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What was Flagler's Folly?

1962-024-216

In extending his F.E.C. Railway down to Key West, Henry Flagler was convinced that that port would become a major focus of transoceanic commerce to be opened up by the forthcoming Panama Canal which was, in fact, completed in 1914. Key West did not, however, attract the trade which Flagler had anticipated, and his enormously expensive "overseas" railroad thereto was never a financial success. Running from 1912 until 1935, it was also ill fated due to an engineering weakness which rendered the railway vulnerable to the devastating hurricane of 1935. Largely to please the aging Flagler by completing the project ahead of schedule, the highly regarded engineering firm in charge of the monumental task of construction decided to build the railroad's roadbed on natural and man-made sand dunes, instead of pilings. Although lasting 23 years, the sand roadbed was finally washed away by the pounding surf generated by the fury of the Labor Day Hurricane (September 2nd, 1935).

Answer: The extension of the Florida East Coast Railway from Miami to Key West.

Posted at 06:00 AM on January 13, 2014 | Permalink

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