Florida’s Old Seven Mile Bridge
One hundred years ago, Henry Flagler dreamed up and built an historic “railroad that went to sea,” in Florida. Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” at the time, the steel and concrete bridge ran down Florida’s eastern coastline and opened mainland Florida and its small string of islands or “Keys” up to the rest of the United States.
Trains ran along the route from 1912 to 1935 when a hurricane washed away miles of Flager’s railroad. Bankrupt, he was forced to sell the railroad to the state for one-seventh of what it cost to build. The State of Florida converted Seven Mile Bridge into an automotive bridge and it remained the only route connecting Miami to Key West until 1982, when an adjoining new bridge opened. Floridians now use the 2.2 mile open section of Old Seven Mile Bridge as a biking and walking path (a gap in the Old Seven Mile Bridge just south of Pigeon Key prevents visitors from reaching the other section), but it’s deteriorating quickly. A nonprofit community group called Friends of Old Seven was formed to save the bridge. Learn more at their website.