Ponce de Leon's found the Florida Keys while on an expedition in 1513. On this trip the Spanish did not find any gold, nor was there any fresh water, but what they did find was a large amount of bugs. They mapped and named the Keys primarily as an aid to their ships. They used the Florida Straights to get from the New World back the Old.
The first settlement was at Key West but it wasn't until 1882. This was more than two decades before Florida became an official state. All the other Keys stayed unsettled until around 1874. It was during this year that the government surveyed them and then plotted land for homes and businesses. Although at this time the homes were still primal. The materials used to build these houses were taken from the local beaches and most of the wood was from shipwrecks that have washed up on shore.
The biggest settlers of the Florida Keys were the mosquitoes. The mosquito has been called the king of the Keys. Over the years the residents of the Keys tried many things to get rid of the mosquitoes. The most common thing used to kill these pests were bags filled with woodchips that had been soaked in engine oil and then hung over the water holes during the night in an attempt to kill the mosquito larvae.
In 1912 Henry Flagler built a railroad through the Florida Keys to Key West. This helped to greatly increase the human settlement of the Florida Keys. The railroad was destroyed however in 1935 due to a hurricane. In 1938 the longest over-water road in the world was built. This includes 42 bridges. This opened up the Florida Keys to the growing tourist trade.
Today in the Florida Keys, there are roughly about 40,000 residents and thousands and thousands of visitors that come to fish and swim and sail. Tourists love to come to the Keys to dive in the crystal waters off the tropical reef. Other tourists come to relax in the sun.
About the Author
James Hunt has spent 15 years as a professional writer and researcher covering stories that cover a whole spectrum of interest. Read more at www.best-of-florida-keys.info