We decided we needed a break from volunteering and snorkeling and took a trip to the Lower Keys. We went to Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key and No Name Key. Definitely an easy route all you do is get on Overseas Highway” (Highway That Goes to Sea), which is where Pennekamp is, and go South.
It’s really great to be driving on Route 1 again, having the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf on the other and sometimes like above, there isn’t any keys in between. It’s one of the longest bridges in the world, approximately 130 miles with 42 bridges. I can’t imagine all the hard work and ingenuity it took to build it.
And there is also, the original Seven Mile Bridge, now called the Old Seven Mile Bridge (or “Old Seven”), that runs parallel to the modern structure. Located at the very west end of the City of Marathon is the Seven Mile Bridge. It’s a famous bridge in the Florida Keys and connects the Middle Keys to the Lower Keys and is among the longest bridges in existence when it was built. Of the many bridges that connect the FL Keys, the Seven mile bridge is the longest.
The Old Seven was built in early 1900 as part of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad. In the early 1980’s this old bridge was no longer used for vehicular traffic when the new bridge was constructed.
Today the Old Seven Mile Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it was once named the 8th Wonder of the World. For now It’s a fishing pier, jogging and walking route and It’s famous for having appeared in a lot of movies like Licence to Kill, True Lies, The Haunted Mansion, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Mission Impossible III, I Am Number Four and Leverage, Key Largo, Up Close & Personal, The Triangle, CrissCross to and others.
But what makes The Old Seven Mile Bridge even more famous is Fred, Fred is the Tree you see above. He’s growing out of a roadbed on the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge. Fred is a non-native species, a salt-sprayed Casuarina, or an Australian pine tree. According to a 2013 story in the “Keys Weekly.” Fred sprouted from droppings of a passing bird or an osprey. Fred serves as a symbol to all the residents of The Keys because he has strong roots and wouldn’t let Hurricane Irma blow him away on October 10, 2017. And despite the lack of good soil, Fred has grown tall and green and is a symbol of strength for all who see him. The unexpectedly sturdy tree symbolizes the strength of The Keys.
Our 1st stop . . .
Bahia Honda Key’s has a deep natural bay that has been a harbor for passing sailors from a very long time ago. The island’s name, is Spanish for “deep bay,” it began showing up on Spanish nautical charts hundreds of years ago. The park was signed over to Monroe County sometime between 1953 and 1957, and in 1961 Monroe County gave the Florida Park Service control of the park on Bahia Honda. Most most of the island was still owned by Monroe County and private landowners, and in 1963 the county deeded an additional 63 acres to the Florida Park Service. On March 17, 1984, a private landowner sold their property at the east end of Bahia Honda to the state, bringing the entire island of Bahia Honda under the responsibility of the Florida Park Service. Dave & I have driven by the park before but we were glad we stopped in for a look, it is a very nice park with 3 beaches for swimming, plus camping, cabins, snorkeling, boating, fishing, biking and it is know for it’s beautiful sunsets.
“Your only worry should be if the tide is going to reach the chair.” – Zac Brown
Located on the west end of Bahia Honda Key, is another bridge that was originally built between 1905 and 1912 by Henry Flagler as part of the Overseas Railroad. It was intended to carry a single track of the Florida East Coast Railway across the Big Spanish Channel from Bahia Honda Key to Spanish Harbor Key. But the bridge was damaged during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and rather than rebuilding the bridge, the existing foundations were repaired and were converted to become part of the Overseas Highway in 1938 by adding the deck on top of the existing truss. The bridge served as the primary route of transport to the lower keys and as the main evacuation route. In 1980, a new four-lane bridge was constructed just a few hundred yards north of the old bridge, replacing the old route of U.S. The old bridge is now in the National Register of Historic Places. The easternmost section of the bridge is open to pedestrian traffic and you can see a scenic view of the area from the bridge.
They took an old railroad bridge and decided to put a road on top of it? I did work for many years though, you can see from the picture below the lanes were a bit smaller than usual. Definitely had to be careful when passing another car and definitely no passing on the right lane.
Our next stop was Big Pine Key where the Key Deer live. They are native to the Florida and are found no other place in the world except for Big Pine Key. The deer are a sub-species of the North American white-tailed deer and are the smallest deer on the continent. Adults are similar in size to a large dog, ranging in weight from 65-90 pounds and the fawns are about the size of a small house cat.
We visited Blue Hole where key deer, alligators and fish gather at the watering hole, formerly a limestone quarry, where fresh water is layered over salt water.
Right next to Big Pine Key is ……
Yes, there is an island called No Name Key. No Name is a relatively small island of approximately 1,140 acres and about one mile wide and two miles long and irregularly shaped.
We read about a great place to eat Called No Name Pub on No Name Key.
The history of the No Name Pub goes back to 1931 when it was a general store, bait and tackle shop. In 1936 the owners added a small room on to the main structure which became a restaurant and a pub.
In the 1940’s tourists and locals alike began to discover this quirky out of the way place. The ladies would do their shopping in the general store as the men would browse the bait and tackle shop and have a beer and sandwich in the eatery.
By the mid 1950s, the general store and bait and tackle shop closed and the Pub became 100% bar and restaurant. No Name was added to the Pub name and it became the No Name Pub … and quickly became a Keys hangout.
The atmosphere of beer drinking, shooting pool and food became known from Miami to Key West. Crowds often grew so large that the interior would get so full of smoke and crowded, that customers would spill out into the backyard where dice, crap and card games would eventually break out. The old timers say the place never got raided because the Sheriff ran the dice games.
The 1970’s and 80’s became a rowdy time for the pub Jimmy Buffett’s “Why don’t we get drunk and screw” played on the juke box while people would drink, eat and dance to excess in the Pub. There was a lot of illegal money passing through the Keys back then and everyone loved to spend it. They had so much money in fact they started signing the dollar bills hanging it on wall. And this is how it looks today.
Every inch of the Pub is covered in money. Money hanging from the ceiling and walls. It definitely wouldn’t pass the NY building codes and laws. It was a great place and they had great food!
It was a great day out and about The Florida Keys!