Key West Bridges: Driving the Overseas Hwy and 7 Mile Bridge
Nestled at the tip of the Florida Keys, Key West holds a unique charm, an alluring blend of natural beauty, rich history, and architectural marvels.
- Historical Overview of Key West Bridges
- Bridges of Key West
- Activities Around the Bridges
Speaking of architectural marvels, it’s impossible to talk about Key West without mentioning its awe-inspiring bridges. Like veins carrying lifeblood, these structures connect the isles and the people, shaping the island’s lifestyle and its identity.
Imagine cruising down the Overseas Highway, the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the vibrant blue of the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
All the while, you’re driving over a series of bridges that seem to hang, suspended between the sky and the sea. It’s one of the most unforgettable journeys you can take in the U.S. Let’s dive into the world of Key West bridges.
Historical Overview of Key West Bridges
Before we journey over these magnificent structures, let’s journey back in time for a moment. Our tale begins at the dawn of the 20th century. Picture this: Florida was an untamed wilderness, and the Florida Keys were remote and disconnected. But that all changed with the arrival of one visionary: Henry Flagler.
Flagler, a wealthy industrialist, dreamt of connecting mainland Florida to Key West via a railway, an idea that many considered impossible. Undeterred, Flagler embarked on the Herculean task of creating the Overseas Railroad.
His dream came true in 1912 when the first train chugged into Key West. This historic event marked the birth of Key West bridges and changed the destiny of these once-isolated islands.
However, Flagler’s triumph was short-lived. A devastating hurricane in 1935 destroyed much of the Overseas Railroad.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The destroyed railroad was transformed into an automobile highway known as the Overseas Highway, utilizing many of the original bridge structures.
Fast forward to the present day, and these bridges have become a symbol of Key West, an inseparable part of its charm and history.
Whether you’re admiring the jaw-dropping expanse of the Seven Mile Bridge or exploring the historical depths of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, the bridges of Key West never fail to leave an indelible mark on its visitors.
So, sit tight, buckle up, and get ready to embark on this exciting journey across Key West bridges.
As we traverse these architectural wonders, we’ll delve into the tales they hold, explore the stunning vistas they offer, and discover why they’ve become such an integral part of Key West’s vibrant tapestry.
Bridges of Key West
The Engineering Marvel: Seven Mile Bridge
Meet the crown jewel of the Key West bridges, the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge. True to its name, it stretches a whopping seven miles across the open water, connecting Knight’s Key in the city of Marathon to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. But its remarkable length isn’t its only claim to fame.
When construction finished in 1982, the Seven Mile Bridge was one of the longest bridges in existence and undoubtedly one of the most ambitious feats of engineering.
Imagine, if you will, the colossal task of building a structure that spans seven miles of open ocean, subject to severe weather and unforgiving saltwater corrosion. It’s no wonder that the bridge is often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Today, the Seven Mile Bridge stands as a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance, a marvel that adds to the already stunning landscape of the Keys.
Whether you’re driving, biking, or even running during the annual Seven Mile Bridge Run, crossing this iconic bridge offers an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Feel the cool ocean breeze, marvel at the panoramic views, and enjoy the sheer thrill of traversing one of the world’s longest overwater bridges.
Old Seven Mile Bridge: The Historic Landmark
A stone’s throw from the new Seven Mile Bridge lies its predecessor, the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
Although no longer open to vehicular traffic, the Old Seven Mile Bridge carries a weight of history and nostalgic charm that continues to captivate its visitors.
Built at the beginning of the 20th century as part of Flagler’s Overseas Railroad, this bridge was a groundbreaking achievement of its time.
Despite being battered by hurricanes and the harsh passage of time, the Old Seven Mile Bridge stands as a monument to the indomitable spirit of human ambition.
Today, this historic landmark serves as a pedestrian and bike path, offering a peaceful and scenic route over the water. As you stroll or pedal along, you’re literally walking in the footsteps of history, tracing a path that was once the lifeline of the Florida Keys.
Beyond its historic charm, the Old Seven Mile Bridge also offers access to Pigeon Key, a tiny island that served as a base camp for the workers who built the original railroad.
Bahia Honda Bridge: A Paradise for Outdoor Activities
Not all bridges are just about crossing from one point to another; some offer adventures of their own, and the Bahia Honda Bridge is a prime example.
Spanning the channel between Bahia Honda Key and Spanish Harbor Key, this bridge is a gateway to a trove of outdoor activities in Bahia Honda State Park.
Once part of Flagler’s ambitious railroad, the Bahia Honda Bridge now stands as a silent observer of the park’s natural splendor. The bridge itself presents an excellent vantage point, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the island and surrounding waters.
But don’t stop at just admiring the views; immerse yourself in the myriad of outdoor activities that Bahia Honda State Park has to offer.
Fancy a swim? The park boasts some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys. Avid angler? Try your hand at fishing from the shores of the park. There’s even a marina providing boat slips for those who want to venture into the deeper waters.
Long Key Bridge: The Scenic Beauty
Speaking of scenic views, another star in the constellation of Key West bridges is the Long Key Bridge. Also known as the Dodge Memorial Bridge, it spans almost three miles, connecting Long Key to Conch Key.
More than just a path of travel, the Long Key Bridge offers a mesmerizing drive surrounded by expansive vistas of emerald green waters and azure skies.
One of the most exceptional sights to behold is the spectacular sunsets visible from the bridge.
Imagine watching the sun sink below the horizon, painting the sky in hues of orange and red as the day gives way to the twilight. It’s the kind of moment that takes your breath away and imprints itself onto your memory forever.
Activities Around the Bridges
Beyond being architectural marvels and historical landmarks, the bridges of Key West also open up a world of thrilling activities.
And why wouldn’t they? After all, they’re set in one of the most scenic locales in the world.
One of the most popular activities is fishing. The waters around the bridges are teeming with a diverse array of fish species.
Whether you’re a seasoned angler casting your line off the Bahia Honda Bridge or a beginner trying your luck in the flats around Long Key Bridge, the thrill of catching a tarpon, snook, or redfish is unmatched.
For the adventure enthusiasts, many of the bridges, like the Old Seven Mile Bridge, provide the perfect trail for biking and hiking. These routes offer stunning panoramic views, making your exercise regimen a scenic delight.
Or, you could even participate in the annual Seven Mile Bridge Run, a foot race that takes you across the iconic bridge.
And let’s not forget about the abundance of water sports. From snorkeling and diving in the crystal-clear waters to sailing and boating across the shimmering sea, the bridges provide access to some of the best spots in the Keys for aquatic adventures.
How many bridges are in Key West?
The exact number of bridges in Key West can vary depending on how you define the boundaries.
However, it’s important to note that the term “Key West” often refers to the whole chain of the Florida Keys, rather than just the city at the very end of the chain.
The Overseas Highway, which spans from mainland Florida to Key West, includes 42 bridges across the various keys.
What is the big bridge to Key West?
The biggest bridge on the route to Key West is undoubtedly the Seven Mile Bridge.
It is the longest bridge in the Florida Keys and connects Knight’s Key (part of the city of Marathon in the Middle Keys) to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.
The length of the bridge is, as the name suggests, approximately seven miles.
The bridges of Key West are far more than mere structures of steel and concrete. They are historical markers, engineering wonders, gateways to adventure, and testaments to human perseverance and ambition.
From the astonishing length of the Seven Mile Bridge to the historic depths of the Old Seven Mile Bridge and the scenic charm of the Bahia Honda and Long Key Bridges, each holds a unique place in the fabric of the Florida Keys.
As we traverse these bridges on the Overseas Highway, we’re not just undertaking a journey across miles; we’re experiencing a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty.