Like Waldo, Archer was renamed when the railroad came to town. Before the 1850s, when the
Florida Town Improvement Company, a division of the Florida Railroad Company, platted a 40-
acre town site, Archer was known first as Deer Hammock and then as Darden’s Hammock. David
Levy Yulee, the president of the company that transformed the bucolic little village into an up-and-
coming rail center, named the town for his friend General James T. Archer, Florida’s first
Secretary of State, who had helped Yulee with the incorporation of his cross-state railroad
Business picked up in Archer as the right of way for the railroad was graded and a few shops
were built near the new depot. Homes, a school, and a Methodist church soon followed, and
farmers and growers in the area looked forward eagerly to shipping their crops to market on the
railroad. But it would not be until after the Civil War that full passenger and freight service would
become available. Farmers hauled loads of sugar cane, cotton, sweet potatoes, and a variety of
fruits and vegetables into Archer, which became quite a prosperous town in the late 1800s, with
nine general stores, a hotel, and scores of small businesses.
A new depot was constructed in the 1890s when Henry Plant built a north-south line through
Archer, crossing the tracks laid decades earlier by Yulee’s Florida Railroad. The discovery of
phosphate and a subsequent mining boom made the railroads even more vital to the local
Archer continued to prosper on into the 20th Century. In 1905, the Maddox Foundry and Machine
works was established, and in a few years it employed a force of 70 men. By the mid 1920s, the
city boasted a grits mill, a sawmill, a moss industry, and a naval stores operation. Travelers had a
choice of three hotels, and two garages catered to motorists. But improved roads and new trucks
cut into the railroad freight business, and in 1932 the last train ran over the historic old Florida
Railroad tracks between Archer and Cedar Key.
Archer is fortunate today to have several reminders of its history as an important railroad town.
One of its most prominent landmarks is the small frame train station, constructed prior to 1900,
that now serves as the Archer Historical Railroad Museum. A historical marker dedicated to David
Levy Yulee has been placed in front of the train station, noting Yulee’s role as a railroad
developer and his local ties to Archer, where his Cotton Wood Plantation was located. Across the
street, in front of the Maddox Foundry and Machine Shop, the Baldwin Steam Locomotive, once
an iron workhorse of the southern timber industry, is displayed. The engine, built in 1906 in
South Carolina, was purchased by Hittup Maddox, the owner of the foundry, in 1928 and restored
For a complete written history of Archer, please follow the above link to the Archer
Historical Society. Read the story 19th century Archer by Rance O. Braley.
Maddox Foundry - Archer's Oldest Business