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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bahia Honda, Flagler and the Overseas Railroad, a Boatschool report

Bahia Honda (meaning deep bay, in Spanish, locally pronounced: BAY-ah HON-da [báya hónda], pronounced (in Spanish): Bah-EE-ah OWN-dah [baía ónda]), is an island in the lower Florida Keys located at MM37 on the Overseas Highway.  Since 1961 most of the island has been a State Park.  If the bridges are too intimidating for you alternate transportation is available.  The Lower Key Shuttle will pick you up across the road from the marina (FHP Station) and drop you off at the gate for a total of $4 ($8 round trip).

Henry Flagler and the Quest for Cayo Hueso.   In 1890, Key West had a population of nearly 18,800 and was the biggest and richest city in Florida.  This and the construction of the Panama Canal prompted entrepreneur Henry Flagler to connect Cayo Hueso to the mainland by rail.

Remnants of Flagler's Folly

If you take the dinghy ride near this bridge and then over to the "New" bridge you will be amazed at how structurally BAD the new bridge is in comparison.

Maria Puentes a park ranger here at Bahia Honda tales a story of her great grandmothers adventures aboard the "Flagler Folly".  In costume inspired by a photograph of her great grand mother her costume sets the stage.  She unfolds a story of her family and that of Flagler's.  Once a month there is a multi-actor skit given.

Welcome Maria Puentes

Thank you Maria

The American concrete and iron guard rail does not withstand nature

 Remnants of the auto and train passages 

The end of the line.  On Labor Day 1935 a destructive Cat 5 hurricane hit the islands at Islamorada 

Found on YouTube uncredited with caption below
"This is actual film footage taken in Islamorada in the Florida Keys of some of the damage caused by the most intense Hurricane to ever hit any part of the United States mainland in recorded history. This Cat.-5 Hurricane struck on Labor Day September 2, 1935 with little advance warning as the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville predicted this storm to move west through the Florida straits between Havana and Key West. However the storm moved on a Northwest course and tore into the middle Florida Keys during the late afternoon and early evening of Monday September 2nd 1935 with sustained winds of 200-MPH and gusts as high as 250-MPH. An incredible storm surge of 15 to 25 feet completely covered the middle Keys. A relief train sent down from Miami to evacuate several hundred WWI veterans, was knocked off it's tracks. The offical death toll stands at 408-people, however hundreds more were reported missing and most of those were never found. This storm had the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, with a reading of 26.35-inches. "

Source (WFOR-TV CBS Miami)
* material taken from various sources

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