Friday, September 9, 2011

Memories of Pigeon Key

When Ceekay from visited me in the spring we made a road trip to Key West and I spotted an island in the middle of the Seven Mile Bridge.  I wondered what that island was and did a little a research on it when I got back to Juno Beach.  I found out it was Pigeon Key, a camp for Henry Flagler's workers when they were building the Overseas Railroad at the turn of the 20th century.

So when Hubby and I went to Key West for his birthday I had to visit this island!  If it looks familiar to you it's because last season's Amazing Race TV show ended on the island.  Our tour guide spent a week assisting the show's producers to get everything set up.

There are only two ways on and off the island - a boat from Knight's Key (part of Marathon) or hiking several miles over the Historic Seven Mile Bridge.  We opted for the boat ride.
Passing underneath the new bridge, it doesn't take long to reach the island.  That's the old bridge in the background.

Here's the dock where the boat stopped to let us off and that's the guest house where, for a substantial donation, you can spend a week on an island.  It's my dream!

Flagler spared no expense to take care of his workers and built several bunkhouses and a dining hall and kitchen to feed them.  Lobster was usual fare!

He even built them a swimming pool!  One of the Florida Universities opened up a  part of it while doing some marine experiments.  The Pigeon Key Foundation is hoping to restore it to it's former glory.

At one time the bunkhouses housed as many as 400 men.  Today, this one is used as a classroom for students who come to the island to learn about marine science.
This view out one of the classroom doors is phenomenal!

They were working on the bridge to the right when they set up their work camp in 1908.  The bridge we use today is on the left.

You can arrive on the island by foot if you come over the bridge.
However, you can only walk from the island to Knight's Key.  The bridge in the other direction has some holes in it!

Did you know that Pigeon Key has no  mosquitos?  Of course, it doesn't have any fresh water either.  It has to be piped in from the mainland.

We really enjoyed our short visit to Pigeon Key.  I plan to be back for a longer one!


  1. OH! How I would love to stitch in that classroom!

  2. Oh, isn't this something? I've been to Key West a few times but always from a cruise ship. I've never gotten to ride across that bridge! Looks like this place has really been kept up nice! :)
    Thanks for popping in to see me.
    be a sweetie,
    shelia ;)

  3. Great tour. Next time in the keys, we will have to stop by.

  4. What a neat place to visit!!!
    I could kick my shoes off and go aweeeeeeeeeee.

    Appreciate you stopping by homehaven and leaving a comment. Thank you!
    God bless,

  5. I stayed on the island for a MONTH! It was Jan of 1976. It was for a Marine Biology course from my hometown Junior College. The boys stayed in the yellow house and the girls stayed in a cottage on the north end. We had classes in the "schoolhouse" which had a tank that kept the specimens we collected and studied. We had classes inside in the morning and spent the afternoons in the water. The evenings were for ourselves. The girls and boys took turns and cooked dinner every other night. Some nights we went into Marathon, but most nights we stayed on the island and watched the sunset. We went on a fishing expedition in the Gulf Stream and caught mackerel. We ate this until we got sick of it, but it saved us grocery money. My sister in law took the same course a few years earlier. I took my daughters there a several years ago so they could see it. It was a VERY SPECIAL time and I will always have fond memories of Pigeon Key. Kathy H.