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Florida Keys Sights and The Unusual Conch Republic Secession
If Jay Leno Asked, "How Many Keys?"
If the former The Tonight Show's Jay Leno went Jay Walking to ask the man and the woman in the street how many Keys are in Florida, he would receive some interesting replies.
Some people would not understand that a key is a geographic structure.
Others might guess from the pop songs they have heard and from fleeting references to Ernest Hemingway in films that there exist perhaps three or four keys.
Others might answer "a dozen." Actually, sources often cite 60 Florida Keys, but one web page lists 100 different keys. How many do you know besides Key Largo and Key West? -- There are plenty more of them for fun and adventure in traveling.
Jay Leno Might JayWalk and Ask You On the Street
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Names of at Least 100 Keys are listed at "About the Florida Keys." Look at the Florida Keys, the changes in latitude, and learn about Key Largo, Upper Keys, Middle keys, Lower Keys, Marathon, Tavernier, Village of Islands and others.
Formation of the Florida Keys 60,000 to 100,000 Years Ago
Sometime in the distant past of Earth, a line of corals began forming west of what is now mainland Florida with the help of sea creatures and native plants. Once totally under the water, parts of the line of corals began to emerge from receding waters to become islands. Some geological survey data sources state that a few of the Keys did not appear above water until sometime between 1920 - 1930 or so.
In the last several decades, tidal waters have been rising once more and some of the Kays may lose a bit of land area.
Some islands, like Tortugas bank are still submerged west of Dry Tortugas National Park, which is a group of the coral islands that is uninhabited except by native wildlife and plants. The website KeyHistory.Org suggests that there are at least 882 charted islands in the coral chain that extends from about 30 miles southwest of Miami to Key Largo and extends to uninhabited places west of the popular endpoint of Key West.
Key West is about 113 miles from the eastern terminus of the major highway cutting through all the islands along bridges and land. A fantastic vacation includes driving the length of the highway and stopping on each island to enjoy its pleasures and history.
The Largest Florida Keys
West of Key West
You will find many more small islands west of Key West, which is not the western terminus of the island chain.
Selected Key ViewsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Keys Beyond Key West
Tortugas Bank - Submerged Further to the West
Why Did the Keys Try to Leave the United States?
The Keys Secede From the United States in 1982
Perhaps the most interesting element of the Florida Keys is their 23 April 1982 secession of Key West from the United States. Some residents of the Keys today tell me that they still wish to separate from the Union.
An act of Congress eventually allowed the residents of the Florida Keys to be awarded dual citizenship as American citizens and as Conch citizens (named after the local sea animal).
In April 1982 the US Border Patrol blockaded US Highway 1 at the entrance to the Florida Mainland at Florida City, Dade County. Citizens of the Keys felt that they had been thrown out of the Union. After the blockade stuck, officers required to see proof of citizenship from everyone driving up Highway 1 through the Keys to the mainland.
Incensed, the Mayor of Key West went to Miami City Hall to protest these actions and ask the blockade to withdraw. Failure of this saw Mayor Denis Wardlow become Premier of the Conch Republic, which rebelled against the US for 60 seconds and then surrendered to ask for a billion dollars in Foreign Aid.
Conch Days holidays are celebrated during the last week of April annually and Conch Republic naval forces attack US Coast Guard ships with water cannons and rolls of toilet paper for the audiences.
National Anthem of Conch Republic Sung by the Key Lime Pie Band
The Rebellion of 1995
War nearly occurred in Key West on September 20, 1995 when the US Army Reserve's 478th Civil Affairs Battalion began to exercise a simulation of invading a foreign land, but did not tell the government or people of Key West (Reference: military.gov).
The battalion landed and pretended Floridians were foreign nationals. Dennis Wardlow ordered water cannons on any and all available Key West water craft to be ready to shoot. Then, he filed a grievance with the Department of Defense. The army battalion actually went along with a ceremony of surrender on September 22.
Official National Website - Conch Republic
- Conch Republic.com
We seceded where others failed. We have passports and official Conch Republic gear.
Secretary General of the Conch Republic, Sir Peter Anderson, passed away from lung cancer at age 67 in his sleep at 9:18 a.m. on Wednesday, July 16th, 2014...Most notably. he was successful in encouraging cruise ships to give up dumping raw sewage into the ocean offshore, and install waste water treatment facilities on their ships.— Conch Republic Website
US Highway 1 through the Florida Keys
Nature of the Upper Keys
The Upper Keys are closest to Mainland Florida and The Everglades.
Eastern Terminus: Key Largo
The Christ of the Abyss
At 5:15 on the above nine-minute video, you will see the fish part to show The Christ of the Abyss statue. It was sculpted by Guido Galletti to honor Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian diver to use SCUBA gear.
The Key Largo statue was presented to the Underwater Society of America in New York in 1962 and taken to Key Largo in 1965. Located 25 beneath the sea, if offers an incredible aura of peace.
Key Largo is called the Diving Capital Of The World.
Upper Keys Highlights
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - Key Largo, Florida Keys
John Pennekamp State Park located in Key Largo, Florida Keys. The only concessionaire operating inside the park. Featuring glass-bottom boats, snorkel, sailing, scuba tours and family water fun.
- Keep Them Flying
Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, Tavernier, FL. Rescue, Rehab, Release. 5 acres of native hammock & shore-front property. Over 20 species of native & migratory wild birds.
- NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
The official website for the NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This site contains all of the official information on current Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary projects and events.
Florida Keys Overseas Highway is named All-American Road
The Middle Keys
The Middle Keys
Marathon Is the Major Key In the Middle
Marathon Key fearures an airport and many activities, like tours of the Dolphin Research Center (see links below), Turtle Hospital, Crane Hammock Point, and Sombrero Beach. The Seven Mile Bridge is here as well.
You can find 5-Star restaurants and resort hotels on Marathon, but also "Botels", which are motels with rooms on the waterfront that include a boat slip. Annual festivals on Marathon Key include Arts and Seafood celebrations and besides fine diing, there is casual dining aong the lines of shops in the business district.
Highlights of the Middle Keys
- Pigeon Key
Visit a museum about railroad great Henry Flagler, who built the first bridges linking Miami to Key West.
- Swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Research Center Marathon FL
Great family fun, meet and swim with dolphins & observe sea lions. Spend an hour or stay all day, fun-filled, exciting programs demonstrating these amazing animals
- The Turtle Hospital - Helping Sea Turtles Survive
Curry Hammock State Park
The Interesting Lower Keys
The Lower Keys
Highlights of the Lower Keys
- Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key
Bahia Honda State Park is a state park with an open public beach. Great Florida Keys Beaches and activities for all of the public.
- Florida Keys Community College
The Florida Keys Community College, located in Key West, Florida, offers unique opportunities for learning. The campus sits adjacent to the only living coral reef in the northern hemisphere, and, over the years, the area has inspired inspired adventu
- The Hemingway Home and Museum
Located at 907 Whitehead Street in Old Town Key West. The six-toed cats lurking about are likely the descendants of Ernest Hemingway's cats (see the tab marked Our Cats).
- Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society in Key West, Florida is a museum that showcases gold, silver, and varieties of treasures recovered from shipwrecks in the New World. View treasures from the Atocha, Santa Margarita, St. John' Wreck, and others.
- National Key Deer Refuge | US Fish and Wildlife Service - The National Key Deer Refuge was established in 1957 to protect and preserve Key Deer and other wildlife resources in the Florida Keys. The refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and currently consists of approximately 9,200 acres of land, under ongoing preservation work.
Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West
Built beginning in 1845, Fort Zachary Taylor was important to the Union Army during the American Civil War, but was remodeled and used in the Spanish American War in the 1889.
The fort was not completed until about 1866 after 20 years of construction, but when it was, it included a type of flush toilets flushed by the Gulf of Mexico tides. It also had a desalination system for creating fresh drinking water.
A National Historic Place and National Landmark, Fort Zachary Taylor is home to the largest cadre of Civil War cannons in the USA.
The beaches surrounding this landmark are used for swimming and snorkeling expeditions. There are also free BBQ grills, bathrooms, and changing cabanas for users.
Western Terminus: Key West Virtual Tour
Musical Keys: Songs About the Florida Keys
Songs About the Florida Keys
- Clambake. Artist: Elvis Presley
- Down In The Florida Keys. Artist:Tom T. Hall.
- Gulf Coast Highway - Darius Rucker & Nanci Griffith
- Key Largo - Written by Berti Higgins.
- Kokomo (on Grassy Key). Artist: the Beach Boys.
- Margaritaville. Artist Jimmy Buffet.
- The Florida Keys Song. Artist Gerd Rube
© 2013 Patty Inglish