Five Amazing Facts About Key West!

By the Key West Historic Seaport

key west historic seaport logo

Key West is a very popular destination for folks from all over the world given its history, architecture, and unique island atmosphere. And when it comes to “conchs”—people born and raised in Key West—you won’t find a more fascinating group of people! Along those lines, in this blog post, you’ll learn five fascinating things about Key West from the Key West Historic Seaport!

key west sailboat with sunset in background

Key West’s Founding

Key West was founded on January 19, 1822. It was originally named “Thompson’s Island” after a man named John W. Simonton, who purchased the island and then divided it into plots and sold them to others. The name was later changed to Key West due to its location as the westernmost of the Florida Keys. You can view this history and learn more by taking a tour on the Conch Tour Train. Get your tickets today!

Conch Train Tours
Photo: Conch Tour Train

Dry Tortugas National Park

About 70 miles west of Key West lies the Dry Tortugas National Park, which is home to Fort Jefferson, an impressive coastal fortress built in the 19th century. The fort was originally constructed to protect vital shipping routes but later served as a military prison during the Civil War. Today, visitors can explore the fort’s history, wander through its expansive interior, and snorkel around the pristine waters to observe colorful marine life and shipwrecks. How to get there? That’s where The Yankee Freedom comes in! Board the Yankee Freedom ferry ride to the park. You can plan your trip and secure your tickets right here!

dry tortuga national park

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

Key West has a rich maritime history, and the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum is a testament to this fact. Named after famous treasure hunter Mel Fisher, this museum contains artifacts and treasures recovered from shipwrecks in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys.

Specifically, the museum’s main highlight is the “Atocha Treasure,” which includes gold, silver, precious gems, and other valuable artifacts salvaged from the wreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. This ship sank in 1622, and it took Mel Fisher and his team more than 15 years of dedicated searching to discover its location and bring its riches to the surface!

Visitors can learn about the fascinating history of these shipwrecks, the challenges of marine archaeology, and the efforts made to preserve these valuable historical treasures. It’s a unique opportunity to delve into the world of underwater exploration and experience the excitement of uncovering lost pieces of history from the depths of the ocean.

mel fisher maritime museum treasure


Vibrant and Diverse Marine Life

The warm waters surrounding the island make it an ideal location for various aquatic species. Additionally, the clear waters around Key West offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving. The coral reefs and underwater ecosystems are teeming with colorful fish, sea turtles, rays, and various other marine creatures. Exploring these underwater realms is a captivating experience, making Key West a haven for both anglers and underwater enthusiasts.

Wild Dolphin Adventures Background Image

Historical Significance and Maritime Heritage

With Key West being steeped in history and maritime heritage, we of course have to mention the Key West Historic Seaport! The seaport area dates back to the early days of Key West when the island was a strategic port for ships traveling to and from Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico. Over the years, it played a crucial role in the wrecking industry, where salvaging goods from shipwrecks was a major source of livelihood for the local community.

Today, while the seaport is home to modern boats, fishing charters, and various businesses, it has retained much of its historic charm. Visitors can explore the Key West Historic Seaport and learn about the island’s maritime history through guided tours, museums, and interpretive displays. This blend of history, culture, and modern maritime activities makes the Key West Historic Seaport a unique and captivating destination for both history enthusiasts and those seeking a glimpse into the past.

Historic Seaport By The Water 2021