Florida East Coast Railroad . Key West Extension . Florida Over-Sea Railroad . 7 Mile Bridge . North From Pigeon Key . Watercolor . 12" x 16"
... the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) was established by Henry Morrison Flagler in 1885 to develop a series of profitable, rail linked resorts along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. The FEC laid track until it eventually reached the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. In 1905, Flagler decided to expand his railroad, with a series of bridges and fills from the Florida mainland, connecting all of the small key islands for the 128 miles down to a terminus at Key West. From there... rail cars, passengers and freight could also be ferried on to Cuba or the Panama Canal. The first train arrived in Key West in January of 1912 and the islands immediately became popular vacation destinations for the wealthy. However, the entire FEC Over-Sea Railroad venture came to a sudden, brutal and deadly end over the Labor Day weekend of 1935 when a Class 5 Hurricane overwhelmed the Keys, severing all communication, decimating housing and infrastructure and stranding thousands of people across the tiny islands. A rescue train consisting of 10 coaches and a baggage car was dispatched and then... on the return, slammed by a 17-foot storm surge as it crossed through Islamorada on Tea Table Key... all the passengers were swept away and only the 106-ton ALCO 4-8-2 locomotive, FEC #447 and it's tender, remained upright and on the rails. The full death toll throughout the Keys, from the storm, was estimated at between 400 and 500 souls. Over 40 miles of railbed and viaduct were destroyed and never rebuilt. In 1938, part of the right-of-way was repurposed along with new construction to extend the US-1 highway that now reaches into Key West. Large sections of the abandoned Seven Mile Bridge and the Bahia Honda Bridge, parallel to US-1, still stand.
A Giclee Print is available of this watercolor painting / railroad art.