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Monday, April 7, 2014

Seven Mile Bridge, Moving, Amazing Musician Blunder, I'm in a novel!

.^listen to the"7 Mile Bridge" song as you read the blog!^


When the 7 Seven Mile Bridge was originally constructed spanning from Knight's Key in Marathon, to Little Duck Key over one hundred years ago, it was the longest bridge on earth. It was attributed the moniker “The Eighth Wonder of the World” at the time. When it was originally built, it was a railroad bridge, part of the Overseas Railroad, built by Henry Flagler who wanted the deep sea port in Key West, linked to the mainland.

(Pictures from the Monroe County Public Library)

The bridge was opened for business in 1912 as part of The Florida East Coast Railway and operated as such until a hurricane in 1935 wiped out a lower section of the railway in the Keys in Islamorada, rendering the railroad useless. The bridge system was sold to the state of Florida for $600K, then converted to be used for trucks and cars, making it The Overseas Highway.

The Overseas Highway was opened in 1938 and built on the existing railroad bridge bed and bridges. It was quite narrow and often was the case that trucks heading in opposite directions would lose their rear view mirrors to each other. It should be noted that the bridge system that runs from the mainland to Key West consists of forty two bridges and the Seven Mile Bridge is only one of those, albeit naturally, the most famous.

(State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Of course legends and stories abound about the old bridge and everyone who traveled on it, will never forget it for two reasons. One, it certainly got your attention when faced with oncoming traffic that passed mere inches to spare, door to door.  Two, the incredible view of the tropical Atlantic on your left as you traveled south and the Gulf of Mexico/Florida Bay on your right. One story that always caught my ear was that of the tender of the draw bridge. The legend goes that he had been the tender of the draw bridge for something like thirty years. It is said he had plans to retire and was actually relieved of duty the day before the old bridge was put out of commission. He however elected to work the final day of operation. The tender’s quarters was heated (when needed) with a propane heater. Somehow on that last day there was a fire in the tender’s quarters and the propane tank exploded, killing the tender and burning it to cinders on that last day of operation. I can’t say if the story is true or fiction, but it’s certainly a curious tale indeed!

(State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, 7 Mile Bridge’s Drawbridge. Picture from the Cory McDonald Collection)

In March of 1982 the new Seven Mile Bridge was opened. The replacement of all of the bridges was started earlier, with the first new bridge completed at Bahia Honda, replacing the old railroad structure.

The new Seven Mile Bridge is a modern highway, with more than ample room for vehicles to drive in opposite directions and even room for a break down vehicle to sit, if an ominous fate awaited a vehicle traversing the span.

 photo SevenMileBridg-_zps478a306f.jpg
(old and new Seven Mile Bridges)

The old bridge stayed in one piece, more or less. The center draw bridge was removed, as well as a couple of sections to prevent those with mischievous intent from going further, from either side, the north side being just after the bridge crosses over Pigeon Key.

Pigeon Key photo
( Seven Mile Bridge crossing Pigeon Key)

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, photo OverseasHighwayatnight_zps7c5ffddc.jpg

Over the years the bridge was just left to founder on its own. A few movie scenes have been shot here and Pigeon Key, I’m guessing about a mile out, is still active as a museum.
In 2006, a group of Cuban rafters, seeking asylum in the U.S. landed on the bridge. The U.S. law states that they have to land on U.S. soil, and did not recognize the Seven Mile Bridge as U.S. soil. Even though the bridge is listed as one of the   National Register of Historic Places  in the U.S.  they were sent back to Cuba.

Just after this happened, Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic, went down and declared the bridge sovereign Conch Republic territory, as it clearly was not recognized as U.S. territory. In addition, Sir Peter had come up with a plan to build affordable housing on the bridge! There are said to be plans for the houses as well!

Hpwever, the song that leads off this blog today, “The Seven Mile Bridge”, is about that incident. These days Sir Peter Anderson is afflicted with cancer and we all wish him the very best in his battle. He has brought much laughter, business, fun, and logic to these islands, for which we’re all very grateful for. Thank You Sir Peter!

 photo DSCN3070.jpg

I will also do a future blog on the entire bridge chain which allows all of us to “Island Hop”  over one hundred miles out to sea.


Well, after five years in the converted church apartment, it was time to move. The landlord was foreclosed on and the bank made a settlement with me, as a tenant, in order to leave, so they could free the property up for sale. This worked out well actually. With my girlfriend Dani moving in last December, the place would always be “my apartment”. Getting something new would be “ours”. It was one of these” gun to the head” situations. The agreement I signed with the bank stipulated that we would be out of the property “by March 30”. For those who live outside of the Keys, the month of March is a very difficult time to find a place to live, as it’s the height of the tourist season. For us, this was no exception.  Making a long story short, we found a place with only days to spare. Honestly, I had envisioned us having to rent a storage facility for our belongings and camping out in my conversion van until we found a place!
We had looked at places as far as 23 miles up the Keys, but ended up finding an ideal place right around the corner from where we lived. I would often joke “I live 90 miles and three blocks from Havana” being as I lived right up the street from the Southernmost Point. Well, now we live 90 miles and two blocks from Havana. HA HA!
Moving is always an ordeal and we’re glad it’s behind us, thrilled we’re still in the same neighborhood!
Someone upstairs is looking out for us! Thanks!

One of the benefits of moving! HA HA!


Several weeks ago I was playing a benefit at a bar where a lot of other performers were involved with as well. There was a group on before us and when they were done one of the members says into the microphone “Hey! We’re heading up the street to play at XYZ Bar! Come up and see us there”

Or in real terms “Hey! We’re playing at XYZ Bar next. Stop buying everything here, leave and take your business elsewhere!”

Remarkable really.


Glasgow, Scotland based author Jon Breakfield has just released his latest book, Key West part II. This of course follows Key West, his first, in what perhaps will become a series? We'll see! Jon also has three other books out, "Death in Glasgow", "Naked Europe", and "Liverpool.... Texas? London... Arkansas? A Short Story". In Key West part II You'll find me in the book! What a combination of a hoot and an honor! Thank you Jon!

I have no doubt that you'll find Jon's books quite entertaining! One amazing thing that all of Jon's characters in the book are real people! You never know, you may even be in it! Be sure to check this one out at Amazon!

And a link to all of Jon's books at Amazon:

 photo KeyWestpart2_zps07924e45.jpg

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

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