-HIFc~ a- -en.
Bahia Honda Parkway-Famous for its Fishing Ground
THIS unique highway, stretching a distance of 122 miles across the
Florida Keys to Key West, is an outstanding triumph of modern engi-
neering skill and ingenuity. Completed at a cost of $5,000,000, it
connects the southernmost city in the United States with the Florida
Motor traffic literally "goes to sea" along this modern highway which
crosses great expanses of water on long causeways and bridges-flanked
on one side by the Atlantic Ocean, on the other by the Gulf of Mexico.
Panoramas of endless miles of open sea change only slightly to seascapes
dotted with some of the 700-odd dark green mangrove keys. Miles of
isolated waterfront invite fishing, sunning or just strolling.
Fishing facilities are available along the entire keys, the waters of which
comprise one of the world's most famous fishing grounds. Among the more
than 600 varieties of fish found in these waters are tarpon, bonefish,
sailfish, mackerel, king, pompano and snapper.
There are 18 roadside parking areas between toll gates. Week-end or
overnight camping is permitted at the roadside camps, and trailers also are
permitted for the same length of time.
HE HISTORY of the Overseas Highway is closely allied with that of the
railroad which first operated to Key West in 1912. The opening of
this sea-going railroad marked the realization of Henry M. Flagler's
ambition to extend the Florida East Coast railroad to the tip of the Florida
Keys. Actual construction of the road presented a tremendous undertaking-
calling for the transportation of men, materials, food supplies and even
drinking water from distant bases.
Demancffor the construction of a highway paralleling the railroad was
stimulated by the real estate boom of the 1920's. Between 1922 and 1928
Monroe County, which comprises the Florida Keys and Key West, issued
bonds for the construction of a highway from Key West to the mainland.
By 1928, a highway extended from Florida City to Key West, with the
Key West Lighthouse-More Than 100 Years Old
exception of two water gaps of 14 miles each, over which ferry service
was mSintained. This service proved far from satisfactory, as only two
trips daily were scheduled and accommodations for cars were inadequate.
In 1933, the state legislature created the Overseas Road and Toll
Bridge District whose purpose it was to raise money, through bond issues,
for the construction of toll bridges across the unspanned gaps. This body
acquired the Florida East Coast railroad's right-of-way and bridges from
Florida City to Key West for the sum of $640,000. This action followed
the abandonment of the sea-going railroad after the hurricane of 1935
had wrought severe damage to approximately 40 miles of tracks and fills.
The actual work of converting 41 miles of right-of-way into a motor
road between Lower Matecumbe and Big Pine began in January 1937,
and the road was opened for traffic in March 1938. Railroad bridges and
viaducts, too narrow for two-way traffic, had to be widened. One of the
great problems was to find an economical design for placing a roadway
deck on the bridge structures-one that would suffer the least possible
damage from hurricanes. In the case of the towering Bahia Honda Bridge,
a two-lane deck was placed over the top of the superstructure t avoid the
possible spreading of trusses-a resulting probability had the base been
widened for two-lane traffic.
In reworking the railroad embankments for the highway, existing grades
were lowered to give a 34-foot width of roadway. In some places, the
cost of roadway on embankments was approximately $12,000 per mile.
The cost of roadway over bridges was $24 to $31 per foot. The most
costly portion of the highway lies in the 13 miles between Knight's Key and
Big Pine Key, including Knight's Key Bridge, almost 7 miles in length.
The fact that eight hurricanes in the past 30 years have failed to
damage any of the bridges is proof of their outstanding construction. The
29 bridges outside the toll area span a distance of 4.7 miles. In the 41-mile
toll area between Lower Matecumbe Key and Big Pine Key, there are 11
bridges spanning a distance of 13 miles, and 7 miles of embankment in
shallow water. The deepest water is found under Bahia Honda Bridge,
approximately 42 feet to bedrock.
Prior to 1943 wooden bridges had been used south of Big Pine Key to
Key West. However these hazards were eliminated during 1943-44 when
the State Road Department converted the railroad right-of-way into the
present standard modern motor highway. All bridges are of concrete arch
or girder span type with 20-feet clear roadway.
For additional information concerning the Over-
seas Highway, contact Mr. Brooks Bateman,
General Manager, Pigeon Key, Marathon, Fla.
m -framed View of Spanish Harbor Bridge
Palm-framed View of Spanish Harbor Bridge
KEY WEST, a city of 26,433 inhabitants, plus 12,000 Naval personnel,
occupies a coral island approximately 4 miles long and 2 miles wide
at the western end of the Florida Keys. Said to be the only frost-free
city in the United States, it is a delightful winter and health resort with a
subtropical climate and a semblance of the leisurely Latin approach to
For three centuries, its natural deep-water harbor was a mecca for
Indian caries, Spanish galleons, pirate craft and sailing vessels of many
nations. In 1882, Commodore David Porter established a naval station
here as a base for operations against pirates in the Gulf of Mexico and
the Caribbean Sea. The final rout of the pirates opened the Keys to settlers,
most of whom came from Virginia,. New England and the West Indies.
Since the time of the war with Mexico, Key West has had a military post
and naval station, and in every war has served as an important naval base.
Older Key West dwellings are predominantly one-and-a-half story
frame structures anchored deep in the native coral rock. Some of these
houses were built by ship carpenters who used pegs instead of nails. Most
houses have slatted shutters which permit a free circulation of air and at
the same time eliminate the glare of the tropical sun.
Tropical trees, plants, fruits and flowers grow in variety and profusion
in Key West. Coconut and date palms are plentiful and among the fruits
that grow in abundance are Spanish limes, avocado pears and sugar
apples. There are also a few pomegranate and several bearing breadfruit
trees on the island.
Restaurants feature Cuban-American dishes, particularly sea food.
Among the unusual foods served are turtle steaks, conch chowder and
arroz con polio-chicken and yellow rice. Approximately 50 restaurants
and 2,000 hotel and motel rooms provide food and lodging for visitors to
Fishing, in addition to being a popular sport, is also important com-
mercially. The annual shrimp catch alone is estimated at more than five
million dollars. Just beyond the turtle crawls on Margaret St. is the plant
where green turtle soup, for which Key West is famous, is made.
Among the points of interest in the city are the lighthouse, the southern-
most point in the United States, and the Municipal Aquarium containing many
varieties of tropical fish and other marine life, found only in the waters off
the Keys and the West Indies.
Official U. S. Navy Photograph
Air View of Key West-Southernmost City
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CHAIN OF KEYS OVER WHICH
OVERSEAS HIGHWAY PASSES:
1WAY BRIDGES FROM FLORIDA
LAND TO KEY WEST, FLORIDA:
Length in feet
I DRAW BRIDGE 223
ER CREEK 133
EL 2 1720
L 5 4516
HARBOR 3 1209
HARBOR 4 1395
S KEY (7 mile) 35716
AHIA HONDA 1005
I HARBOR 3311
PINE CHANNEL 620
PINE CHANNEL 806
KEY RAMROD 615
HARRIS GAP 390
SUGAR LOAF 1210
BUNCHES 2 554
BUNCHES 3 656
BUNCHES 4 800
BUNCHES 5 800
COPYIGHT195 AMEICA AUTMOBIE ASOCITIO
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