Pigeon Key Florida is a tiny island with a big history. All five acres of this small island in the Lower Keys are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the nineteenth century, Florida and the keys in particular were hard to access until the railroad came and opened up the Sunshine State.
You may not expect to hear about the railroad when talking about small islands, but Pigeon Key and the railroad share a story. At the time Henry M. Flagler was building railroads and opening up the area, the small island was preparing to take on an important role as the end of the line. While the railroads were being built in the Florida Keys, Flagler's workers used the island as a staging area and home base. The final portion of the Key West extension of the railway, the Old Seven-Mile Bridge, was considered a marvel of engineering. Like the island, the bridge is honored with membership on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pigeon Key Florida is nestled under this wooden bridge. Today, the old bridge is no longer used for railroad traffic; instead it's a favorite place for hiking, biking, and strolling. The island and Marathon Key are located 2.2 miles apart, a distance that is easy for many people to walk, but there's always the ferry for those who want to arrive on Pigeon Key without a workout first.
Visitors need to pay admission to visit the island at the Pigeon Key Visitor Center, which is overseen by the Pigeon Key Foundation. All admission proceeds go toward preservation and the upkeep of this ghost town of sorts. The fee also includes guided history tours, as well as the opportunity to visit the historic buildings and learn about the local marine life. Discounts are available for students, and young children are admitted free of charge.
The Pigeon Key Visitor Center is not actually found on the island. Instead, it's located on the other side of the bridge on Knight's Key, at mile marker 47. This island is a part of the city of Marathon, found right in the heart of the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys. Marathon Key has an array of attractions, including eco tours, art galleries, dolphin swims, and bed and breakfast inns.
Once visitors have taken the time to explore the exhibits that talk about the railroad history and the ecology of the Key, they can take time to do some souvenir shopping at the Pigeon Key Visitor Center. Afterward they can walk over the bridge or hop on the ferry boat for a ride to the historic island. On the guided history tour, they'll hear all about the workers who finished the railroad. Many of these buildings that are still standing were built in 1909 and housed more than 400 workers.
Pigeon Key Florida also serves as a marine life science center. Guided tours, special events, and chances to go snorkeling reveal the wonderful world of life beneath the surface of the water. Because it's been so long since any people have lived on the island, Pigeon Key has become a natural haven and a wildlife habitat.