Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Remember When . . . The Road Home Wasn't Built?

First, today is the LAST STOP of my  Annapolis blog tour, and I'm going out with a bang--on Seekerville! Talking about the importance of our words, both the ones we speak (or type) and the ones we don't. Head on over! And now for your regularly scheduled programming. ;-)


I finally, finally reached a critical turning point in my manuscript--my hero, long stranded in Cuba, gets to come home. But as I sat down, fingers poised over keyboard and ready to make his dreams come (momentarily) true, I paused. And said something like, "Aww, man. How am I supposed to get him there?"

I knew all along this would be tricky. In 1861, it was, shall we say, a bit difficult to gain entrance to the Confederate States of America. See, there was this little thing called the blockade . . . LOL. I had a plan for it, but it was a loose one. Based upon a few quick searches, some squinting, and a couple, "Eh, good enough for now"s.

But it wasn't good enough for the real thing. So my internet searches got more intense, and where they failed, I looked for help. By the end of my work day on Monday, I'd exchanged about a dozen emails with six different historians. And I had enough to go on.

I'd determined that the most likely port of entry from Cuba would be Cedar Key, Florida. So my search started with the lovely, oh-so-friendly folks of Low-Key Hideaways, who had a plethora of historical information about their little island on their website, including a wonderful hand-drawn map from the 1880s. I emailed the info address on their website and within minutes had a response, which was also forwarded to a friend of theirs who knew the island's history well.

Said friend applauded me for making the Cuba-Cedar Key connection and referred me to others from the town who had written books about it during the Civil War, so could answer any questions I had about the town's layout at the time.

That was a lovely start to my day, that verification that, hey, I'd landed him in the right place! Phew! And it was a good spot, because it was the western most terminus of the Florida railroad. Surely, surely, that would make it easy, right? I could just stick my hero on a train to Savannah.

Except, er, there seemed to be no train from Florida to Georgia. Um . . . I found a map that had a connector line marked as "built during the war," but it didn't tell me when. Argh! This was the point where my hubby said, "You just need that one railroad buff who can answer your question off the top of his head. Find him."

I started doing random searches for "Florida railroad Civil War" and came across and article sourced from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. Needless to say, their website was my next stop. I found the email address for their historical editor, sent him a few questions. Which he forwarded to the historian at the Florida East Coast Railway. Who forwarded it to a professor friend who'd just written a book about it.

I'd found my guy! He emailed later that evening answering my exact question--and giving me the year on that connector line, which was, sadly, two years too late. =( But I now knew that my hero could only take the rail from Cedar Key to the other side of Florida, Fernandina. From there, it would be a stage coach to Savannah.

Not what I'd planned on--but doable. And right. Oh, how I love knowing I've gotten details like that right!

All that research made for not as much writing time as I'd liked, but it was well worth it. And now I have a host of oh-so-helpful people who are on my acknowledgment list for this book. =) And more information on Civil War Florida than I ever thought I'd need to know. ;-)


  1. Sounds like a fun day - to me, anyway :). Glad you figured it all out!

  2. Wow, Roseanna, I'm impressed by how much effort you put into researching those details. And by the results you get. I like to read that stuff :-)