Learning the Florida Keys

Researching The History of the Keys

I’ve been traveling to the Keys almost every weekend – and I’m caught up in the history and the mood, taking notes and enjoying some great new friends.

The history of the Florida Keys is colorful and, well, “historic”. Discovered by Juan Ponce de León in 1513 who claimed it for Spain and considered it the northern part of Cuba. Native populations now extinct. Defended and lost by the English, the Spanish and the Indians. Acquired by the United States in 1821. The Keys also played a role in the Seminole Wars, and Key West has been the wealthiest city (per capita) in the United States four times in its history.

Most recent visits have included Pigeon Key, Indian Key, Marathon, The Hurricane Monument in Islamorada, Crane’s Landing, the Navy Blimp on Cudjoe, the museums in Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor, The Bat House on Sugarloaf Key, and even the Butterfly Conservancy and the Key West Aquarium.

Pigeon Key

Pigeon Key

The remnants of one of several camps for workers can be seen and explored at Pigeon Key, about half-way along the Overseas Highway.

Bat House on Cudjoe Key

I’ve traveled the length of the Keys, from Key Largo to Key West many times and I’ve never tired of the slow traffic and jump from key to key across the 42 bridges that join them across the 115 miles of the Overseas Highway. Each key and the small towns established on them has a special flavor and history of its own.

Feeding Key Deer on Big Pine (not allowed but I didn't know that at the time)
Hurricane Memorial at Islamorada
Hurricane of 1935