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Florida's Great Ocean Railway Hardcover – January 1, 2003
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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About the Author
After seventeen years as a college professor, Dan Gallagher came to the Florida Keys in 1988 to become a professional boat captain, environmental guide, editor, and writer. The history of the Keys, particularly the Florida East Coast Railway, quickly became his main interest and the subject of his book Florida's Great Ocean Railway: Building the Key West Extension. He also wrote Pigeon Key and the Seven-Mile Bridge and Marathon: Heart of the Key West Extension, as well as several chapters of Florida Keys Environmental Story, for which he served as editor-in-chief. He also edited The Bridges Stand Tall and Islamorada and More, publications of the Pigeon Key Foundation. He has collected more than a thousand old photographs of the early Keys and the Key West Extension. Dan and his wife, Rita Irwin, live on Grassy Key.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpt of Chapter 2, Reshaping the Keys:
Much of this story is about moving earth and rock from one location to another. Excavators, dredges, mules, and the strong backs of many men shifted the shorelines of the Keys dramatically from 1905 to 1916. By the time the roadbed was completed, they had built nearly twenty-two miles of filled causeway and eighteen miles of bridges between the Keys. Henry M. Flagler called his project "landscape gardening." The ambitious project is even more awesome when you consider the primitive machines engineers designed and workers built to do the job. Most of these machines were powered by steam engines, but the engineers experimented with gasoline engines for some of their tools.
The F.E.C. kept detailed records of all of the rock, marl, sand, riprap, and ballast moved throughout the Keys. Each resident engineer filed a weekly report from each construction section describing the number of cubic yards of each type of fill as it was collected and moved to other sites. From these reports we are able to know how much earth was moved, when it was moved, and where it went. The total amount of material moved for the Extension project was recorded as 17,940,837 cubic yards. In todays terms, this is the equivalent of more than one million dump trucks! If all of this material were molded into a solid cube, it would be 785 feet wide, long, and tall. By comparison, the Washington Monument is 550 feet tall.
Dredges did much of the work, moving sand to build up the grade and marl to make a protective covering on the walls of the roadbeds and causeways. Excavators, both floating and land-based, scooped up chunks of rock and riprap at the roadbed site and in quarries. Together these tools moved 16.78 million cubic yards. The amount moved by hand for manual gradinga mere 1.16 million cubic yardsseems minuscule at only 6.47 percent of the earth moved, but in human terms this totaled a lot of tired backs and aching muscles.
The original roadbed was modified dramatically from the rudimentary line that coursed into Key West in 1912. In the years from 1912 to 1916, the right-of-way was widened and the roadbed elevated to safer heights and with better materials. At sites where concrete arch bridges replaced the original wooden trestles, workers imported much fill to bring the grade to the viaduct level.
At many sites along the roadway, there were not enough local materials of the right quality to build up the grade to the desired height. Thus the rock or sand or marl had to be quarried at one location and transported to where it was needed. Engineers found numerous sites for rock fill along the right-of-way and established quarries at Rockdale, Key Largo, Windleys Island, and Teakettle Rock Pit. Two quarries at Windleys Island produced most of the rock, and a station appropriately named Quarry was eventually established there. Some of the original quarries are still visible and open to visitors at the Windley Key Fossil Reef State Geological Site.
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I'll add one other point that's sometimes not mentioned in these reviews. This is rather a specialty book with a limited printing and as such, often these books suffer from a lack of proofreading and editing. Not so with this book. I found it to be of high quality in terms of grammar and without any noticeable errors in proofing.