Today is the Conch Republic’s 35th Birthday

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Knowing your history sometimes can pay off in public relations.

Although 35 years have passed, the mock “secession” — and resulting founding of Key West’s “Conch Republic” — remains a classic example of turning a potential disaster into an opportunity.

When the U.S. Border Patrol established a surprise roadblock on U.S. Highway 1 at the entrance to the Florida Keys, trapping tourists as well as drug runners and alien smugglers, Keys tourism and government officials went ballistic.

Key West had … Read the rest

Presidential Descendants to Recall First Ladies Feb. 25 in Key West

littlewhitehseKEY WEST, Florida Keys — Descendants of three former United States presidents are to share memories and insights about their “first lady” forebears during a presentation at Key West’s Harry S. Truman Little White House, Florida’s only presidential museum.

The unique event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, on the west lawn of the 111 Front St. residence where former President Truman spent 11 working vacations during his 1945-1953 administration.

Scheduled presenters include Truman’s grandson Clifton Truman Daniel, … Read the rest

On Eve of Centennial, Florida Keys Women Recall Riding Over-Sea Railroad

Florida Keys Over-Sea RailroadFLORIDA KEYS — Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad ceased operating in 1935, but two Keys women vividly remember childhood experiences riding the “railroad that went to sea.”

Completed in 1912, it was called the Over-Sea Railroad because its track stretched more than 100 miles out into open water. For 23 years it carried passengers from mainland Florida to and through the Keys, affording them a breathtaking sense of steaming across the ocean.

Minnie Dameron, who spent much of her … Read the rest

Florida Keys ‘Railroad that Went to Sea’ Honored with Centennial Celebration

Florida Keys Over-Sea RailroadFLORIDA KEYS — A celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the completion of Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad is to culminate Jan. 14-23, with Keyswide events marking the centennial of the first train’s journey from the Florida mainland through the island chain to Key West.

When the inaugural train steamed through the Keys Jan. 22, 1912, it connected the previously isolated islands with each other and the mainland for the first time and ushered in a new era for … Read the rest

Historic Re-enactment Brings Alive Keys Railroad Era for 100th Anniversary

100_1327BIG PINE KEY, Florida Keys — A special historic re-enactment commemorating the centennial anniversary of the completion of Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad is to be staged at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at Bahia Honda State Park, mile marker 36.8, in the Lower Keys.

The re-enactment is to take park visitors on a trip through time from 1912, on the Over-Sea Railroad’s inaugural journey, through 1938 when the Florida Keys Overseas Highway replaced the track.

Construction on the … Read the rest

Environmental and Historic Offerings Highlight What’s New in the Florida Keys & Key West for Fall 2011

FLORIDA KEYS — The official tourism website of the Florida Keys & Key West, located at www.fla-keys.com, now has a fresh new look with a more pronounced emphasis on social media sharing capabilities and high-definition videos. The video components enable website visitors to explore featured attractions, take virtual dives on reef and shipwreck sites spotlighted in all regions of the Keys, meet Keys personalities and find out about special events more conveniently than ever before.

Located on the site’s … Read the rest

Discover Historic Islamorada on Two-Wheel Tours Sept. 3-5

ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Bicyclists, outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs can learn about the early years of the Upper Keys while enjoying exercise and sunshine during the Islamorada Historical Bicycle Tour offered Saturday through Monday, Sept. 3-5.

The free, two-hour Labor Day Weekend tour starts at 10 a.m. each day next door to the Hurricane Monument at mile marker (MM) 81.6, where riders meet guide Mark Terrill. Participants are advised to rent a bike or bring their own, and bring … Read the rest

Key West Historic Marker Tour Spotlights Colorful Island History

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Contemporary visitors can discover and experience Key West’s multifaceted history via the Key West Historic Marker Tour recently debuted by a local historian. Historic sites can be explored individually through free cell-phone tours or downloads from www.KeyWestHistoricMarkerTour.org.

The tours include sites and properties bearing Key West Historic Marker plaques that highlight their place in island history. The sites were selected based on historian Bruce Neff’s expert research into their significance.

More than 50 sites … Read the rest

Keys Railroad that ‘Went to Sea’ to Mark 100th Anniversary

OVERSEAS HIGHWAYFLORIDA KEYS — In January 1912, the first Oversea Railway train rolled from the Florida mainland through the Florida Keys to Key West, forever changing the face of many of the previously isolated islands by connecting them with the mainland and each other.

A celebration to honor the historic railroad, lauded as the most unique railway in the world upon its completion, has begun in the Keys. Events are to culminate Jan. 22, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the inaugural … Read the rest