the seven mile bridge is a significant feat of 20th century engineering. the original bridge was built by henry flagler for his railroad in the early 1900's. sections of the old bridge still stands today and you can walk or bike to historic pigeon key. pigeon key was a camp for workers on the seven mile bridge. see the attached website for more info on pigeon key. if you have a boat there are a number of good fishing opportunties near the seven mile bridge. at certain times of the year under the bridge is an excellent place for tarpon fishing. also there are a couple of tiny islands just off the seven mile bridge oceanside that are excellent permit fishing spots.
I measured it in my car; yep it really is 7 miles.
You can pull off into a small parking lot and walk the 2.2 miles on the old bridge that runs along the side of the new 7 mile bridge. I think this is the best way to get pictures. There are also stairs on each side so you can walk down and get good pictures that way too. If you do walk the 2.2 mile bridge, you will find yourself on a very small island named Pigeon Key. There is a museum about the bridge there ($11.00 entry fee).
Looking up at the stars from the 7mile bridge on a clear night is amazing. Should take the old, pedestrian portion of the bridge as far out as you can to get away from the lights. A bike would be helpful, it's a long walk and very, very windy.
You can't avoid seeing this if you go to the Key West end of Marathon. And it is something that should be seen.
When Flagler decided to extend his railroad down to Key West (which was at the time one of the major cities in Florida), he was originally going to built the railroad on fill, because that was cheaper than building bridges. But the locals needed the channel south of Vaca Key to get their produce from the bay side to Key West. Moser Channel is the only deep water route from one side to the other.
So old Henry decided to build a bridge. Everyone said it could not be done. But he ordered special salt water cement from Germany, and his people built the bridge.
After his death, the railroad was losing money, and the 1935 hurricane decimated the Islamorada area. His widow sold the railroad to the government, and they put a road on top of the rail bed. They used the old tracks to make a railing along the sides of the bridge. The third picture shows the underneath of the old bridge and how much narrower the track portion was.
That was the road we used when we were living in Key West. The road was very narrow - so narrow that you had to fold in your left side mirrors, or you risked breaking them when you would hit the mirror of a vehicle coming the other direction.
Now there is a new fixed bridge (the old bridge was a draw bridge) with a high span. Sailors with 65 foot masts have to wait until low tide to get under this bridge. In addition to this picture of the old bridge in 2004 (with the high level fixed bridge on the left side), the 2nd picture was taken in the same spot in 1966 and shows the drawbridge. The fourth picture shows the two bridges side by side.
Before we ever went to the Keys we had seen pictures of this bridge. I even thought that a big part of the trip might be on these kind of bridges...
But in that's not the case, this bridge is one of 42 on the Keys but also by far the longest one.
It connects Marathon (Knight Key) with the lower keys, building started in 1979 and it was completed may 1982. The pieces where made elsewhere and assembled on location. The bridge was the replacement for the first seven mile bridge that originally served as a railroad bridge.
Because of the spectacular sight it has been used in the movies "True Lies" , "License to Kill" and "Up close and personal".
The total length of the bridge is 10.931 m and the bridge surface area us 205000m2.
Picture taken december 7, 2004
Watching the sunset from the Seven Mile Bridge is spectacular. There are also good vantage points from the banks on either side of the bridge. The mood is festive because a lot of people come to the bridge each night for the show. I loved the flocks of pelicans flying overhead. Come early to ensure a parking space.
A 4 hours jouney from Miami to Key West will be an ideal place to stop over, the fresh air and the sun... what else? A short nap could be fun.