BIG PINE KEY, Florida Keys — Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride the first train to Key West? Step back in time to the early 1900s as Mr. Henry Flagler and other travelers share their unique experiences on the railroad. A special historic re-enactment commemorating the centennial anniversary of the completion of Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad is to be staged at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at Bahia Honda State Park, mile marker 36.8, in the Lower Keys.
The re-enactment is to take park visitors on a trip through time from 1912, on the Over-Sea Railroad’s inaugural journey, through 1938 when the Florida Keys Overseas Highway replaced the track.
Construction on the rail line, which was conceived by Standard Oil millionaire Henry Flagler, started in 1905. It was officially called the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, but became known as the Over-Sea Railroad because its track stretched more than 100 miles out into open water.
Its bridges and viaducts connecting the Keys, including a nearly 7-mile-long bridge at Marathon in the Middle Keys, were regarded as an engineering marvel in their time.
Bahia Honda State Park’s historic re-enactment is presented on a stage decorated like Flagler’s private train car, the Rambler. A portion of one of the original railroad bridges arches against the sky behind the stage.
Characters that appear in the performance include Henry Flagler’s third wife Mary Lily Kenan, Ernest Hemingway, Flagler’s brother-in-law Will Kenan and Flagler himself.
Re-enactment shows are staged monthly from December through March at Bahia Honda State Park’s railcar stage, one of many first-person interpretation programs presented by the park’s rangers.
Performances are free with general park admission and guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Meet at the railway car “stage” inside the park, just past the Sand & Sea Center. Show begins at 11 a.m.
Park and show information: www.floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda or 305-872-9807
Over-Sea Railroad centennial information: www.FlaglerKeys100.com
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