Indian Key Historic State Park is located in the Florida Keys on the ocean side of US 1 near mile marker 78.5. It is accessible only by boat and offers a remote and beautiful Florida state park adventure unlike no other. It contains the remnants of a once lucrative ghost town that was financed by salvaging ships that had wrecked on the dangerous reefs of the Florida Keys. Today, decrepit structures, several old roads and a dock are all that remain of this of this once prosperous town known as Indian Key.
In 1831, Jacob Housman bought Indian Key to build a competitive business with the highly profitable Florida Key wrecking and Salvage monopoly. Through his shady dealings and backwater handshakes, he built an empire that was extremely profitable on Indian Key.
As his business grew, Jacob Housman built and maintained a small town, complete with a warehouse, cisterns and wharves to further expand his holdings in the salvage industry. Because of his shrewd dealings with other salvagers he became known for his bad business dealings and continually feuded with the Key West salvagers.
To deal a heavy blow to his enemies, he petitioned the legislative council to make Indian Key as the county seat, making it the first in Dade County. Of course, it ran the Key West salvagers red with blood and fueled the eventual decline of Indian Key though a series of court battles which Jacob Housman soon found he had lost significant amounts of money and his salvaging license. In 1835, during the Second Seminole War, he lost his Indian trade and mortgaged the island to Dr. Henry Perrine.
Dr. Perrine was a botanist who wanted to use a government grant to cultivate tropical plants on the island for profit. Sisal, grown in nearby Mexico was used for ship rope. Before the advent nylon, it was the most commonly used rope and is still in use on many ships today. Many of the tropical plant decedents that the Dr. planted are still on the island today. The Dr. and several of its inhabitants were killed when Seminoles attacked the island for it well known store house of goods.
Today, the island is free to visit, but only by boat. The nearby marinas can provide boat rentals, with kayaks being the primary way to get to the island. While motorized boats can access the island, the shallow waters and coral reefs can easily wreck a boat. For more information on this amazing Florida state park, visit the website here.