Skip to Content


Backbone of the Keys

A cache by istrum2 Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 2/26/2008
In Florida, United States
1.5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

Join now to view geocache location details. It's free!


How Geocaching Works

Cache Issues:

  • This cache is temporarily unavailable. Read the logs below to read the status for this cache.
Please note Use of services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

Geocache Description:

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is one of only two state geological sites in Florida. It offers a remarkable opportunity to view these fossil-filled quarries, learn area history, and walk trails that showcase the abundance of botanical life in the subtropical Florida Keys.

The park is located at Mile Marker 85.5. THE EDUCATION CENTER IS OPEN THURSDAY THRU MONDAY, (closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays), 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 $2.50 per person, but it’s well worth it 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 THURSDAY THRU MONDAY, (closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays), 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!


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.

  1. What is the method of researching the ring-like growth bands of corals and mollusks called?
  2. 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.
  3. Name some of the buildings made from Key Largo Limestone. Have you ever visited any?
  4. What machine was used to remove rock from the quarry?
  5. 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?
  6. Name two (2) types of coral whose fossilized remains can be seen in the quarry walls.
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 for proof that you were at the location.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)



362 Logged Visits

Found it 339     Didn't find it 2     Write note 19     Temporarily Disable Listing 1     Publish Listing 1     

View Logbook | View the Image Gallery of 357 images

**Warning! Spoilers may be included in the descriptions or links.

Current Time:
Last Updated: on 9/14/2017 9:42:40 AM Pacific Daylight Time (4:42 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

Return to the Top of the Page