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The Keys and Key West

1 rating: 3.0

Key West, the southern-most city in the continental United States, lies near the end of the island chain, about 90 miles north of Cuba. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to this lovely chain of islands stretching for a hundred miles … see full wiki

Tags: Destinations
1 review about The Keys and Key West


  • Jun 28, 2004
  • by
Pros: A place for ALL ages to visit, interesting history

Cons: you might have to sleep with the lights on!

The Bottom Line: One of the USA's most haunted places. Check it out.... If you dare!

This article was written for a magazine on commission. It is supposed to be geared to Spring Breakers, but it has a different slant to it. Therefore, I didn't think it was appropriate to stick in the Education section. I KNOW that it doesn't cover every aspect of Key West. However, I do think that it gives some insight to different places you can go and different things you can do when visiting there. Comments are much appreciated!

Southern Florida has long been a vacation destination for people of all ages. Who can resist the laid-back lifestyle, fresh seafood, rich history and simple relaxation? Located 150 miles south of Miami and just 90 miles north of Havana, Key West is one of the best tourist destinations in the United States. Upon first look, Key West appears to be the perfect picture of paradise.

Looks can be deceiving. Every little town has their little secret. Key West is no different. This little town (Key West is a mere 2 miles by 4 miles), however, isn’t ashamed of its torrid history and notorious hauntings. They embrace the supernatural residents like any other residents on the island. You can take a “ghost tour” and find out about these Floridian spirits. Even better, you can stay at a haunted hotel!

East Martello Museum: Located at the old East Martello Fort, this museum holds all sorts of artifacts and historical records of Florida Keys history. The eeriest of displays is Robert the Doll, dubbed as “the original Chucky.” Robert the Doll was given to artist Robert “Gene” Otto in 1904 by a poorly treated servant, probably of Bahamian or Hatian descent, when he was a small child. Gene gave the life-sized doll his first name, and blamed it for his bad behavior and anything that went wrong. Gene had been an ill-tempered person all of his life, and Robert the Doll is said to be a reflection of him. Robert the Doll and Gene lived in Artist House until Gene died, and is now housed at East Martello Museum. Supposedly, Robert the Doll is possessed. He often prevents his photo from being taken, moves his toy lion from one knee to the other, and even taps on his display case. Admission is just $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and locals, $3 for students and free for children six and under. At a price like that, visit Robert the Doll and make your own judgment call.

Key West Hard Rock Café: Located in a large house on Duval Street, the Key West Hard Rock Café is home to Robert Curry. The house was built by William Curry, Florida’s first millionaire, as a wedding gift for his son, Robert. Robert was very sickly throughout his life, stricken with a variety of ailments and illnesses, yet found himself in control of the Curry family fortune. Since he wasn’t a very good businessman and likely due to his poor health, the money rapidly faded away. Distraught and depressed, Robert committed suicide in the second floor bathroom. The Curry House is now the Hard Rock Café, but Robert doesn’t seem to know the difference. Guests and employees have reported seeing a dark-haired man walking the premises, then disappearing into thin air. The Hard Rock Café is always a great place to visit when you go on vacation. In Key West, the resident ghost gives you even more reason to have a meal there!

Captain Tony’s Saloon: Key West is home to Florida’s first bar, Captain Tony’s. The location of this establishment is where the original Sloppy Joe’s was. Before it was a bar, however, Captain Tony’s Saloon building was used as the first morgue on the island. It was conveniently located, as the hanging tree where murderers and pirates were executed stood right beside the morgue. This tree, from which 75 people were hanged, now grows through the center of the building. Believe it or not, 16 skeletons were found when they were laying a new foundation. There is a tombstone in the pool room where the coroner buried his daughter. Guys, you might want to be careful of what women you hit on. Rumor has it that a woman that was executed for killing her husband and child can still be seen there, wearing the same nightgown that she was hanged in.

Marrero’s Guest Mansion: Stay at Marrero’s Guest Mansion in Key West for a taste of true island hospitality. Francisco Marrero, a prominent cigar maker, built the house in 1889 to lure his love, Enriquetta, to Key West. Francisco and Enriquetta married and had eight children. Following Francisco’s death, Enriquetta and her eight children were evicted from the house. As she left the house for the final time, Enriquetta addressed the small crowd that gathered, “I will always remain here in spirit.” After she died, Enriquetta apparently returned to her house. Many guests and employees have seen Enriquetta, particularly in room 18. Don’t worry, though. Enriquetta is a friendly spirit who welcomes guests into her home.

Hemingway Home & Museum: The Hemingway Home & Museum is home to Key West’s most famous apparition. Legendary author Ernest Hemingway called Key West his home from 1931 until his suicide in 1961. Now, the Hemingway Estate is home to approximately 60 cats, direct descendants of the 16 cats Hemingway had when he lived here. This main house is no longer a home, but a museum dedicated to Hemingway and the way he lived. Everything has been preserved the way that Hemingway and his family had it. So much so that Hemingway may think that he still lives there! His ghost has been spotted all over the grounds, accompanied by the sound of a typewriter when he is inside the main house. The carriage house in the back has been turned into the administrative offices for the museum as well as a bookstore. This is a must see for literary buffs, as well as ghost hunters.

Dean-Lopez Funeral Home: This story, the true story of German immigrant Georg Karl Tanzler (AKA Count Carl von Cosel) and Elena Milagro Hoyos Mesa, isn’t exactly a ghost story and doesn’t have anything to do with a haunting. But, read on, and you will be freaked out beyond your wildest imagination. Self-proclaimed Count von Cosel was an x-ray technician in Key West. He was 54 when he fell madly in love with Elena, a 22 year old patient dying of tuberculosis. He begged Elena to marry him but, a devout Catholic whose husband left her, she declined. Sadly, Elena died in late 1931 and was placed in a mausoleum Cosel had built for her in Key West Cemetery. About a year and a half later, the bereft Count took Elena from her resting place and brought her to a new one: his bedroom. Cosel began to “reconstruct” Elena’s body out of wax, plaster of paris and silk. He lived with her as though she was his wife until the family found out seven years later. The second showing of Elena’s body was held at Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, and she was placed in a secret grave. Only Dean knows of the spot, and will pass it to his sons before he dies. This story has been featured on many different television shows and in countless books. Take a stroll past the cemetery and funeral home. It’s free, it’s creepy and it’s a piece of history.

Of course, there is always the lighter side of Key West. You can drink, party, relax and basically do the ordinary things that ordinary people do on their ordinary vacations. But, why settle for something ordinary when you can do something so extraordinary? Key West is the best of both worlds: our living world and the supernatural world. Beings from each world just can’t seem to get enough.


Best Suited For: Students
Best Time to Travel Here: Mar - May

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