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 Post subject: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:39 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:28 am
Posts: 270
The Mrs. and I are planning a trip to Key West for sometime late next year. My goal is to fly to Miami and then drive the rest of the way to Key West. I have read 2 books on the construction of the Florida East Coast Railway Key West Extension and found them to be awesome! All the pictures of the bridges over key after key are just gorgeous works of art. One in particular is the Bahia Honda Channel Bridge.
If it were financially and economically feasible to do so AND if the area warranted a rebuild of it, how stable are those piers? I realize they were cast about 100 years ago or so and have been standing in salt water for almost that lenght of time as well, but could it be done? Could a revitialization of rail service return to Key West?


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:30 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 10971
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Hahahahahahaha............

You apparently have NO idea just how grandiose your dream is, and will have no such clue until you drive out there. Ever been to the Grand Canyon and seen how no photos can possibly do it justice? Same general idea.

I drove a couple keys out and back one time while stuck in Miami, and even that was enough to impress me with the sheer scale of the FEC Key West extension. (And BTW, if you have ever read the description of the drive in any of the books on the Key West extension, Don't believe all that tranquility and scenery--it's a 50-mile strip mall.)


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:50 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 6321
SteveRG wrote:
The Mrs. and I are planning a trip to Key West for sometime late next year. My goal is to fly to Miami and then drive the rest of the way to Key West. I have read 2 books on the construction of the Florida East Coast Railway Key West Extension and found them to be awesome! All the pictures of the bridges over key after key are just gorgeous works of art. One in particular is the Bahia Honda Channel Bridge.
If it were financially and economically feasible to do so AND if the area warranted a rebuild of it, how stable are those piers? I realize they were cast about 100 years ago or so and have been standing in salt water for almost that lenght of time as well, but could it be done? Could a revitialization of rail service return to Key West?


Steve -

Ignore the tourist spots and look at the Keys and surrounding waters. They are beautiful! On my two trips out there, I was most impressed. And of course, with the idea of the Florida East Coast's railroad all the way out to Key West. Could the railroad be rebuilt? No! But what COULD be done, is using one of the old viaducts as a tourist rail line pointing out the importance of the FEC to the opening up of the Keys. And with a number of FEC steamers still around, it would be an authentic recreation, and probably do extremely well attendance wise.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:15 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 1178
"But what COULD be done, is using one of the old viaducts as a tourist rail line pointing out the importance of the FEC to the opening up of the Keys. And with a number of FEC steamers still around, it would be an authentic recreation, and probably do extremely well attendance wise."

Until the first Category 4 hurricane. Why do you think the Key West Extension was abandoned in the first place? Let's focus our efforts and dollars on more realistic projects.


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 247
Location: Birmingham, AL
Some Overseas RR trivia...

The original FEC bridges have 2 interesting things...The pilings for the concrete piers are wood...can't remember the species. Flagler brought it from South America. As long as it stays submerged in salt water it will not rot and is immune to marine worms.

Also, may of the bridges were made with concrete that was mixed with salt water. (There is no natural source of fresh water anywhere on the keys unless you want to colllect rain water). As the bridges aged and air permiated into the concrete many parts of them began to corrode the rebar. The rebar expanded and broke the concrete.

The draw span on the 7 miles bridge was powered by a flathead Ford V8 engine.

The Bahia Honda Bridge and the park around it is really pretty.

Considering the deteriorated condition of the original bridges toda I doubt they could hold a train.

BTW - The sunsets are indescribable!

Be sure to visit the Gold Coast RR museum in Miami while you're there.

Bill
(Lived in that area for 30 Years)


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:57 am
Posts: 2559
Location: Faulkland, Delaware
Wow that is interesting information on the bridge. There is history everywhere if you know who to talk to and where to look.

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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:10 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:57 am
Posts: 2559
Location: Faulkland, Delaware
I did a little searching and found this... it appears that some of Flaglers original bridges will be a rails to highways to trails. Does anyone know more about this? The website seems to have limited information.

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/state/ke ... efault.htm

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Maybe it won't work out. But maybe seeing if it does will be the best adventure ever.


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:02 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:28 am
Posts: 270
For Mr. Beckman, Mr. HOD Bill and Mr. Gears...thank you for your informed responses. Mr. HOD Bill...that must have been something that I DIDN'T read about the piers being made of South American wood. You learn something everyday on here.
I printed the article and saved it for future reference Mr. Gears...thanks
And Mr. Beckman, I WILL ignore the tourist spots and the strip malls reference too! Thanks!!
I'd be on vacation and would want to have The Mrs. take as many pictures on the way down as can, stoping at the Park. Given that the entire stretch was built about 100 years ago, (aside from a money issue) whos to say that someone couldn't do it again...somewhere else?


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:43 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 247
Location: Birmingham, AL
Steve,
Several of the old bridges are open in parts to pedestrians as "fihing piers." I can't remember exactly which ones. Haven't been down there in many years. I think Bahia Honda is accesable from the north side at the state park. I think 7 Mile is accessable at both ends, but the draw span has been removed.

You may notice that the old highway guard rails on the old 7 Mile and Long Key Viaduct are made from the FEC rails.

Also, the overseas highway is built on the FEC ROW. Therfore all the curves are very gentle and the road is very straight between them.

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:55 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 914
The first part of the Journey through the Keys has two parallel sections of pavement. It was the intended highway along the keys in direct competition with FEC. It has a much rougher grade. The longer spans were intended to be crossed by ferry. After the hurricane, the DOT took over the FEC grade and used it.

I guess the handwriting was on the wall about abandonment. With no track left by an act of nature, it had already been abandoned?

I only visited there once, in 1969 (I was 13). We watched Apollo 11 launch and then drove to Key West. It was a very long drive, but it was then entirely on the old RR bridges including driving on the top of the 7-mile bridge (if I recall correctly) through truss bridge. By the time we got to the Orland area, on our return home, they set foot on the moon. I still recall the excitement and amazement of the engineering of the Key West extension (which I thought of as the frontiers of engineering in the early 1900's) and the new frontier of engineering for the space program. Little did I realize that in the future I would work in Mission Control Houston for two Space Shuttle flights and write a structural analysis program for designing and analyzing steel bridge structures! (I have a BS in both Electrical and Civil engineering).

One problem civil engineers had with not only the FEC Key West concrete but also the buildings made of concrete and rebar in the Miami Area was the use of salt water. I recall when I was in collage in the 1970's they showed photos of a collapsed building in Miami. The building collapse when a slight breeze had blown in off the Atlantic. You could see the rust marks where the rebar had been inside the concrete. As long as the concrete is in compression, it will hold, but concrete has almost no tensile strength. When the wind blew just right, the sea side of the building ended up with tension in the concrete and it collapsed.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:04 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2589
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
The state of Florida would NEVER let you do that. The state owns the remaining bridges, many of them aren't even used for rroad traffic anymore. My father retired after over 30 years working for the department of state lands in Tallahassee. He clued me in on the state's interests with those bridges. It will never, I say again, NEVER happen.

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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:32 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 247
Location: Birmingham, AL
Doug,
After the hurricane of '35 FEC had no intention of rebulding the line. I believe the railroad officially abondoned it when the state expressed interest in buying it for the highway. The highway was built over all the bridges by widening them with a "wrap around" deck. The one exception was the Bahia Honda bridge. That is the truss bridge you rode over. It was too narrow to build a road thruogh the bridge so they built the approach up with fill and built the roadbed on top of the truss bridge. I always got a kick out of driving over it. The Seven Mile Bridge did not have any trusses except for the draw span.

Regardless, the "Railroad that went to sea" was truly any amazing engineering feat.

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2590
Location: S.F. Bay Area
If you install and fire up Google Earth, you can easily trace the former line. The sat photos are annotated with hundreds of photographs taken by people on the ground.


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 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:19 pm 

http://www.pbpulse.com/arts-and-culture ... the-world/


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Flaglers Folly
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:34 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:00 am
Posts: 540
Location: Dallas ,Texas. USA
Quote:
Why do you think the Key West Extension was abandoned in the first place?


The conversion from coal to oil for ocean going ships is what killed the RR.

Then the hurricane drove the last nail, but the thing was on life support for years before that happened.

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Loco112 (NarrowGaugeExchange Forum)

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