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Historic Monroe County Public Library

Welcome to the Historic Monroe County Public Library, stop #5 on the Heritage Monument Trail presented by the Islamorada Chamber Of Commerce.

In the photo you can see all four of the notable aspects of the Historic Library: post, sign, plaque, & library . A plaque on the quarried stone sitting on the ground states much of the next paragraph written. The #5 marker on the posts signifies that this is the 5th stop on the numbered Heritage Monument Trail of Islamorada. The Monroe County Public Library sign sits only 10 feet or so from US-1 at Mile Marker 81.5. The original building is pictured sitting only 30 feet behind the road sign.

Helen Wadley Branch Library: The public library building was constructed originally by the Red Cross and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) three years after the “Great Hurricane” of 1935, to serve as a community hurricane shelter. Prior to that time no protective buildings existed in Islamorada; consequently, hundreds of veterans and local citizens died with little or no protection from high winds and water. The poured concrete and steel walls of the shelter are 18 inches thick at its base. Additionally it served as the local school, replacing the previous school destroyed by the storm. Later it functioned as a church and a U.S. Coast Guard facility before becoming a library in 1966. A library addition was built onto the rear of the original structure in 1983.

The library is one of many stops on the Heritage Monument Trail of Islamorada. You can find this tourists cache of city-packed information located throughout Islamorada at many of the locations detailed within the handout along with the Islamorada Welcome Center.

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Plantations Hammocks Preserve

Located directly beside a very popular city park is this little known overlooked preserve. If you want to be alone, this is your place! 🙂 Welcome to the Plantations Hammocks Preserve!

Most that know of this preserve have parked their cars in front of the rope boundary and cut through the preserve as a short cut to the 50 times larger Founders Park for a featured event. Yes it’s small, it makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of its bigger cousin. It will only take 10-15 minutes or so to walk the entire preserve passing its only bench and birdhouse along the way (seen below). Other than that, it’s just a quiet habitat that is bypassed by the masses just waiting for you to stop on by for a picnic or leisurely walk.

You can find the little known and even lesser seen preserve at Mile Marker 87.0 on US-1 bayside.


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Gazebo Without A View

From the first time I saw this gazebo I instantly knew there was something wrong. I had never seen a gazebo that didn’t have any sort of view. Hmmm, not strong enough…OK, this gazebo has absolutely NO VIEW AT ALL!

I looked up two dictionary definitions of ‘Gazebo’ and here’s what each defined it as:

1) A structure, as an open or latticework pavilion or summer-house, built on a site that provides an attractive view.

2) A small building, usually in a garden, intended for people to sit in and look out over a beautiful view.
As you can see by the photos below, the bench sits about 50 feet away from the gazebo with a view of the ocean. The gazebo on the other hand lacks its most important attribute… a view! How could the builders put the bench closet to the ocean leaving the gazebo surrounded on three sides by palmetto bushes, trees and shrubs. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the gazebos ONLY view is forward facing a desolate portion of US-1… what a blunder!
Oh well, if you’d like to find this ‘Wrong Place Gazebo’ I’ll be more than happy to oblige! This ‘Gazebo Without A View’ is located at Mile Marker 14.3 on US-1 oceanside exactly beside the Saddlebunch Keys sign.


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Patroling Key West By Water

Don’t think that Key West being an island has only a land-based patrol force! Seen here are two of the Key West Police boats used to keep Key West locals and those wild tourists in check while in paradise. The larger of the two is for open water (Atlantic Ocean & Gulf Of Mexico) while the smaller is used to monitor the many small canals & channels that dissect and lead into the islands interior.

You can find these Police Boats, when not in action, beside Key West’s boxing complex located at DeKalb Avenue sandwiched between the main entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor and the rear entrance to the Naval Air Station Truman Annex.


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Tallest Man In Key West… He Stands 8’11.1″ Tall

Welcome to the TALLEST man in Key West, I take that back… Welcome to the TALLEST man in the recorded HISTORY OF THE WORLD!

Robert Wadlow (Feb. 22, 1918 – July 15, 1940) was the tallest person in history for whom there’s irrefutable evidence. Wadlow is sometimes known as the Alton Giant or Giant of Illinois being from Alton, Illinois. (Photo below)

Wadlow reached 8 ft 11.1 in height and weighed 439 lbs at his death at age 22. His great size and his continued growth in adulthood was due to hypertrophy of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. He showed no indication of an end to his growth even at the time of his death.

On July 4, 1940, during an appearance at the Manistee National Forest Festival, a faulty brace irritated his ankle, causing a blister and subsequent infection. Doctors treated him with a blood transfusion and emergency surgery, but his condition worsened, and on July 15, 1940, he died in his sleep at age 22.

More than 30,000 people attended Wadlow’s funeral on July 19. He was buried in a 10-foot-long, half-ton coffin that required twelve pallbearers to carry and was interred in a vault of solid concrete. Wadlow’s family was concerned for the sanctity of his body and wanted to ensure it would not be disturbed or stolen.

You can find a life-like statue of this gentle giant at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! in Key West located at 108 Duval Street.

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I’ve Found The Missing Aviator Bust!

For half a century this bust sat in front of the Key West airport greeting its cloud-bound patrons. So who is it, what did it commend and where is it now? Inquiring minds what to know, so I set out on a quest in pursuit of answers.

I’ve been to the Key West International airport many times never setting sight on this statue. In seeing this historical photo I went back out to the airport to see it myself wondering how in the world I could have missed it. On my third attempt in finding this, we parked the car and walked all around the new parking garage that now sits in front of the airport approximately where the statue should have been to no avail. We then asked a security guard if he knew anything about the missing bust… pausing a moment he responded “There’s some busts up in the departure terminal.” Off we went and sure enough we found it. It had been moved years ago and brought inside for outgoing passenger to see before leaving Key West.

7083399155_a0bf8e8760_bUpon the bronze plaque it reads: “The county of Monroe, state of Florida renders this tribute to Agustín Parlá Orduña born in Key West on October 11, 1887, of Cuban parents exiled during their country’s struggle for independence. Who was the first man to fly the 119 miles over the sea from Key West, Florida to El Mariel, Cuba on May 19, 1913. Honor to his memory.” Dedicated way back in July 4, 1957.

It may have taken me 3 trips to find the missing bust, you on the other hand now have first hand knowledge on exactly where to find it… what are you waiting for… GO! 🙂

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Islamorada’s Relaxing Sunset Island

Relax, Relax, Relax… that’s what you’ll be doing at Islamorada’s Sunset Island. OK, so it’s not officially an island being connected by a narrow strip of land even though its set up and looks like one. Believe me, no one cares about the definition of “island” once here, you’re irresistibly drawn to the incredible atmosphere and unbelievable views!

While here be prepared to bring your camera, party attitude, a smile, & koozie for an adult beverage or two (or three). 🙂 They have a live band and the festivities begin getting into full swing as customers arrive for the daily ritual of pastel painted sunsets.

You can find the Islamorada Fish Company’s Relaxing Sunset Island by traveling on US-1 to Mile Marker 81.4 bayside. While here, go next door to the Worldwide Sportsman store where you’ll see the Key’s LARGEST FISH TANK on display also for the amazing price of FREE.

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