"" Writer's Wanderings: Seven Mile Bridge Walk

Friday, January 20, 2023

Seven Mile Bridge Walk

About a week after we were settled in, our Florida son came to stay a night with us. He had a free day and wanted to show us the new park for the Old Seven Mile Bridge that had been finished not long ago. It was quite a drive down to Marathon but it was a nice day for a walk.

The Old Seven Mile Bridge was built in the early 1900s as part of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway's Key West Extension known also as the Overseas Railroad. Henry Flagler played a big part in the history of development in the Keys. When it was abandoned because of extensive damage from the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, Florida bought the rail bridge right of way in 1936 for $640,000 and converted it to vehicular traffic which was quite an engineering feat.

When the new bridge was constructed in the 1980s, the old one was no longer used for vehicle traffic. The Old Bridge which goes to Pigeon Key is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the significant engineering it took to convert the bridge from railway to vehicle traffic. 

In 2021, the Florida department of transportation completed the rehabilitation of two miles of the Old Bridge to Pigeon Key and it is now a biking/walking path. Along the sides of the bridge are old rails from the original railroad. They were used as guard rails for the bridge when it was converted to vehicular traffic.

The walk was very nice in cooler Florida temperatures that day and with a gentle breeze blowing across the open water. Next to the Old Bridge we could see the traffic on the new one moving freely north and south but we were a bit more interested in the pelicans and fishing boats that passed by. I hear that on occasion you can see turtles and even rays in the water.

If you visit from the north, you need to be careful not to miss the parking lot for the Old Bridge. It's seven miles before you can turn around. There are only about 35 spots to park so people pull in and cruise slowly or just sit and wait for a spot to become available. 

We didn't make the four mile round trip but we did make a one mile round trip. We were getting hungry and the promise of lunch at the Keys Fisheries in Marathon was calling. We have found reasonably priced stone crab claws in the upstairs bar in the past. They were less expensive than the ones we'd found in Key Largo but we opted to get sandwiches and lionfish tacos down at the grill next to the market.

Bob and I were still interested in the stone crab for dinner so we asked if we could get them to go. They sent us back down to the little market and thankfully they did. The market had what they called "brokens" but Key Largo calls "uglies" at about half price. We bought enough for our dinner and packed them in ice for the trip back. 

That night we used a claw hammer and pliers to crack the shells and indulged in a delightful crab dinner. Tasty!

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