Life in The Keys

Overseas Highway: The Impact of Roads on Real Estate in the Florida Keys

The development of Florida Keys real estate is directly linked to the creation of roadways in the islands. Before the chain was connected to the mainland of Florida, homes in the Florida Keys were sparsely inhabited by the early pioneers making a living primarily by growing crops like pineapples and limes. Most of the land was either undeveloped, or used as working farmland.

The revolution in Florida Keys real estate began in 1912 when Henry Flagler completed his Overseas Railway. Flagler’s vision was to extend his Florida East Coast Railway that he previously had built to connect his business ventures throughout Florida, all the way down to Key West. Flagler recognized the new business and trading opportunities that were opening up at the time because of the construction of the Panama Canal. Flagler was looking to capitalize on trade with South America as well as with the American West, and needed the deep water harbor at Key West in order to do that. He spent the next several years seeing his vision become a reality.

By 1912, the railroad stretched all the way down to Key West, and the Keys became easily accessible. With the railroad came an influx of goods and people into the Florida Keys. Post offices were established first, and people began to move into the area as new jobs became available.

One of the most important events in the history of the regions real estate was the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The hurricane completely leveled much of the Keys, including Flagler’s Overseas Railway. When Flagler’s company went bankrupt after his death, they lacked the funds necessary to rebuild the railroad. Left with no other option, the railroad was sold to the State of Florida. Florida government officials had their sights set on transforming the railroad into a highway. Since the railroad had brought larger numbers of residents to Florida Keys real estate, it seemed only natural to facilitate even more movement throughout the area. Additionally, the hurricane brought in a new wave of real estate in the Florida Keys, with homes needing to be rebuilt.

Visit our Florida Keys Real Estate resource center for additional information about topics that affect the real estate in that region.

The Florida Keys was transformed by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Florida Keys homes needed to be rebuilt, and many new neighborhoods were created. Henry Flagler’s damaged Overseas Railway that connected the Keys to the mainland of Florida was sold to the state to be converted into an automobile highway. The creation of a highway throughout the Florida Keys was hugely important to the development of real estate in the area. While it is generally remembered that the highway came about as a result of the hurricane destroying the railroad, the history of the Overseas Highway begins much sooner than that.The early part of the twentieth century saw a huge land boom for real estate in South Florida. Land developers and entrepreneurs were building up areas like Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and Coconut Grove. Real estate in the Florida Keys became highly desirable, but highly difficult to get to, with the only way to get to the area being by railroad.In 1919, talk of the necessity of building a highway really got underway. The discussion had two primary players: the Miami Motor Club, who wanted to provide tourists with the unparalleled fishing grounds of the Florida Keys; and land developers who knew that a roadway would provide access to the untapped Florida Keys real estate market. Left to figure out the logistics of the construction were the county commissioners of both Dade County and Monroe County. The county commissioners decided to build the highway following the route of the railroad. They ran into trouble when the Miami Motor Club spoke up in opposition. Since their motives were to bring tourists to the Keys for fishing, they wanted the roadway to follow the fishing routes along Card Sound. After much debate, it was decided that the road would follow the fishing route of Card Sound. With the initial decision made, construction could begin.

Visit our Key West Real Estate resource center for additional information about topics that affect the real estate in that region.

The Overseas Highway, from the beginning of its construction, greatly contributed to Florida Keys real estate. When initial construction began, it was a joint venture between Dade and Monroe County. Dade County was responsible for building a connection to the county line where Dade becomes Monroe County. Residents of Monroe County approved $300,000 in bond money for the road that began at the Angler’s Club in Key Largo, followed down the coast toward the Key Largo Depot, and made its way along the railroad line to Matecumbe homes. This was to be the roadway of the Upper Keys real estate. Additionally, Monroe County also approved another stretch of road in the Lower Keys.

The beginning of construction on the Overseas Highway immediately jump-started the Florida Keys real estate market. The Upper Keys became home to many subdivisions, the first of which was the North Carolina Fishing Village in 1924. The following year saw Angler’s Park, Angler’s Shores, Sunset Cove, Palma Sola, Key Largo City Gardens, Seaside, Atlantic View, B.C. Moreno’s, Thompson’s, Tavernier, and Tavernier Cove. Islamorada was quickly becoming one of the most popular areas with its subdivisions as well. With the subdivisions came many people quickly purchasing property in the budding Florida Keys real estate market, and coming by train to survey the land. This influx of people made it necessary to further add residential roads as well.

One of the primary land developers of Upper Florida Keys was Charles Sexton. Sexton purchased much of the land around the Key Largo Depot with the vision of building the “Venice of the Keys.” Much of the early development of Key Largo homes owe their beginnings to Sexton. This area today is known as Sexton Cove.

The initial $300,000 bond given to the builders of the highway quickly ran out, and another vote was necessary. An additional $2.5 million was given for the project. However, even this with cash infusion, the immediate future of traveling throughout Florida Keys real estate would rely on the use of ferries.

Visit our Islamorada Real Estate resource center for additional information about topics that affect the real estate in that region.

The initial development of real estate in the Florida Keys largely depended on the building of the Overseas Highway. Monroe County began construction on the Card Sound pass to connect the Upper Keys to the extension that Dade County was building. At the same time, a roadway was being constructed in the Lower Keys to connect Key West all the way to No Name Key. While roadways were underway in the Upper Keys and Lower Keys, the middle of the chain of islands was left undeveloped. Therefore, in order to travel the entire way north or south, ferries were needed to traverse the water. Employing three ferries purchased for $850,000 from Gibb’s Shipyard in Jacksonville, the Overseas Highway was officially opened on January 25, 1928. Florida Keys real estate was free to continue developing.

While travel to and from Key West was impossible without the ferries, it was not the ideal solution for the roadway. One ferry was designated for the northbound route, one for the southbound route, and the third was kept in case of emergency. Each trip was 41 miles, and took approximately four hours to complete. Additionally, only 20 cars could fit on each ferry. This time-intensive trip cost $3.50 for passenger vehicles. The driver was included in this fee, but each additional passenger was charged $1.00 for the passage.

With traveling throughout the Keys much more accessible, and more people traveling throughout the area, homes in the Florida Keys began springing up throughout the islands. More people meant more residential roads being built.

Quickly, however, people realized that the ferries were unreliable and too time-consuming, so plans were made to find a solution that eliminated the need for the ferries. The problem came when the Army Corps of Engineers went to estimate the cost of filling the gap with a bridge built over the water. The estimate came at over $7.5 million, a huge cost when the United States economy was in a major depression. The future of the Overseas Highway was now in the hands of the president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Visit our Key West Real Estate resource center for additional information about topics that affect the real estate in that region.

The need to replace the slow and unreliable ferries that were required to complete the trip to Key West came a huge price tag of $7.5 million. When the request for funds was sent to Washington, Roosevelt approved the project, but with the nation in an economic depression, no money was sent. With no option and no money, Monroe County and Key West simultaneously filed for bankruptcy. The future of Florida Keys real estate was in jeopardy.

While all of this was going on, Washington was being bombarded by war veterans seeking to gain access to their bonus for fighting in World War I. Roosevelt came up with a plan to take care of both problems at one time, and through the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), sent the veterans to the Keys to work on the bridge.

In 1935, Florida Keys real estate was slammed by a major category five hurricane. One of the primary casualties was Henry Flagler’s railroad. With the majority of the real estate in the Florida Keys located in Key West, it was vital to the success of Monroe County to either rebuild the railroad or finish the highway. With the Florida East Coast Railway bankrupt, it was sold to the State of Florida for the completion of the highway. Capitalizing on loans and the promise of toll money, the Overseas Highway was finally open for automotive traffic in 1938.

Throughout the years, changes have been made to the highway, and renovations have been completed, particularly to the Seven Mile Bridge. Despite the changes, the huge impact on the Keys is obvious. Because of the Overseas Highway, people began moving in large numbers to homes in the Keys. As real estate began developing, other industries developed as well. Without the Overseas Highway, real estate in the Florida Keys would not have developed as quickly or with as much importance. The Overseas Highway was the catalyst for development, and the link for homes in the Keys to the mainland. Today, homes for sale in the Florida Keys are highly in demand for those seeking a leisurely lifestyle. This lifestyle, however, was forged on the backs of those who built the first roads throughout the Keys.

Visit our Key West Real Estate resource center for additional information about topics that affect the real estate in that region.

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Swimming with the Dolphins 12-14-18

Hi Ya All, Blondiepie here, just returning from our trip to The Dolphin Research Center for Christopher’s birthday! Yay!! We had the best time, and I’m sure Christopher will remember this day for the rest of his life and if not there is always all the pictures and videos we took.

If you ever come to The Keys you just gotta make a stop at the Dolphin Research Center, everyone there was so nice and the dolphins were so friendly. I never knew when they go sideways in the water their looking at you. My mother thought there was something wrong with her at first, but she was just looking up at us. They only use females to swim with.

The video’s below are short clips, don’t worry they are not long. Hope you enjoy!

Christopher swam with two dolphins named Diva and Windly. You can watch below all the fun Christopher had.

Did you Know?

Defining Culture

Do dolphins and whales have culture as we know it? Discover ideas which may point to culture in these animals and the hurdles that scientists contend with when trying to prove that they possess culture.

In order for a species to possess culture, a few basic requirements must be met. One of those requirements is that a species engages in shared behaviors which vary between populations and are perpetuated across generations. Additionally, these behaviors must be acquired through social learning and be independent of genetic factors in order to be considered culturally transmitted.

Bottlenose dolphins show the strongest evidence of possessing culture within the infraorder Cetacea. It is a gregarious species, displaying distinct shared behaviors among different groups, which appear to be passed on from mother to calf or between associated individuals. Bottlenose dolphins are also well known for their strong capacity to observe and imitate both vocalizations and motor skills. This strongly suggests that many behaviors are acquired though social learning. Social learning is the most likely explanation for shared behavior in most cases, but lack of proof keeps this a speculation. Further research is necessary to provide concrete evidence that these behaviors are truly passed on via social learning before science, as a whole, may accept culture in the bottlenose dolphin under the current definition.

Bottlenose dolphins have been extensively studied in both human care and in the wild. They are long-lived animals that can sometimes exceed 30-50 years of age. They are social animals that live in complex, ever changing communities, where individuals have long term associations with other individuals that are repeated but not necessarily constant. Bottlenose dolphin societies are comprised of a large number of individuals with distinct subgroups. These subgroups include:

  • maternity bands, made up of females and their calves or females of the same age and state of reproduction
  • juvenile groups, consisting of youngsters that have become independent from their mothers
  • bachelor groups, alliances of 2-3 adult males which have the most stable bonds in bottlenose dolphin society outside the mother and calf bond (Reynolds, et al., 2000).

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are well known for the “plasticity” in their behavior and apparent cognitive ability (Reynolds, et al., 2000). The discovery of these traits, coupled with the social nature of these animals, has led scientists to speculate whether or not bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans have culture. Seemingly, the most difficult aspect of determining whether a species has culture is the definition of culture itself. Ethologists, biologists, anthropologists and psychologists all have varying views on how to define culture. Some authors define culture in a very broad sense, while others restrict it to certain properties that are often unable to be determined in species outside of humans.

I just want to thank The Dolphin Reseach center for making Christopher’s Birthday one of the best birthday’s yet!


Dolphins are mammals, and have characteristics which are distinct to mammals. They have three middle ear bones, and they have hair at some point during their life cycles, and females have mammary glands which are used to nurse their young. The ocean can be a very harsh place for a mammal to live. However, dolphins are uniquely adapted for the marine environment. How have dolphins and other marine mammals come to live in an aquatic world? Scientists believe evolution holds the key to the answer.

Based on DNA, molecular, and genetic studies, the current theory suggests that cetaceans share a common heritage with that of the hippopotamus. This theory would place cetaceans in the group formerly known as Artiodactyl (now Cetartiodactyla), composed of even toed ungulates (deer, sheep, cows, pigs, hippos, etc.) New skeletal discoveries seem to back this claim, giving possible morphological evidence as testimony. Scientists have recently discovered ancient whale skeletons in Pakistan with well-preserved anklebones displaying features similar to that of the Artiodactyl group. Inside their pectoral fins, dolphins have a skeletal structure similar to a human arm and hand. They have a humerus, complete with a ball and socket joint. They have a radius and ulna, as well as a complete hand structure, including five phalanges, or finger bones. This is one of the many internal physiological structures leading scientists to believe that dolphins and whales evolved from a terrestrial ancestor.

The terrestrial ancestor of the cetacean quickly adapted to a new aquatic niche and the evolutionary process continued at a rapid rate. When animals move into unoccupied niches, evolutionary radiation tends to act swiftly, as it appears to have done in this case. Pakicetus the terrestrial extinct genus that is currently thought to be the direct ancestors to the modern cetaceans.

Ambulocetus is a semi-aquatic to aquatic ancestor to modern day cetaceans which lived approximately 49 million years ago. This evolutionary link displayed subtle changes, resembling a terrestrial animal less and a marine mammal more. The legs on the Ambulocetus were shorter and more paddle-shaped. However, it probably still spent some time on land. The nostrils of this cetacean ancestor had also migrated to the top of the snout, probably to facilitate more efficient breathing. Ambulocetus expended less energy breathing because it only had to poke its nostrils above water as opposed to its whole head.

The oldest and most primitive whales were the Protocetids, a family of archaic whales or Archaeocetes. These whale ancestors arrived around 50 million years ago, during the Eocene Epoch. Due to the locale of their remains, it appears that the earliest phases of cetacean evolution, including the Protocetids, were confined to the Tethys Sea. The jaw of this animal is much more slender and elongated than that of the Ambulocetus. The shape of Protocetus is not entirely clear because most skeletal structures discovered are not complete. It appears that they still had hind limbs, and that their life style may have been amphibious, rather than fully aquatic.

About 38 to 45 million years ago, Basilosaurus, the largest known advanced Archaeocete, appeared. The skeletons of these animals have been found as far south as New Zealand and Antarctica. The spread of this early cetacean would indicate its successful adaptation to aquatic life. Basilosaurus was, in fact, fully aquatic. The forelimbs of Basilosaurus were elongated flippers/paddles. As they elongated, the cartilage between the phalanges fused, preventing the joints from curling. The sinuses in the skull base of the Basilosaurus enlarged, a feature seen also in early toothed and baleen whales. The hind limbs of Basilosaurus became virtually non-existent. At this point, the only function that the hind limbs might have served would have been for alignment in mating, or for pushing off of the bottom of the ocean. While Basilosaurus is one of the best known Archaeocetes, analysis of the skull suggests that Basilosaurus does not have any direct modern relatives.

There were many other evolving forms that led to the modern-day cetacean. Baleen whales and toothed whales diverged from a common ancestor around 35 million years ago. The family Delphinidae made its appearance around 11 million years ago, while the bottlenose dolphin emerged only about 2-5 million years ago. Through evolution, dolphins have made significant adaptations to become the aquatic marvels that you see today.


Babies are usually born tail first, weigh 25-40lbs, and are generally three to four feet long (Wells 1999). We can get an approximate idea of how old a baby is by looking at the dorsal fin. It is thought that the dorsal fin stiffens within a few hours. The tail flukes seem to take a bit longer.

A baby dolphin swims in a position next to its mother called the echelon position. The baby swims in this position to catch mom’s slipstream, allowing the calf to work less hard in order to keep up with its mother.

When babies are born they have lighter colored bands spanning their mid section. These are called fetal bands and are caused from being scrunched up in the mother’s womb. These bands will slough off after multiple weeks.

Newborn dolphins are very dark in color. It is possible that this dark shading is used for camouflage as the baby travels in the mother’s shadow. This coloration also sloughs off after multiple weeks.

When we assess the health of a newborn, we look for good body weight and good breathing. Another way we can get a good indication of the baby’s health is from the mother’s behavior. If she is relaxed and comfortable, it is a good sign. If a baby is not healthy, a mother will usually display frantic and erratic behavior.

When babies are new to the world, they have to get used to their bodies not only swimming, but also breathing. They have to get comfortable with their blowhole’s location. As a result, babies do something called chin slap breathing, which involves lifting their heads farther out of the water than necessary to breathe.

Echolocation is an ability that babies learn how to use over time. For this reason babies end up with a few cuts and scrapes within the first weeks of life.

Due to the need to look out for a clumsy calf, you sometimes see mothers “steering” their calves away from what might be considered a danger. Merina had a lot of steering to do within her daughter Pandora’s first very active days of life. Pandora was quite spirited and would often try and race in front of her mother. We often saw Merina physically pick Pandora up with her rostrum and place her in another part of the pool.

Christopher’s Birthday cake made by Grandma and decorated by me Blondiepie! GET MORE INFO ON DOLPHINS AT:

At The Beach 11/18/18


I’m at Sombrero Beach in Marathon Fl.