A century ago...

Fishing the Florida Keys —This photo is undated but likely was taken in 1909 from a wharf somewhere along the western margin of the Key West Bight, now known as the Historic Key West Seaport. It shows extensive damage to the waterfront and watercraft in the wake of a severe hurricane. The storm of Oct. 11, 1909, might have been the cause. But the photo might also date from the hurricane of Oct. 17, 1910.

In any event, much of the maritime infrastructure of Key West was destroyed or damaged. And as this locale was the base from which most of the island’s sailing vessels (sloops and schooners) made trips to harvest sponges and fish, the economic impact must have been considerable.

Among the casualties pictured was the schooner Mount Vernon. It smashed up against the dock in the foreground. Small wonder, then, that even modern sailors are heedful of hurricane warnings.

Provided as a public service by the Key West Maritime Historical Society, in cooperation with the Monroe County Public Library. Additional details, and membership information, is available by calling Ed Little, society president, at (305) 296-9882.