KEY LARGO, Fl. — The combined talents of adult and student artists have created a new outdoor art mural in the Florida Keys to honor the centennial anniversary of the completion of Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad.
The hand-painted mural, measuring 60 feet long and 11.5 feet high, depicts a train similar to a Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad passenger train steaming across an arched bridge much like the Long Key Viaduct. Above the bridge is a full moon adorned with the face of the railroad’s creator, Henry Flagler.
Located at mile marker 95 bayside in Key Largo, the new mural is to be unveiled Sunday afternoon with the help of former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham.
The mammoth artwork is a collaborative effort between the Art Guild of the Purple Isles and high school art club students at Islamorada’s Island Christian School.
“Painting this with a historical element makes it a lot more special, because I’m living in the product of the railroad,” said Natalie Sassine, an Island Christian senior. “Years from now, if I’m living here or if I come back to visit, I have my grandchildren and like I painted this.
“It’s going to be here for a while and it’s a part of history,” Sassine said.
Cris Sandifer, the lead artist for the mural project, redesigned an original 3-by-5-inch railroad postcard image to fit the wall’s surface area. Other artists and more than a dozen art students contributed their time to paint the commemorative wall.
“The inspiration for this painting was an image that was like a 3 by 5 postcard and the problem was it’s over three time as long proportionately as the original,” Sandifer said. “So, of course, the whole thing had to be rethought out and designed.”
Creation of the mural is one of a number of activities and events being staged to commemorate the Jan. 22, 1912, arrival of Flagler’s first train from the U.S. mainland through the Florida Keys to Key West.