Knockmedown Key - Key West



Knockmedown Key

Knockmedown Key in the Lower Keys is located 24° 42.9' N and 81° 28.7' W, north of Summerland Key and northeast of Cudjoe Key and is not accessible by road.

A tidal station managed by NOAA is located on the island. Access to the island is by boat only, with the closest public ramp located at the north end of Blimp Road on Cudjoe Key.

It has a land area of approximately 688 acres. The island has significant mangrove growth and is populated by Key deer and is considered one of the finest locations in the Florida Keys for sea kayaking.


Sugarloaf Key

Sugarloaf Key in the Lower Keys is located on US Hwy. 1 at mile marker 20.5. It is a single island in the lower Florida Keys that forms a loop on the Atlantic Ocean side giving the illusion of separate islands. Although frequently referred to simply and with technical accuracy as "Sugarloaf Key", this island contains two distinct island communities, known as Lower Sugarloaf Key and Upper Sugarloaf Key. The island is somewhat "U"-shaped, with Upper Sugarloaf Sound and Park Key separating the island into Upper Sugarloaf Key and Lower Sugarloaf Key. So called, upper and lower, simply referencing the relative nature of their geographic positions, not as distinct islands.

Lower Sugarloaf Key has family owned Sugarloaf Lodge and restaurant, an airport, Sugarloaf Volunteer Fire Station, and Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower.

Upper Sugarloaf Key has two public schools, a church, restaurant, commercial offices, public campground and the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge.

Sugarloaf Key is already part of the Overseas Highway and will soon join other islands of the Florida Keys as part of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail connecting mainland Florida to Key West via bicycle path(s).


Key West

Key West in the Lower Keys is located at the end of US Hwy. 1 and represents the southernmost portion of the United States.

Key West was relatively isolated until 1912, when it was connected to the Florida mainland via the Overseas Railway extension of Henry M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). Flagler created a landfill at Trumbo Point for his railyards. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed much of the railroad and killed hundreds of residents, including around 400 World War I veterans who were living in camps and working on federal road and mosquito control projects.

The U.S. government then rebuilt the rail route as a highway, completed in 1938, which became an extension of United States Highway 1. The portion of U.S. 1 through the Keys is called the Overseas Highway. Franklin Roosevelt toured the road in 1939.

Numerous artists and writers have passed through Key West, but the two most associated with the island are Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms while living above the showroom of a Key West Ford dealership at 314 Simonton Street.

Hardware store owner Charles Thompson introduced him to deep-sea fishing. Among the group who went fishing was Joe Russell (also known as Sloppy Joe). Russell was reportedly the model for Freddy in “To Have and Have Not”. Portions of the original manuscript were found at Sloppy Joe's Bar after his death. The group had nicknames for each other, and Hemingway wound up with "Papa".

The six- or seven-toed polydactyl cats descended from Hemingway's original pet 'Snowball' still live on the grounds and are cared for at the Hemingway House, despite complaints by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they are not kept free from visitor contact, and the Key West City Commission exempted the house from a law prohibiting more than four domestic animals per household.

Tennessee Williams first became a regular visitor to Key West in 1941 and is said to have written the first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire while staying in 1947 at the La Concha Hotel. He bought a permanent house in 1949 and listed Key West as his primary residence until his death in 1983.

Williams had a series of rented homes all over the U.S., but the only home he owned was in Key West.

Key West is closer to Havana (106 miles) than it is to Miami (127 miles, farther by boat).

In 1890, Key West had a population of nearly 18,800 and was the biggest and richest city in Florida. Half the residents were said to be of Cuban origin, and Key West regularly had Cuban mayors.

The Battleship USS Maine (ACR-1) sailed from Key West on its fateful visit to Havana, where it exploded, igniting the Spanish-American War. Crewmen from the ship are buried in Key West, and the Navy investigation into the blast occurred at the Key West Customs House.

Key West was always an important military post, since it sits at the northern edge of the deepwater channel connecting the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico (the southern edge 90 miles away is Cuba) via the Florida Straits. Because of this, Key West since the 1820s had been dubbed the "Gibraltar of the West." Fort Taylor was initially built on the island. The Navy added a small base from which the USS Maine (ACR-1) sailed to its demise in Havana.

The first cruise ship was the Sunward in 1969, which docked at the Navy's pier in the Truman Annex or the privately owned Pier B. The Navy's pier is called the Navy Mole.

In 1984 the city opened a pier right on Mallory Square. The decision was met with considerable opposition from people who felt it would disrupt the tradition of watching the sunset at Mallory Square. Cruise ships now dock at all three piers.

Many visitors rent a bicycle and explore the history and architecture of Old Town Key West. Walking tours, including a tour of the unusual Key West Cemetery, are available. The Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is a daily spectacle for visitors and residents. Boat excursions and tours provide a great way to view Key West from the water.

The Duval Street bar and restaurant district includes many different entertainment options, all within walking distance of each other.

The Key West Botanical Forest and Garden is an excellent, frost-free arboretum and botanical garden containing a number of "champion tree" specimens.

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden is a one-acre garden resembling a lush, predominantly green rainforest. It is an exhibit of nature's artistry in a woodland garden.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory features a 5,000-square-foot glass-domed tropical butterfly habitat.

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum showcases gold, silver, and treasure recovered from shipwrecks around the world.

The Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum preserves the history of the Key West Lighthouse, built in 1847.

Nobel Prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway's former home is now open to the public as the Ernest Hemingway House, and is populated by as many as 60 descendants of his famous polydactyl cats.

In 1979 the Key West Tourist Development Association, Inc., started Fantasy Fest to attract tourists at the traditionally slow time of Halloween, which is at the end of the hurricane season. Fantasy Fest regularly attracts approximately 80,000 people to the island and has become a huge success.