Flagler Railroad at Long Key

A black and white photo of the old railroad depot.

A businessman from New York, Henry Flagler was instrumental in the development of Florida into the state it is today. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, he built a railroad that extended from Jacksonville to Miami – called the Florida East Coast Railway – to link the northern and southern halves of the state. Along the route, he built various lucrative hotels, and expanded the infrastructure of the cities that the railroad passed through.

In 1905, after the US announced its intentions to build the Panama Canal, Henry Flagler saw the opportunities the new canal would give to nearby Key West, whose port could be a hub for trade. He decided to expand his existing railway, dubbing this extension “The Over-Sea Railroad.” The expansion was completed in 1912, officially linking the islands of the keys to the mainland, and opening them up to tourism.

Rich and famous tourists flocked to the railroad, and soon Long Key was home to a luxury fishing resort, called the Long Key Fishing Camp. The same saltwater fishing opportunities that attract people to the park today brought in avid anglers from far and wide. The resort even had its own miniature railway, which connected the island’s docks to its hotel and bungalows where guests could stay.

However, the resort wouldn’t last forever. In 1935, the Labor Day Hurricane swept through the Florida Keys, completely destroying the Long Key Fishing Camp. No longer suitable for the upscale guests it had previously serviced, the fishing camp closed permanently. 

Today, Long Key State Park allows guests to experience the natural beauty – and world-class fishing – that once made this little island so famous.

A view of an old sidecar from the railroad's early days.