Florida Keys Memorial (Hurricane Monument), Islamorada, Florida
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Rose Red
N 24° 55.093 W 080° 38.101
17R E 536854 N 2755941
Quick Description: Just beyond Cheeca, present U.S. 1 at mile marker 81.5, is a 65-foot-by-20-foot hurricane monument constructed of locally quarried limestone. It marks the mass grave of many killed in one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the Florida Keys.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 5/23/2007 4:37:58 PM
Waymark Code: WM1K1A
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member TravisGood
Views: 270

Long Description:


Just beyond Cheeca, present U.S. 1 at mile marker 81.5, is a 65-foot-by-20-foot hurricane monument constructed of locally quarried limestone which bears a striking art nouveau impression of wind-driven waves and palms bending before the storm's fury. It marks the mass grave of many that were killed in one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the Florida Keys.

A Category 5 hurricane hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day, September 2, 1935. As the large red-and-black hurricane warning flags went up along the Keys and his barometer indicated a serious drop in pressure, the foreman for hundreds of workers who were building a road from Lower Matecumbe to Grassy Key became alarmed. He telephoned the Oversea Railroad headquarters in Miami and pleaded for an evacuation train to be sent for them.

A 10-car train pulled by 160-ton Steam Locomotive No. 447 left Miami about 4:30 PM en route to Lower Matcumbe. A cable accident delayed the train for an hour at Snake Creek where winds were 150 mph. By the time the train reached Islamorada (pronounced EYE-la-ma-RAHD-a) the winds has reached 200 mph. Hundreds of people were on board when a 17 to 19-foot storm surge engulfed the train about 8:20 PM and tore it from the tracks except for the train's locomotive and its oil tender, saving the lives of the engineer and the fireman.

Over 420 people died. Many were workers and their families. Except for “old 447” and its oil tender, nothing remained standing except the angel that marked a grave in a tiny cemetery on the beach in Islamorada. Many of the dead were burned in funeral pyres overseen by the National Guard in the sunny days after the storm, while others were buried in a common crypt marked by the monument in Islamorada.

The memorial was designed by the Florida Division of the Federal Art Project and was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937 as Zone 3, Project Number 2217. It was dedicated November 14, 1937. The U.S. Department of Interior placed it on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1995.

Cultural Note: In the Bogart-Bacall hurricane film “Key Largo” the character played by Lionel Barrymore (actress Drew Barrymore’s great uncle) describes his experiences in the great 1935 hurricane.

Colored photo by Rose Red from a Miami/Key West trip. Black and White photos from State of Florida.

Instructions for logging waymark: A photograph is required of you (or your GPS receiver, if you are waymarking solo) and the hurricane monument.

Americana: Other

Significant Interest: Memorial

Milestone or Marker: Event Marker

Web Site Address: [Web Link]

Physical Address:
81000 Overseas Hwy
Islamorada, Florida USA
33036


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