The park is located at Mile Marker 85.5. THE EDUCATION CENTER IS OPEN ONLY ON FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PLEASE NOTE THOSE HOURS OF OPERATION. You WILL need info located inside the Education Center. Per park supervisor's orders, DO NOT TRY TO GET INTO THE EDUCATION CENTER off hours, even if a ranger is present. Failure to comply will result in the archiving of this EarthCache.
Key Largo Limestone is the backbone of the entire chain of Florida Keys and is formed of fossilized coral reef material created about 125,000 years ago during the Sangamon interglacial period. The Pamlico sea level rose and fell, from approximately 25 feet higher than present day to 300 feet lower, stabilizing about 25,000 years later. The crest that remained exposed became the islands comprising the Keys.
Windley Key, formerly known as Umbrella Key, is the highest in this chain of islands. Homesteaders lived on Umbrella Key from the mid-1800’s until 1908, when the land was sold to the Florida East Coast Railway. Quarries of the abundant Key Largo Limestone, called “Keystone,” supplied thousands of tons of fill for the bridge approaches and railbed of the Overseas Railroad until its completion in 1912. After that, polished Keystone was shipped to the mainland for use as decorative building material. Many public buildings throughout the country showcase Key Largo Limestone beauty.
Those clean cuts of the quarry machinery, active into the 1960’s, reveal a geological treasure – eight-foot high quarry walls containing perfectly preserved fossilized specimens of those ancient coral animals that formed the ground on which you stand.
The Environmental Education Center is handicap accessible; if special assistance is needed, arrangements can be made to tour the quarry. Admission is free, but it’s well worth the $2.50 to borrow a trail guide and explore one or more of the five self-guided, short walks through the quarries and hammocks. Most trails have exposed roots; some have cactus and poisonwood trees. As with all walks through fragile ecosystems, stay on designated trails, and since this is southern Florida, bring mosquito repellant.
As a reminder -- THE EDUCATION CENTER IS OPEN ONLY ON FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some of the info you need for the following questions is located INSIDE the Education Center!
TO GET CREDIT FOR THIS FIND:
Post a picture of yourself (not your dog or your kids!) and your GPS in front of that wonderful vertical timeline outside the Education Center.
Also email me your answers to the following questions, but please, DON'T HAVE THE RANGER DO YOUR WORK FOR YOU. Do your own research. This is an EarthCache; take time to learn something in this lovely park.
Post the picture and email me your answers AT THE TIME YOU LOG your find. EarthCaches are educational by definition, that's why the questions. A photo is required by EarthCache as proof that you were at the location.
- What is the method of researching the ring-like growth bands of corals and mollusks called?
- The rare, endangered White Crowned Pigeon may be found in this area. Name at least two (2) plants found in the park that are eaten by this bird.
- Name some of the buildings made from Key Largo Limestone. Have you ever visited any?
- What machine was used to remove rock from the quarry?
- There is an “island” in one of the quarries, comprised of rock considered too porous and of poor quality for use as building material. In which quarry is this “island” found?
- Name two (2) types of coral whose fossilized remains can be seen in the quarry walls.