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I Bought Key West for $250

Key West Purchased for $250

I bought Key West for $250 and have the check to prove it… but who am I? We’ve all heard of the land deals of historical proportion as in the Louisiana Purchase from France, Alaska from Russia but never have you heard about Key West from the Spanish! So here’s your history lesson for the day, and here we go:  John W. Simonton purchased the island on January 19, 1822 from Juan Pablo Salas, who had acquired it as a Spanish Land Grant in 1815. John Simonton soon took on three northern partners: John Whitehead, John Fleeming and Pardon Greene. On the scene arrived General John Geddes of Charleston who had also purchased Key West. It was discovered that Juan Pablo Salas had sold the island twice!  In summary, Salas sold it twice, once to Geddes and once to Simonton who had already divided it up amongst his Three Amigos: Whitehead, Fleeming and Greene. On May 23, 1828, Congress ruled Simonton as the legal owner. We might surmise that this was Florida’s first land scam. And now you know the rest of the story! What a deal it was for $250 to purchase the entire island of Key West! Think about it, at today’s prices… ok, before the recession, that’s probably what it would cost for a single 1 square inch! The check pictured can be found in the East Martello Tower Museum on the northeastern part of the island. Parking is FREE but they do charge a $5 or $6 admission.

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Memorial Day History, How It Began

Happy Memorial Day from the entire gang at ‘365 Things To Do In The Florida Keys’… OK, the TWO of us! :-)

This is an Educational EXTRA! :-) Please pay respect to those who’ve giving us our freedom that we as Americans are so proud of.

Here’s how the tradition started: Memorial Day began with families wanting to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. Over the years it’s evolved in observing all American soldiers of all wars. First called Decoration Day — so named because families decorated graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The idea came from Henry Welles, a druggist in Waterloo, New York. The holiday’s name was changed to Memorial Day in 1882. Nearly a century later in 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared the day a federal holiday. And now you know the rest of the story! :-) 

 

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Sponge Bob No Pants

Sponge Bob No Pants

Everyone’s heard of Sponge Bob Square Pants, but I bet you’ve never seen his long-lost cousin from Memphis… Sponge Bob No Pants! There are in fact two of these creature features in Key West, the one pictured here at the largest gift shop at Mallory Square and the other at one at the Turtle Kraals area of town on Harbor Walk.

Kids galore flock to get their photos taken with this life-size behemoth of glued together sponges while smiling big & wide as if it were Sponge Bob Square Pants himself!

To get here just follow the crowds, Mallory Square is the #1 tourist trap area of town besides Duval Street. Go to the northwest end of Duval and turn south 2 blocks and you’ll run right into him… I mean Mallory Square. Go ahead, I’ll turn my head while you pose with him, It’s for big kids too! :-)

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Jewfish Creek Bridge Historical Marker

Welcome to the historic Jewfish Creek Bridge! This is an important yet overlooked and forgotten part of the Florida Keys history being the FIRST major bridge you’ll reach in making your way down to Key West.

Over all the years there’s been three very different yet unique types of bridges spanning this waterway. The first was called a Swingspan bridge in 1907 to 1944 which I crossed countless times as a child with my parents in our family station wagon like Chevy Chase in the movie Vacation. The second called a Bascule bridge (draw bridge) was in service from 1944-2008 which I got stopped at many times as a child and adult. The  current bridge was completed in 2008 and was built to last throughout mine and your lifetimes! Oh yeah, it’s more commonly known as the 18-Mile Stretch Bridge rather than Jewfish Creek Bridge.

You too can see this hard to find Jewfish Creek Bridge historical marker located under the bridge just in front of the Blackwater Siren restaurant. Go to Mile Marker 108.1 bayside and take the access road in the middle of the 18-mile stretch bridge and follow the road to its end.

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Quiet… No Wake

IMG_2225You know, I’m not quite sure this is exactly what the sign was aiming for! :-)

Somethings just hit me instantaneously when looking around and this was one of them! During an oceanfront picnic out of the corner of my eye I spotted the sign that spurred the creative (OK, silly) photo at hand.

You can find this ‘Slow No Wake’ sign just past the Stock Island Marina Village. Go to Mile Marker 5.0 oceanside turning at Burger King onto 5th Street, down 5 blocks taking a left on 5th Avenue, down 1 block to Shrimp Road and turn right. Once on Shrimp Road drive down a half mile down on your left just past the Stock Island Marina Village and keep driving till the map turns blue.

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Key West’s Botanical Garden

Here’s one for all of you nature lovers! Filled with wood-planked walked ways, worn underbrush nature trails and paved main roads, this large-acreage Botanical Garden is worth your time seeking out.

There’s so much more here than a botanical flower garden as the sign states: ‘Tropical Forest & Garden’. Your journey around the grounds will obviously include beautiful flowers along with dense underbrush, majestic palm trees, & natural lake. Around the lake be sure to find strategically placed subtle art exhibits like a sculpted gator on the lakes shore and mermaid upon the adjacent rocks.

Though normally incurring an entrance fee, we arrived on the FREE ‘Butterfly Release Day’ when the place was bristling with nature patrons wanting to see the star attraction multi-colored butterflies.

You can find this enjoyable leisure atmosphere at the Key West Botanical Garden on College Road by turning off of US-1 bayside at Mile Marker 4.3 just before crossing the bridge onto the main island of Key West. It will be right there on your right!

         

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Stations Of The Cross

Welcome to St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Stations Of The Cross Gardens! An absolutely beautiful place to escape the hustle and bustle of even a leisurely town as Key West. Stations Of The Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours of Jesus, and the devotion commemoration the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It’s commonly observed during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday during the Easter Holidays.

You can find these peaceful surroundings in a garden atmosphere while enjoying the Stations Of The Cross mosaics at the St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church Gardens located behind their activity building at the corner of Truman Avenue & Windsor Lane. It’s absolutely FREE.

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