Permanent Exhibition at the Custom House Museum
They said it couldn’t be done – an overseas train to Key West. Take a journey on the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension. Henry Flagler, the Standard Oil tycoon, spent over $30 million of his own money to build a railroad joining mainland Florida to Key West.
While the tracks are forever gone, taken out by the most powerful hurricane to strike the United States, the rest became the right of way for the present-day Overseas Highway. Flagler’s Speedway to Sunshine exhibition features the amazing stories behind this great American engineering feat.
Through a mix of artifacts, film, and quotes from railroad workers and Key West townspeople, visitors learn how Flagler’s civil engineers invented new technologies to meet construction demands. More than 4,000 construction workers labored under conditions unfathomable by today’s standards. Pictures and stories of Flagler’s arrival at the Key West station on January 22, 1912, illustrate the revolutionary moment that changed the Florida Keys.
The Society’s collection, along with objects from the Bramson Collection, reinforce and challenge our understanding of how this hundred-year-old engineering marvel continues to impact the region.