Sunday, February 13, 2011
Henry Flagler, what a guy!
One person can really make a difference in their lifetime. Henry Flagler was responsible for much of the development of Eastern and Southern Florida and the construction of the railroad from Miami to Key West. He also developed considerable numbers of hotels as well as Florida East Coast railroads. He is known as the father of Miami and developed Palm Beach as well. Henry was a partner of John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil. Before this successful venture, he failed at the salt business in Saginaw, MI. (Don't give up!)
Henry wanted to take advantage of trade with Cuba and Panama and Key West was quite developed at the time due to shipwreck salvaging. Over 30 years he spent $50 million dollars of his own funds developing the railroad to Key West. He said he knew no one else could afford to do it, so he felt that was his undertaking. After his death, his family sold the railroad to the State for around $200,000.
Most of the construction was planned and staged on Pigeon Key which is located next to Vaca Key, where Marathon is located. Jim and I rode with a group over to Pigeon Key and listened to a lecture on Henry Flagler and the railroad. Beautiful island and interesting story!
The railroad was completed 1912 and reconstructed in 1935 for automobile use.