Celebrating Flagler throughout Florida
Celebrate History on your Florida Vacation
When Henry M. Flagler moved to St. Augustine in the 1880s, he envisioned a tourist destination from the sunny wilds of Florida. Among the hotels, churches and other structures that still stand, the 153-mile “Over-Sea Railroad” that reached Key West was referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Although the rail line was never rebuilt after a hurricane tore it apart in 1935, Flagler celebrations throughout Florida are happening this month.
Celebrations in the Keys
If you’re in Key West, the Museum of Art is hosting “Flagler’s Speedway to Sunshine” including vintage railway footage.
The January 14th celebration at Pigeon Key, a museum from the former Flagler work camp, includes historical tours and a free ferry service.
Flagler’s Palm Beach home, the 60,000 square-foot Whitehall, is now the Flagler Museum. Along with exhibits and annual events, it features antiques and the oil tycoon’s personal rail car.
Rail line Remnants
The rail tracks over the ocean toward the Keys are now an “All-American Road,” but one remaining trestle bridge and a 127-mile cycling route along the original bridges are a testament to one of Flagler’s visions. Underwater, debris from the Seven Mile Bridge is now an artificial reef that divers explore.
The Hotel Alcazar in St. Augustine, now the Lightner Museum and Casa Monica Hotel, are prime examples of the Gilded Age. Other Flagler buildings include the historic Breakers Resort in Palm Beach and Casa Marina in Key West. The copper-dome of the Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, Flagler based on the St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. This church is also where Flagler is buried with his family.
Do you take in history on a vacation or just hit the Florida beaches?