Friday, January 22, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - Today In History - January 22

Henry M. Flagler, American tycoon, built the Overseas Railway as an extension to his Florida East Coast Railway. The Overseas railway ran from Miami Florida to Key West, and was completed January 22, 1912. I've mentioned Henry Flagler in other PFF posts - we could not write about the east coast of Florida without speaking of Flagler, who invested over $50 million of his own money on buildings, hotels and railroads. It all began when doctors advised he take his ill wife (from his first marriage) to live in Jacksonville Florida. He knew there was a potential for growth in the warm sunny state, could not find a suitable hotel, and so it began.
The city of Miami, by the way, was almost named "Flagler". Henry declined the honor, preferring to give the city a Native American name. He suggested the Mayaimi who lived around Lake Okeechobee. The name Maiyami refers to the lake and means "big water."

The card was sent by one of the celebrants, and was postmarked Key West, Florida on February 5 (or perhaps 8th), 1912.

Celebrating the First Train
Thousand of people came out to celebrate the arrival of the first train to Key West. Upon completion, this railroad extension built over deep water was viewed as the 8th Wonder of the World - this came after years of being viewed as Flagler's Follie.

Henry Flagler built beautiful resorts all along the route of his East Coast and Overseas trains, including the Ponce De Leon in St Augustine and the Royal Poinciana in Palm Beach. His Long Key Fishing Camp on Long Key was a stopping place for the rich and famous. He advertised the best fishing in the world, and hosted Zane Grey, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to name a few.

The veiw from Long Key

The fishing camp initially served as housing for the railroad laborers, and then was refurbished into a resort that consisted of a hotel and a number of cottages.
From the mid 1800's, Key West, believe it or not, was the most populous city in Florida. Most of the state was a frontier with smatterings of towns and villages but Key West had long been a shipping port. Major industries in the early 1800's included salt production, fishing, and the very lucrative business of wreck salvaging. Later cigar making and then tourism, which is the main income source of Key West today.
Once the Panama Canal was completed, Key West became a stopping point for Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic shipping.
The Labor Day hurricane of 1935 destroyed much of the railroad. It also destroyed the Long Key Fishing Camp, but more importantly took hundreds of lives including those of about 400 WWI veterans who were part of a federal work force that improved roads and worked on mosquito control.
The FEC could not afford to rebuild the railroad. Instead, US Hwy 1 was extended from Miami to Key West and the days of the wealthy enjoying the sights of the Keys from one's own private railroad car were over.

Stop by Marie's Voila! Vintage Postcards for more Postcard Friendship Friday fun!


jeannette stgermain said...

Love your header -beautiful! You really want to be a hermit?? It maybe nice for a month...but then it would be boring to me:)

Bob of Holland said...

Again a fascinating piece of history and a beautiful vintage card. Thanks and happy PFF.

Postcardy said...

Interesting history.

viridian said...

Thank you for the hisotry, and happy PFF.

Snap said...

Cool card .. I do love trains ... thanks for the history, too. Happy PFF!

Sheila said...

Stunning perspective in the first card, and the view from Long Key is just beautiful. thanks for all the background history. I love this series.

AnitaNH said...

I love reading your PFF posts. They are always so informative!

Lyneen said...

PFF thanks for the bit of history... to think Miami's success started due to a sick wife. HIstory is full of hidden secrets.

Beth Niquette said...

Wonderful postcard, fascinating history! Happy PFF!

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