The first Florida Keys Bridge to be built was part of the Henry Morrison Flagler’s project the “Florida East Coast Railway, Key West Extension” started in 1905 and was completed in 1912. The huge project was a series of bridges and railroad tracks that would connect these until then almost inaccessible islands to the main land of Florida; 128 miles of railway starting at Biscayne Bay and ending in Key West.
The first section of the railway, from Homestead to Key Largo was almost in its totality built over insect infected swamps and wet lands, and in 1906 the 120 mph winds of a hurricane destroyed a big part of the work already done, 135 workers lusted their lives and big portion of the work had to be redone and rebuilt. But the work continued. Flagler was not going to give up!
The 80 years old and already blind Henry Flagler arrived to Key West victorious in January of 1912 aboard of his private railroad car”Rambler”The railroad extension was one of the greatest wanders of engineering of all times and it was named the “Eight Wander of the World” by some of the most prominent people.
The railroad and bridges were damage and some sections totally destroyed by the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, but many sections remain erected until these days and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, over time this sections had become widely known tourist attractions, the sites for photographic scenarios and a few movies.
The Overseas Highway Bridges.
Later in the earlier 1940’s and using some of the sections of railroad bridges left undamaged by the hurricane, the construction of the Overseas Highway begun, some of the old railroad bridges were replaced by new modern bridges, and in many sections the highway run alongside of the old bridge.
But there are more than one bridge connecting these islands, a total of 42 that I know of. These bridges and highway sections are joined together to form what we all know as “Scenic Highway”, “Overseas Highway”, “Florida Keys Highway” and the extension of “US Route 1.
Driving south from Miami and pass Florida City you’ll come upon the first sections of bridges that connect South Florida with Key Largo and once you get to Jawfish Creek you are officially in Florida keys territory. From this point on you’ll be driving southwest over the many other sections of roads, bridges and villages of the Keys.
The 7 Mile Bridge
The 7 Mike Bridge is the most commonly mention as the Florida Keys Bridge by people here; this historic and famous iconic symbol of the Florida Keys is particularly known for the eye-popping views and the impressive sunsets and sunrises that can be appreciated from here.
This is the bridge that connects Knightâ€™s Key in the islands of Marathon with Little Dock Key in the Lower Florida Keys and is also the stage for the renowned Annual 7 Mile Bridge Run, where over 1000 marathon runners-athletes race over the bridge just for the challenge of a good race! The famous Florida Keys Bridge has also been the stage of some Hollywood movies.
The Old 7 Mile Bridge, originally known as Knight’s Key-Pigeon Key-Pacet Channel-Moser Channel Bridge runs alongside the new Overseas Highway Bridge at this location. This section of bridge was constructed by Henry Flagler, (1909-1912) as part of the Key West Railroad extension and now it gives access to Pigeon Key from the side of Knight’s Key in Marathon. Running, bicycling and walking over the bridge to the historic Pigeon Key is a common recreational activity, and the bridge along with the island is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Bahia Honda Bridge
A section of Florida Keys Bridge where you can admire so great scenarios is at the Bahia Honda State Park and Beaches in MM 37 and the Lower Florida Keys, this is an area full of campsites and not over populated, where mother nature rules.
The bridge crosses the Bahia Honda Key Channel in between the Mile Marker 36-38 for a total of 12 miles, and is not too far from the southwest end of the 7 Mile bridge.
If you exit into the Bahia Honda State Park you can walk over a trail that takes you to the top of the remaining section of the old bridge and you will see some stunning scenarios from this location. A real sightseeing dream!
What else is left to talk about the Florida Keys Bridge?…Fishing!
Most of the sections of bridges in the Florida Keys are excellent for fishing, and are popular fishing platforms. It’s been a popular method of fishing that itâ€™s been booming for years; it’s plenty of snapper, tarpon, snook and permit beneath the spans of the bridges. You only need a salt water fishing license to be at peace with the law!
Some bridges provide access for shore fishing while others are better approached by boat but the thing is that anglers had been scoring big on these bridges.
This is a list of some of the Bridges that I know have fishing platforms and good size fish along the Florida Keys Highway.
Channel 2 Bridge at M M 73 in Islamorada and the Florida Keys Heritage Trail.
Long Key Viaduct and Overseas Heritage Trail at M M 64.
Tom’s Harbor Viaduct at M M 60.
Seven Mile Bridge’s southwest end.
Little Dock Key Missouri Historic Bridge at M M 39.5.
Bahia Honda Historic Bridge M M 36.
Spanish Harbor Key at M M 34. Overseas Heritage Trail.
South Pine Channel Bridge at M M 30.
Bow Channel at M M 20.
But to me the best 3 places for fishing in the Florida Keys are the Long Key Channel, Sugarloaf Key and the 7 Mile Bridge! Try your luck and let me Know!
Parking in Key West is not a big deal if you know where to find it. Finding free parking or places where to leave your vehicle in the major areas of Florida Keys is not a problem at all, and neither should be a cause of greater concern or a head ache.
Unlike in the big major cities, the Florida Keys are not a traffic overloaded metropolis, and besides, parking here is free of charge “almost everywhere”, except for the National Parks entry fees, and in the populated and touristic areas of Key West. The Key West parking picture is a bit different, parking is more strict and limited.
But if you have finally decided to take the enjoyable ride over the Scenic Overseas Highway to this tropics paradise pay attention because I will tell in this chapter where you can go to find parking in Key West!
Key West has some important points of interest that every visitor wants to check in the list amount of time, you might want to visit as many as possible while you are here so why to waste time lurking around for a parking space.
The Southernmost Point
Parking in Key West at the more celebrated landmark of all times! At the Southernmost Point of the continental US.
The Southernmost Point of the US “90 miles from Cuba” is the famous landmark that you don’t want to miss, don’t go back home without a photo standing next to it on a sunny day, because no one will believe that you were here!
The two places where you can find free parking near the Southernmost Point (and the best time is in the early morning, later it would be more difficult to park, and besides there would be a long line of tourist posing next to the Point) are at the south side of Whitehead Street (near the light house and the Ernest Hemingway House) and in the south side of Simonton Street; from here just take a short walk to the Southernmost Point or any of the nearby places.
Once you have taken your picture next to this famous buoy-stone-monument that marks the end of the US solid territory you might decide to walk to the near Southernmost places, Southern…Hotel, Southern…Beach, Southern…this and that.
From here depending on your available time and agenda you might decide where to go, but basically everywhere you go in Key West is worth your time.
The Southside Beaches
Letâ€™s say that you like to visit the nearby beaches on the south side of the island, South Beach and the Southern Most Cafe (same location and at only one block walking distance from the Southern Point on Duval Street; Higgs Beach or Smathers Beach (are a little farther away but with plenty of parking-some are paid parking so have packet change and smaller paper bills to pay with)
On Duval Street
Parking in Key West’s hottest spot.You could walk from where you parked on Whitehead or Simonton Streets to Duval (both run parallel to Duval) Duval has only one side of the street where you can free park and it’s a busy place so trying to park could be difficult and sometimes impossible so I would recumbent to park on nearby streets where you’ll find the pay parking meters or machines that are being implanted all over South Florida (these are time limited so fallow the instructions and come back to repay after the time expires or you could be paying a penalty (parking ticket) *in some you can pay with credit card.
Caution: Do not park on designated residential parking zones ( there will be marks on the pavement indicating that is a residential parking zone, but some might be faded with the rain and not easy to read) and neither park on the sidewalks. *If you park in one of this no-no parking zones your car will be impounded and you will have to pay cash “big cash” to get it back because they don’t take checks or credit cards.
Parking at Mallory Square, Old Seaport, Bight, and north side of Duval St.
Parking at the Mallory Square, the Historic Seaport, Duval and the other streets in the north side of the island.
Parking here is mostly paid parking, look for the metered curb side parking meters or much better is the all 24 hrs. a day parking lots at the Port, Mallory Square and Duval.
The city owned parking lots in the Old Town, Historic Seaport, Mallory Square, and Key West Bight, 24 hr. all day parking.
*Mallory Square Parking Lot.
Located on the interception of Front and Wall Streets.
This is the best place to park near the attractions of the Mallory Square and the cruise ship dock, open from 8am – midnight.
At a rate of $ 32 day or $4 per hour.
*Key West Bight and Old Historic Seaport Parking Lot.
Corner of Margaret and Caroline Streets.
(305) 809-3864. $16 maximum payment for 24 hrs. parking or pay by the hour if you are just visiting the area for a shorter time.
Walk all day around the attractions of the Old Historic Seaport or take a sunset sail cruise from this location.
*Old Town Parking Lot. (24 hr. access)
Corner of Grinnell and Caroline Streets right across from the Key West Bight (Tampa-Key West) Ferry Terminal and the Old Historic Seaport.
$13 maximum fee for 24 hrs. and $2 an hour, open day or night.
From the $13 fee at the Old Town Parking Garage you can Park N Ride the shuttles to the downtown area, Old Town, Mallory Square, and the Southernmost Point and take a tour around Key West, only present your parking ticket to the bus driver.
For assistance with payment call (305) 809-3910.
*The parking fees and rates above mentioned are subject to be change during special event like the Fantasy Fest in October.
During the festival the best option is to get here early in the morning and park in the city lots mentioned above, Old Town Lot on Grinnell or the Bright Parking Lot: the Mallory Square lot is smaller and fills up to faster.
*This parking information applies only to cars, vans, motorcycles and passenger trucks only, not for RV, buses and trailers.
*City of Key West. (For more detailed information)
By studying this fishing terminology or glossary you’ll will increase your understanding of the art of the salt water angler in any part of the world. When you are a beginner angler is normal to confuse one thing for another or just to be confused by the terminology and the usage of the now unfamiliar language of the fishermen.
The A to Z Angler’s Fishing Terminology.
*Active fish.-It’s the fish that are feeding heavily at a certain time or area and are striking bait with more frequency.
*Angler-Person whose occupation or recreation is to catch fish, angler is that one who catches fish with a hook.
*Angling.-Angling is the art or science of catching fish with hook, bait, line and fishing rod or pole.
*Angling permit-fishing permit-fishing license.-Permit that you need to buy for certain fishing categories for sport, recreational or commercial fishing. *Refer to the Florida Fish and wild life Conservation Commission. www.myfwc.com/saltwater/recreational/
*Attractant.-It’s a substance anything else used to attract the fish.
*Bait-Anything attached to the fishing hook used to attract and catch the fish. Some prefer to use artificial, plastic bait or electronic lures, but the traditional natural baits like shrimp or smaller bait fish, are more attractive to the fish.
*Backlash or bird nest-A loop, tangle or snarl formed in the fishing line trapped under coils on the spool of a reel cause by overrunning the spool.
*Bag limit.-Limited amount of fish allowance that the angler may keep, catch or retain per day, size, amount or weight.
*Bait-Live bait or artificial bait.-food placed on the hook to attract the fish. Differed types of baits are use depending on the species of fish, size etc.
*Baitcasting-Casting a lure with a multiplying or bait casting reel. Fishing with a revolving spool and bait casting rod.
*Bait clip– A clip used to secure a baited hook close to the weight, this way preventing that the bait from swaying around and preventing the bait from flying off during the casting.
*Baitfish-Smaller fish that is used as bait for large size fish. Some popular baitfish are pinfish, Spanish sardines, striped mullet, strip mojarra, silver jenny, the Atlantic croacker, yellow mackerel, blue runner, ballyhoo or balao, pigfish, sand perch, sardines, and shrimp.
*Beachcasting or surfcasting-Casting a lure or a baited hook from the beach or a rocky shore.
*Bite.-When the angler feels that the fish bites or touches the bait.
*Bobber– Other name given to a fishing float in the U.S.
*Bottom fish-bottom feeder.-a fish that normally feed at the bottom.
*Bottom fishing-Placing a baited hook in the sea bottom held in place by a weight.
*Brackish-brackish water-briny water.-Water mix of salt water with fresh water. This water is normally near estuaries, river or streams running into sea water at some shores.
*Break off.-Term applied when the fishing line breaks and fish escapes.
*Bridge fishing.-Fishing from the bridges. *Common practice in the Florida Keys bridges along the sections of highway US 1.
*Bullet sinker.-A weight made of lead or steel and shaped like a cone that slides up and down the fishing line.
*Butt pad-A cup attached to a waist belt warn around the front and used to take the load of the rod butt when catching larger fish.
*Buzzbait-Buzzing.-It’s an artificial type of bait with propeller blades that creates a splashing effect when retrieved from the water to resemble a bait fish or wounded fish.
*Casting-throwing a fishing line into the water using a rod and reel.
*Charter boat-boat used for hire and usually piloted by an experienced boat captain.
*Chaser-Is a lure with a hook at the end of a chain used when trolling.
*Catch and release.-Catching the fish and immediately release it. State regulations required that some fish should be release immediately after caught.
*Channel.-It refers to a submerged water stream, a river channel or a waterway that connect two bodies of water and that is usually safe for navigation.
*Chum.-Typically cut up pieces of fish thrown into the water to attract other fish.
*Clarity.-Deep or distance that we are able to see an object in the water.
*Cove.-A small sheltered bay or inlet at a shore line.
*Cocktail.-Combining two or more baits on the hook.
*Crankbait-cranks-crank.-A wooden or plastic lure that dives when cranked through the water.
*Creel limit.-As set by the state regulations is the number of fish that angles can keep or carry. Check regulations. www.myfwc.com/saltwater/regulations/
*Dabbing.-Working a lure up and down in the same spot.
*Dip net.-A net with a handle used to catch baitfish.
*Disgorger.-A device used to remove the hook from a fish throat where is not possible to use the fingers.
*Dolphin, dolphinfish or Mahi-Mahi.-The Dolphins as we know is that highly intelligent and friendly marine mammal related to whales. But in the Florida Keys is common to name another marine species Dolphin, this other species of fish is the Mahi-Mahi also called Dorado in some latitudes. Many get confused by the usage of the word Dolphin to name the Mahi Mahi.
*Downstream-downcurrent-downshore.-Referring to the direction taken by an object or a particular location in the water
*Drift fishing.-Fishing while drifting with the current.
*Drop off. – A sudden increase in the depth of the sea bottom, pinnacles, canyons or channels.
*Egg sinker.-An egg shaped fishing weight with a hole through the center for the line.
*Eyelets.-The line guides on the fishing rod.
*Feeding times.-The times of the day when fish feeds and is more active. Experienced angles associate the position of the sun and the moon with the fish behavior and the feeding times.
*Fillet.-Method used to separate the portions of flesh from the bony skeleton of the fish for human consumption.
*Fishing gear.-Is the fishing equipment used by anglers and commonly known as tackle.
*Fishing techniques.-These are the methods used by the anglers for catching fish, some fishing techniques are angling, spear fishing, trapping, hand gathering, netting, commercial fishing, recreational fishing. Fishing techniques and varied depend on many factors, targeting species behavior, locations, and the anglers knowledge.
*Fishing lures-a lure it’s a decoy, bait designed to look like fishing bait that moves and vibrates to attract the fish and is placed at the end of the fishing line and attached to the hooks. Different types of popular lures are the spinner or spinning lures, the jig is a lure with hooks that jerk up and down in the water, and the fly lure looks like an insect “a fly”
*Fishing reels-The fishing reel is a cylindrical gadget or device attached to the fishing rod and is use for winding and gathering up the fishing line. There are different types of fishing reels, but the spinning (fix spool) reel is the most practical and used. Most reels come with the anti-reverse system to prevent reel from spinning in reverse.
*Fishing rod or fishing pole.-Fishing rods are normally made of fiber glass, graphite, carbon fiber, bamboo and stainless steel. Fishing rods are identified by their weight and length. The rob should have a gradual taper from the butt to the tip and be designed to fight different size and variety of fish.
*Fishing line.-Fishing line is a cord used for angling and made of different materials, weights and lengths, nylon the monofilament fishing lines are the most commonly used. Monofilament these lines have the qualities of being able to stretch more and last longer than other types of lines.
*Flat or Backcountry Fishing.-Flats or backcountry fishing, or fishing the back country flats is a terminology used throughout South Florida and the Keys to mention the art of fishing in the shallow and not to deep waters of areas near the shore line’s where abundant species of fish (coastal fish) lives and reproduce at all times. Flat fishing is not a complicated and easy to learn. Also inshore fishing.’
*Fly fishing.-Fishing or angling with and artificial fly for bait as a lure.
*Florida rigging-Florida Rig.-In Florida rigging the hook is secured to small plastic worm or bait so that the hook doesn’t protrude. How to accomplish this? A weight sinker is threaded into the line and the fish hook tide to the end of the line. The hook is inserted into the soft plastic bait and brought through until only the eye remains embedded into the bait, then rotating the hook so it becomes embedded into the body of the bait.
*Free spool.-The reel that allows the line to be feed without drag or any resistance.
*Game fist.-Marine fish pursued by anglers for recreational or sport fishing.
*Gear-fishing gear.-Any of the tools and equipment used for fishing.
*Honey hole.-Term used to describing a particular spot or area where catchable is grouped and gathered.
*Inactive fish-inactive time-lockjaw fish.-Referring to fish that is not in the feeding frenzy or mood at an inactive time of the day. Weather changes and cold fronts are cause of inactive times and changes on fish behavior.
*Jerkbait.-A plastic bait that resembles a darting bait fish when jerked during fishing.
*Jig fishing-jigging-fishing with a jig.-Fishing using a type of fishing lure named a jig. A typical jig consists of a sinker with a hook used to attract fish.
*Keeper.-It’s typically any fish that is worth taking home.
*Line guides.-The rings through which the fishing line passes on the fishing rod.
*Livebox.-A box where live baitfish or caught fish is kept.
*Livewell.-The compartment on some boats where designed to hold water to keep the fish alive and fresh.
*Long-lining.-Trolling a bait a long distance behind the boat.
*Lure or fishing lures.-A fishing lure looks like, resembles or is similar to bait fish, it’s attached to the end of the fishing line and when is in the water moves or vibrates, the lure has hooks attached to its ends and sides, so the fish will think that is a fish or food and bite.
*Lunker-Hawg.-A large gamefish.
*Marker buoy.-Used in fishing to mark the location of a large school of fish in open water.
*Migration route.-The pass fallowed by the fish when migrating from one location to another.
*Mono.-Monofilament fishing line.
*Moon times.-Experienced angles know and study the action of the moon over the marine species.
*Outrigger.-Is a pole or devise used to keep the fishing lines from tangling when using the method of fishing called trolling in which one or more fishing lines are thrown behind a moving boat.
*Overfishing.-Fishing without caring for the fish population.
*PFD.-Life jacket or flotation safety device.
*Possession limit.-The maximum limit or amount of fish that a person can possess at one time. www.myfwc.com/saltwater/recreational/regulations
*Pro.-Elite fishermen who make a living from fishing.
*Reef fish.-Fish that lives near or in the ecosystem of the coral reefs.
*Salt Water Regulations.-Salt water fishing is regulated to avoid over fishing and protect our ecosystem, get familiar with these regulations to ensure you a good fishing experience and no complications. Refer to www.myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/ (fishing regulations section)
*Shoal.-A submerged bar, bank or ridge.
*Shore-fishing.-Fishing from the shore.
*Short strike.-Fish hits the lure but misses it.
*Size limit.-Legal size of the fish caught. Refer to. www.myfwc.com/saltwater/recreational/fish size.
*Sinker.-A weight used to sink the line.
*Sink and draw.-During lure fishing the rod is slowly raised during retrieval and thrown back, the lure appears to be a wounded fish using this method.
*Skiff-flatbed skiff. – These are smaller in size boat for one person or small crew with a flat bottom and normally used in shallow or not to deep coastal waters for back country or flats fishing.
*Skirted lure.-A lure use for trolling that resembles a squid.
*Slack line.-The loose section of line in between the tip of the rod and the lure.
*Sport fishing.-Sport fishing competitions take place in the Florida Keys very often but the term sport fishing does not only apply to competition, any form of angling for recreational proposes is considered by many as sport fishing.
*Tackle.-Is the equipment used for fishing, hook, lines, floats, reels, lures, baits, traps, spears, rods, gaffs are considered tackle. Terminal tackle is the gear attached to the end of the fishing line; tackle box is where the angler keeps the gear.
*Trolling. – When we trail a baited line to catch fish from behind a moving boat or vessel, or to be more precise, trolling is a popular method of fishing behind a moving boat with one or more fishing lines baited with fish bait of our choice. This method of fishing is more used to catch deep sea fish as sailfish, mackerel or king fish, and trawling is the method of fishing used when a net is drawn through the water instead of lines and is used in commercial fishing with the idea of catching large quantities of fish.
*Trolling backwards-Back-trolling. – Making the boat move backwards, a boat controlling method used to make certain maneuvers while trolling a lure in front of the boat.
Use the here embedded map of Key Largo to find your way around here. Fallow the same driving rules used in every other city of the continental USA… and be safe! The speed limit is very important when driving on US 1, and it’s enforced by the law. Once you get to US 1 past Florida City (south of the Florida Turn Pike) the speed limit is on 50’s, and the highway patrol is at it.
This map shows where all of these major tourist attractions are located.
Key Largo is only two hours away from the main land, from the point at the end of the Florida Turnpike and beginning of US 1, Florida City. The other way to get to the north or Upper Key Largo area is through the Card Sound Road and Bridge when driving from the main land, Florida City. The Upper Key Largo areas have Botanical State Parks, National Wild Life Refuges, Marinas, the John Pennekamp State Park and the Underwater Marine Sanctuary.
It’s the first of the the Florida Keys when driving south on US1. It extends from Mile Marker 107 to Mile Marker 90 on the Highway.The big Welcome to Key Largo and the Florida Keys sign will let you know of your arrival here. US 1 is the main drive that communicates to all of the areas of the Florida Keys.
What to do in Key Largo?
Kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, many forms of fishing,recreational boating, para sailing and eco tours are some of the most common activities of the Florida Keys.
When you are here look to be outside a tune with Mother Nature, possibly bird watching, hiking on nature trails, looking at the wild life, manatees, dolphins, etc.
This town has some of the best hotels and resorts on the Florida Keys these days. And the friendly staff wants to make sure that you will want to come back to have a great time here!