To me, building bridges is one of man’s most amazing feats. To build the infrastructure underwater needed to support traffic is something my little right-brained self can’t comprehend. Now, consider the Overseas Highway, stretching 127.5 miles and connecting the mainland with Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and, ultimately, Key West (Great American Things, July 14, 2009). I think it’s a modern wonder of the world.
The original highway followed the route of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. Flagler constructed the necessary bridges to get rail connections to Key West, but his enterprise ultimately encountered financial problems and shut down. Then a major hurricane in 1935 destroyed much of the infrastructure, and the remnants of the rail line were sold to the state of Florida. It didn’t take many years for the bridges to be expanded to take auto traffic, and this amazing highway became a reality.
They say it’s about a four-hour drive now from Miami to Key West. Drivers now can enjoy not only the beautiful Gulf waters, but a variety of wildlife along the way. The Highway is part of Route 1, and includes 47 bridges, the 7-Mile Bridge being the most famous. In 2009, the Overseas Highway joined such famous byways as Route 66, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and Route 1 – Big Sur as an “All-American Road”, designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.