Thursday, September 15, 2011

cayo paloma

Alright, alright, I admit it. I did an illegal thing, pulling off on the shoulder of the road on the 7 mile bridge for a non-emergency stop.

I was driving back down the Keys the other day and out the corner of my eye was Pigeon Key.
Now, I've been there a time or two for the annual arts and crafts festival but never thought it was much to
write home about.
Still, on that particular day, it seemed to be
calling out to me. . .
Artman. . . Artman. . . Artman. . .
(Christ, sometimes I just hate when that happens!!)

Long story short, I was compelled to pull off the road, get out of the car, nearly get creamed by a mile long Peterbilt seemingly doing a million miles an hour and take this
damned picture.
(it was the perfect place to become the proverbial bug
on the windshield)

But I got the shot and, very luckily, still live to tell the tale. . .

Pigeon Key, originally known as "Cayo Paloma" is a small, 5-acre island located off the old Seven Mile Bridge (seen in the background there) just short of 50 miles north of Key West, below Marathon Key in the middle Keys.

Early Spanish explorers named it for large flocks of White-crowned pigeons (Columba leucocephala Linnaeus) that roosted there.

Originally, Pigeon Key was a work camp for the Florida East Coast Railway.
During the building of Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad Key West Extension between 1908 and 1912, there were, at times, as many as 400 workers housed on the tiny island.

A few of the buildings from the Flagler era remain on the little rock and are now part of the Pigeon Key Historic District.
Today, they serve as housing for educational groups, administrative offices for the non-profit Pigeon Key Foundation and the Bridge Tender's House has been converted into a small museum.

The last thing I wanted to say about Cayo Paloma was a thought that came to me while I was editing the wide angle photograph seen above and has to do with that portion of the old Seven Mile Bridge.
By all accounts, it really is 7 miles from Pigeon Key to the next spit of coral (which I'm pretty sure is Duck Key to the south) and in between there's nothing but water. Can you imagine being on a train, running down that single track, wider than that single track with no railings on either side? Looking out the windows of the train on either side, all you'd see is water.
But for the bumping and grinding of the steel wheels,
I'll bet you could imagine that you were flying over the ocean.

How cool is that?


RumShopRyan said...

I'll be down that way tomorrow. Can you drive out to Pigeon Key? I would love to take some video and photos.


Arthur Winstanley said...

sorry amn - thurs to fri i work the overnight and by mid morning fri i'm pretty shot. if you're still on the campus sat, let me know where i can find you. best - a