Historic Markers Across Florida

Florida East Coast Railroad Overseas Extension - "The Railroad That Went To Sea"

Marker ID: FLHM F-266
Location: on U.S. 1 between Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys
County: Monroe
Coordinates: N 24° 53.396    W 080° 40.549
  24.88993333    -80.67581666
Waymark: None


Oil magnate Henry M. Flagler first visited Florida in 1878. Realizing Florida´s potential for growth, he developed railroads and hotels which transformed the eastern seaboard. The Florida East Coast Railroad reached Miami in 1896 and soon was completed to the Homestead area. Years of planning were devoted to determining the feasibility of extending the F.E.C. Railroad to Key West which was labeled "Flagler´s Folly." Construction was begun in 1904 under the supervision of Joseph C. Meredith. After Meredith´s death in 1909, William J. Krome guided the project. Viaducts, trestles, and bridges were constructed under harrowing conditions. Thousands of workers battled against insects, hurricanes, and intense heat as well as food and water shortages. On January 21, 1912, the Overseas Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad was completed. The next day, Henry Flagler´s special train arrived in Key West. Flagler died in 1913, but his Overseas Extension continued to carry visitors to Key West until 1935, when the Labor Day hurricane damaged the line beyond repair. A portion of the Overseas Extension near Tea Table Key was among the surviving remnants of this great engineering project which helped to open the Florida Keys to tourism.

Sponsors: sponsored by senator richard r. renick in cooperation with department of state


City: Florida Keys, FL