Driving on the Overseas Highway into the Florida Keys is a unique experience. This highway is a 113-mile (181-kilometer) series of roads and bridges, from the Florida mainland all the way down to our country's southernmost point -- Key West.
These bridges, currently open to vehicular traffic only, are achievements in engineering. They are the survivors of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway, intended to connect the Keys to the mainland. Construction began in 1905 and finished in 1912. However, Flagler's rail project was unfortunately short-lived. A 1935 hurricane destroyed more than 30 miles of track. Restoration took years. In the process, workers converted the rails to highways. The Knight's Key Bridge -- now called the Seven Mile Bridge for the nearly 7 miles (11.2 kilometers) of water it spans -- is breathtaking to traverse.
As you drive from Key Largo down to Key West, you can still see remnants of the old railroad bridges. Some of them abruptly end in the middle of the channel, a ghostly reminder of Flagler's railway dreams.