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The cut coral walls of the quarry show a tree root growing down its side. This close-up view of the exposed coral walls shows the intricate twists, turns and markings that occur naturally in coral formations. The Alison Fahrer Environmental Education Center rises behind the quarry channeling machine displayed at the park. Colorful views of the sunset can be enjoyed from the porch at the Alison Fahrer Environmental Education Center.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
The quarry channeling machine sits on rails amid cut coral walls, looking much as it must have during its working days.

History and Culture

After Key West was settled, 'Conch' families moved up the Keys to establish small farming and fishing communities. In the mid-1800s, the Russell family homesteaded Umbrella Key, Windley Key's earlier name. The Russell family lived on the land until it was sold to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1908. The railroad was completed in 1912. The quarries and Windley Key Station continued to operate with local trains stopping daily to deliver fresh water and pick up mail and passengers. On return trips, shipments of polished 'keystone' were railed back to the mainland. The quarry was active into the 1960s and today stands as a preserved geological treasure.

The tents and board buildings in this 1906 photo were part of camp # 8 for workers on Flagler's Overseas Railroad.

Railroad Camp #8

From 1905-1912, Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway was the Key West Extension that would take the railroad from the Florida mainland to Key West. An important part of this operation was quarrying rock for various uses along the line. Workers lived in camps throughout the Keys. Railroad Camp #8 was set up inside the quarry at Windley Key. This quarry was used as a staging area for the building of the railroad. Hunks of coral were cut and used for decoration or crushed and used as fill.

Quarry operations Windley Key in 1940.

1940 Quarrying

The machine in this photo drilled and cut the coral in the quarry in 1940. Quarrying operations at Windley Key lasted through the 1960s.

This photo shows a gin pole up close, lifting material from the quarry.

Gin Pole

A gin pole is a rigid pole with pulleys that was used at the quarry during the 1900s for lifting purposes.

Photographer Verne Williams took this photo of cut coral at the quarry in 1935.

1935 Quarry

This photo of the quarry, taken by well-known photographer Verne Williams in 1935, shows blocks of cut coral.

Alison Fahrer and Florida Park Service Director Fran Mainella stand on the Education Center's balcony at Windley Key¿s 1999 Dedication.

Windley Dedication

Alison Fahrer and Fran Mainella cut the ribbon together at the dedication and opening of Windley Key in 1999. The Education Center is named for Alison Fahrer, in honor of her steadfast efforts to preserve Windley Key.