History of Windley Key

Drilling at Windley Key

In 1908, Henry Flagler purchased the Windley Key property from the Russel Family for $852.80.  Flagler was in search for fill for building the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. The 18-foot elevation of the property made it an ideal place to quarry rock fill for Flagler’s railroad.

During the construction of the railroad, Flagler used the limestone rock from this quarry to raise the road beds and for fill for the bridge approaches. From Flagler’s detailed record keeping, it is estimated that 17 million cubic yards of material were used for fill. This is the equivalent of more than one million dump trucks. Most of this work was done by excavators and dredging the waterways adjacent to the islands, but incredibly 1. 6 million cubic yards was moved by hand!

After the construction of the railroad, the limestone was quarried in large blocks, cut into slabs polished and used to decorate buildings. Several of the machines that were used in this process are on display at the park. The channeling machine that sits on top of the wall at the Windley Quarry was used to cut 10-ton blocks of the “keystone” from the quarry walls.  The blocks were then drug across the quarry floor to the slabbing machine using the gin pole.  The gin pole motor and remnants of the slabbing machine are also found in the Windley Quarry.

Visitor's Center

In addition to the artifacts in the quarries, the Allison Fahrer Environmental Education Center showcases exhibits about the natural, cultural and geological history of the area.  The education center is open during park hours, Thursday – Monday from 8 am -5 pm.