Excerpt from A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich
A few miles farther I came to the Snake Creek Bridge. This was a bridge similar to one I would be crossing over many times the rest of the way to Key West. It was very narrow and when a car approached me, I had to step up onto the concrete ledge on the side and frantically hold on to the rail. Since the rail was low when I stood up on it, I once almost lost my balance towards the water. I was sure that it would be real difficult to swim with the pack I had on. For that reason I always loosened my hip belt and dropped my pack onto my shoulders when crossing a bridge. This kept my center of gravity low…
I was now on Small Windley Key, and before I knew it I was crossing another bridge and was on Upper Matecumbe Key. In about a mile I arrived in Islamorada. There along the road at mile marker 81.5 was the Florida Keys Memorial (Hurricane Monument). This was a memorial to the local civilians and WWI American veterans lost during the 1935 hurricane.
This hurricane was ferocious, the strongest hurricane ever on record to assault the United States. It came ashore on Labor Day, September 2, 1935 with 200+ mile per hour winds and a 12 to 20 foot surge. The storm devastated a large part of the upper and middle Keys with the worst destruction in the mile post 60 to 80 area.
The unemployed veterans had been sent there by the Government’s Works Progress Administration, WPA. Their job was a work project during the Great Depression to build the overseas highway and bridges. There were 600 or more men working in these particular camps, but many were on holiday at that time. This storm killed more than 400 people, wiped out buildings, ruined the land, and destroyed the Florida East Coast Railway in the Keys.
About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or Amazon.com