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Friday, December 16, 2011

‘Railroad that Went to Sea’ Honored

A celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the completion of Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad is to culminate January 14 to 23, with Keyswide events marking the centennial of the first train’s journey from the Florida mainland through the island chain to Key West. 
When the inaugural train steamed through the Keys Jan. 22, 1912, it connected the previously isolated islands with each other and the mainland for the first time and ushered in a new era for travelers and residents. Stretching more than 100 miles out over open water, the Over-Sea Railroad was lauded as the world’s most unique rail line. 
Highlights of the centennial celebration include a themed community parade, a one-man performance by a re-enactor portraying railroad founder Henry Flagler, a “family fun” day at the former railroad workers’ camp on the tiny island of Pigeon Key, museum and memorabilia exhibitions, hobbyist train displays and a re-enactment at Bahia Honda State Park. 
History lovers can explore Pigeon Key, one of the Keys’ landmark railroad heritage sites, from 10am to 4pm Saturday, January 14, during a free-admission day of family fun. Nestled beneath the original Seven Mile Bridge in the Middle Keys, the 5-acre island features Flagler-era restored buildings and a unique railroad museum. The day’s other attractions include snorkeling, historic and contemporary foods, period games, live music and entertainment. 
Meanwhile, before the centennial kicks off, New Year’s Eve partiers tired of cold-weather festivities such as the traditional “ball drop” in New York’s Times Square can find exuberant celebrations and much warmer temperatures in the Florida Keys. 
For Over-Sea Railroad centennial information visit www.FlaglerKeys100.com . For Florida Keys visitor information visit  www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS (1-800-352-5397) 
For more information about top events in Florida take a look at the Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in Florida.