Its naming spawns two possible theories, the first being named for the Joewood tree, a native species which is also known as cudjoewood. A more likely story for the name is offered by writer John Viele of nearby Summerland Key. He believes that Cudjoe, a very common West African name, was the name of a fugitive slave who lived on the island prior to 1849. Contrary to urban legend, it’s NOT named for the 1983 Stephen King horror movie Cujo, though I think the dog actor did live there! 🙂
Cudjoe Key’s claim to fame believe it or not is for its BLIMPS, that’s right, I said blimps. The United States Army activated Cudjoe Key in 1959 to track missiles traveling through the Eglin Gulf Test Range. Currently operated by the US Air Force, the station flies a white radar aerostat blimp known locally as “Fat Albert”, which they say is used for drug interdiction missions by the DEA.
There, on your next trip to Key West in passing Cudjoe Key you’ll be a bit wiser in Florida Keys history. Pass along which ever naming theory you think is right to your passengers making you the newly well-informed traveler!
The actual sign ‘Cudjoe Drive’ is at Mile Marker 23.0 oceanside turning onto Spanish Main Drive where it will be the first street on your right.