ISLAMORADA -- A learning center, highlighting the geological
evolution of the Florida Keys, opened here recently.
The Alison Fahrer
Environmental Education Center at the Windley Key Quarry Fossil
Reef State Geologic Site showcases the role of coral reefs in
fabricating the Florida Keys island chain during the last 100
The center, on state land, is funded with a $350,000 state grant
and provides interactive exhibits focusing on past and present
geological aspects of North America's only contiguous barrier coral
Windley Quarry and two adjacent quarries began to be mined in
the early 1900s when railroad magnate Henry Flagler was building
the Overseas Railroad.
Laborers chiseled out huge blocks of coral to serve as supports
for railroad bridges. In 1985, the state acquired the land for $3.2
"The quarry is unique in the world," according to Alison Fahrer,
former Keys commissioner. It's the only place anywhere that you can
stand inside a coral reef and see how it's built," she said.
Windley Key Fossil Reef State Geologic Site
Address: Mile Marker 85, Islamorada
Hours: Thursday through Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free to the center, but access to the quarries and
hammocks is priced at $1.50.