October 18, 2011 through January 8, 2012
Free with Museum admission
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Over-Sea Railroad, the Museum's fall exhibition illustrates the amazing story of the construction of the railroad to Key West. Built between 1905 and 1912, the Over-Sea Railroad was the most ambitious engineering feat ever undertaken by a private citizen and the final link connecting Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad from Jacksonville to Key West. It was hailed as "the Eighth Wonder of the World." First Train to Paradise recounts the stories of the dedicated workers who risked their lives, and sometimes lost them, to make Flagler's vision a reality.
Years before Flagler began to develop Palm Beach, he recognized the potential commercial importance of the deep water port at Key West, and set his sights on linking the islands of the Keys by rail. Skeptics who doubted it could be done dubbed the project "Flagler's Folly," but Flagler and his employees pressed forward with the seemingly impossible undertaking despite five hurricanes, extreme heat, mosquitoes, and disease. The project eventually extended the railroad 156 miles from Miami to Key West, much of it over water. Despite extreme adversity and enormous personal expense, the dream was finally realized on January 22, 1912, when thousands of Floridians welcomed Henry Flagler's arrival aboard the first train to Key West.
The exhibition is curated by the Flagler Museum, the largest repository of documents related to the Over-Sea Railroad.