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Ghost Town Tuesday; Yeehaw Junction and Kenansville, FL

Back in 2014 I often found myself using US 441 out of Orlando to reach the Miami area instead of Florida's Turnpike.  In the remote countryside of Osceola County there are two haggard old communities that are well past their primes; Yeehaw Junction and Kenansville.






Both communities have ties to the Okeechobee spur of the Florida East Coast Railroad.  Both Yeehaw Junction and Kenansville are both first observable as rail road sidings on the 1917 map of Osceola County but were likely present as early as 1914.  The shape of Osceola County was much different due to Okeechobee County not being created at some point in 1917.  Additional rail siding towns south of Holopaw to Yeehaw Junction would have also included; Illahaw, Nittaw, Apoxsee, and Lokose. 

1917 Osceola County Map

On the 1917 map of Osceola County actually has Yeehaw Junction in Indian River County.  I'm not sure if that was a surveying error or if there was some sort of land exchange because my 1921 it appears in Osceola County much as it does today.

1921 Map of Osceola County

I'm not exactly certain of the closing date of the Okeechobee Spur of the Florida East Coast Railroad but I believe it was in 1947.  By 1949 US 441 was extended south to Miami which gave some of the Okeechobee rail siding towns a second life.

USends on US 441

Interestingly Pre-1945 Florida State Road 29 was already present along the Okeechobee Spur railroad tracks south of Holopaw by 1936 as evidenced by this map of Mid-Osceola County.



Mid-Osceola County 1936

Both Kenansville and Yeehaw Junction barely hang on today with US 441 been surpassed in importance by Florida's Turnpike.  Kenansville still have a stray old bank building and a hotel called the "Heartbreak Hotel" which has been rumored to been the inspiration for the Elvis Presley song of the same name.  Kenansville is located at the junction of US 441 and County Route 523.






To the south of Kenansville at the junction of US 441 and Florida State Road 60 is Yeehaw Junction.  The primary building that stands out in Yeehaw Junction is the Desert Inn.  The Desert Inn in Yeehaw Junction was built in 1925 according to the historic signage in front of the building, there seems to have been an earlier trade post by the same name.  Apparently the Desert Inn was named for the local cattle ranchers that would frequent the establishment and it is rumored to have been a brothel at one point.  There used to be a bunch of abandoned gas stations in Yeehaw Junction which still have stray ruins on FL 60.







Comments

very sad that now the Desert Inn has basically been decimated, struck not once but now twice by inattentive tractor trailer drivers. There's even less left of the true Yeehaw Junction. The abandoned gas stations have been razed as well; there's more modern gas stations being constructed there too, a Pilot already open and a Racetrac under construction, which will likely drive the last "old" gas station, a BP in a former Stuckey's, out of business. Yeehaw Junction is really on track to become a true ghost town within the next decade or two.

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