06 October 2017
FLORIDA KEYS — Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, encompassing 300 acres on Windley Key at mile marker 84.9 near Islamorada, reopened Thursday, Oct. 5, for day use.
The park’s land was formed by fossilized coral known as Key Largo limestone. Until the 1960s, the park was a quarry used to produce Keystone, a decorative stone.
The land once was owned by the Florida East Coast Railroad, which used the stone in building railroad magnate Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad in the early 1900s.
Visitors can walk along 8-foot-high quarry walls to see cross sections of ancient coral and learn about the quarry’s role in Florida history during the 20th century.
The park features a welcome center, picnic tables, hiking trails and five short self-guided tours. It’s open Thursday through Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Windley Key is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“The Keys are home to some of the most beautiful and beloved parks in Florida’s award-winning state park system,” said Chuck Hatcher, assistant director, Florida State Parks. “We have deployed crews from around the state and hired contractors to ensure we are able to reopen all parks quickly.”
Also reopened on Sept. 22 is the San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park with a submerged shipwreck in 18 feet of water, located about 1.25 nautical miles south of Indian Key and off mile marker 78.5 in Islamorada.
Eight state parks throughout the 125-mile-long Florida Keys island chain remain closed after Hurricane Irma struck the Keys on Sept. 10.
Crews are actively working to reopen the parks, including the popular John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, famed as the first undersea park in the United States, located in Key Largo; and Key West’s 56-acre Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
For additional information about the Windley Key park, visit floridastateparks.org/park/Windley-Key or call 305-664-2540.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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