Since the 1950s the Overseas Highway has been refurbished into a main coastal highway between the cities of Miami and Key West, offering travelers an exotic roadway through a tropical savanna environment and access to the largest area of coral reefs on the U.S. mainland. Many exotic animals such as the American AlligatorAmerican Crocodile and Key Deer inhabit the tropical islands of the Florida Keys


The Overseas Highway, sometimes called “the Highway that Goes to Sea,” is a modern wonder. It is the “magic carpet” by which visitors from Florida’s mainland can cross countless coral and limestone islets through that special world of the Florida Keys.


The highway — the southernmost leg of U.S. 1 — follows a trail originally blazed in 1912 when Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railroad from Miami to Key West. The railroad ceased operations on the Miami-Key West link in 1935, following extensive damage to the roadbed by severe winds and erosion and the economic decline caused by the Depression era.

Construction of the Overseas Highway was an incredible engineering feat. A total of 113 miles of roadway and 42 overseas bridges, leapfrogging form key to key in a series of giant arches of concrete and steel, were constructed. In 1982, 37 bridges were replaced with wider, heavier spans, including the well-known Seven Mile Bridge at Marathon.

The highway was begun in the late 1930s. Its foundation utilizes some of the original spans as well as the coral bedrock of individual keys and specially constructed columns. First completed in 1938, it marked the beginning of an equally incredible adventure for the ubiquitous North American motorist. The Florida Keys — which now host more than three million visitors annually — became an easily accessible tourist destination by car and bus.

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