The Conch Train is a true rolling icon down every highway & byway in Key West… OK, that’s pushing it, 🙂 down every narrow street & alleyway! Anyone and everyone that has ever been to Key West has seen these sightseeing tour staples crisscrossing town with passengers in seat and cameras in hand. But do you have any idea where these tourist-carrying trains are serviced? I bet not, that all changes today.
Welcome to the Conch Tour Train Round House, a maintenance building for the insanely popular tourist trams. The first thing you’ll notice is the building type as row-after-row of doorways give way to train-after-train of visual eye-candy for kids and enthusiasts alike. The trains are sent there with passenger cars intact giving the building its standard depth. The facility works on, changes and maintains everything from flat tires, loose bolts, engine pings & sheet metal dings, to complete engine overhauls. On the outside of the building you can see several painted railroad crossing signs with the acronym CTTHTA upon them standing for Conch Tour Train Historic Tours of America.
You can find this out-of-the-way, off the beaten path unique attraction that most others will never ever see at 1802 Staples Avenue here in the tourist wonderland of Key West.
Well, not quite yet but coming soon! To say that this is a sore spot with the City of Key West would be grossly understating the ill feelings between the two.
Duck Tours is a generic term widely used to describe a vehicle used to take sightseers on a 3-part guided tour on land, splash down, & on water. Duck Tours is also a registered trademark of a company already doing such tours in Boston, Washington DC and other major cities as seen below.
Duck Tours has been here before and forced to cease operations in June 1996. They immediately filled a law suit against the Historic Tours of America (HTA) & the City of Key West. HTA is the company that runs the Conch Train & Old Town Trolley systems already in Key West that had a 30 year contract with the City of Key West locking out any other types of the same business… that’s called a monopoly in legal terms! In 2005 it finally went to court lasting 3-weeks ending in a staggering $13.5 million judgement for Duck Tours. It turns out that Key West was screwed by its own hometown lawyer who also represented HTA reaching a settlement with Duck Tours only 5-days prior to the trial leaving the City of Key West out of the agreement and having to fin for themselves which they LOST! That’s got to hurt, OUCH!
Once the Duck Tours do arrive back in Key West I’ll do a follow-up blog on their this time legal business. Until then, you can this Peter Pan Pirate Ship (former Duck Tour competitor) along with the human buoy in an odd-ball anything-goes type car lot on the right side of the road heading south of US-1 at Mile Marker 99.5 in Key Largo.