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Duck Key in the Florida Keys

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys



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Old Maps of Florida Keys showing Duck Key

 

DESCRIPTION OF INSET MAP

The inset PLAN OF THE FLORIDA KEYS shown above is part of a wonderful old map of Florida by J.H. Colton published in New York and dated 1885. The edge shows a beautiful Victorian decorative geometric border that is the hallmark of Colton Maps. The entire map measures 14 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches including margins.

Below is an enlargement of the inset showing the Keys in great detail.

 

At the top pf the map can be seen Cape Sable, Florida Bay and Horse Neck Key.

On the right hand side can be seen part of the words "Indian Key" and "Barnes Landing"

Moving the eye to the left the words Duck Key appear, as well as Long Island which we now know as Long Key .

Then comes Key Vaca and Cow Key ( present day Marathon and Grassy Key), Sombrero Key, Bahia Honda, Newfound Harbor Key, Saddle Bluff, Pine Islands (Big Pine) , Boca Chica, Key West with Fort Taylor noted, Woman Key, Boca Grande, and Marquesas Keys.

Snorkelers who visit the reef by Sombrero Light will not find a Sombrero Key which existed in 1774 and is shown 100 years later on the 1885 map above.

 

GEORGE GAULD SURVEY - 1774

In a survey for the British Admiralty in 1774, George Gauld wrote

" About five miles south from the west end of the Cayo de Vaccas, or Kay Vaccas, there is a small sandy kay on the reef, called by the Spaniards Cayo Sombrero. . . "

 

As for Duck Key, it was considered part of the Cayo de Vaccas.

" Cayo de Vacos, or rather the thick range of islands which go by that name, extends about N.E. by E. for a space of 5 leagues, the eastern most of which being called Duck Kay. These islands are covered with trees of various sort, such as mangrove, button-wood, palmetto trees, &c. . ."

In Gauld's section called "Of the Watering Places on the Florida Keys" , he describes the west end of "Duck Key" as a fresh water source.

"At Bahia Honda very good fresh water is to be obtained in the same manner (earlier reference to digging a well in the sand): and on the south side of Cayo de Vaccas, about 8 miles from the west end, there likewise fresh water wells; they are found on the east part of the narrow opening, with a sandy beach on each side of it.

". . . there are several fresh water____, and natural reserviors among the rocks; particularly a large one on the _____side of Kay Vaccas, about 6 miles from the west end, where the water never fails. It lies in a valley about 100 yards from the beach, a little to the ____ of three mangrove islands. Fresh water is found sometimes among the rocks at the west end of Kay vaccas, and the small islands to the westward ____, as well as the west end of Duck Kay, and at several other places."

Gauld survey of the Keys ended as a result of the Revolutionary War of 1776.

 

WILLIAM GERALD DE BRAHM MAP - 1722

William Gerard de Brahm's chart gives the island the name Reynold's Island. In De Brahm's guide to mariners which is published in The Atlantic Pilot in 1722, many earlier names appearing on Spanish charts are ignored. William Gerard de Brahm, a Swiss, gave many of the Keys his own names. He was the first Surveyor General for British East Florida.  De Brahm renames Biscayne Bay as Sandwich Bay after the Earl of Sandwich and Florida Bay as Grant's Lake after East Florida's first royal governor, James Grant.

De Brahm description of the waters off of Duck Key is a picture of beauty.

"Approaching Hawk channel, the water gradually changes from the stream's deep blue to a beautiful seagreen and at last into milk-white. The surroundings under the blue-coloured water are fine white marl with sponge, coral and tourtoise grass."

 

Shown above is a small portion of the De Brahm Chart. Note: Duck Key named Reynolds I. by De Brahm and Long Key identified as Veveres by DeBrahm.

 

DE BRAHM"S CHART OF THE SOUTH END OF EAST FLORIDA AND THE MARTIERS

For a large representation of the De Brahm Chart of 1722 click on portable document format.
File will take several minutes to download without a DSL connection as it is in portable document format (.pdf)
Unlike the small .jpeg image above, however a .pdf image once downloaded can be increased in size to see greater detail without distortion.
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COAST CHART OF 1864

 

Coast chart images from a trigonometrical survey under the direction of A. D. Bache, Superintendent of the survey of the coast of the United States. Created and published Washington, U.S. Coast Survey, 1864.

Pine Key Islands on l eft. Islands which make up Marathon in middle, Duck Key and Long Key images to right.

 

ENLARGEMENTS

Closeup showing Duck Key to the left and Long Key to right

Portion of Vaca Keys, Tom's Harbor Islands, Duck Key, Channel Key and Conch Keys (Conch and Walker Key)

Channel Key and Conch Keys (Conch and Walker Key) and part of Long Key

Vaca Keys - Note islands are not joined, Channels between islands were filled in with the building of the Florida East Coast Railway Extension by Flagler in early 1900s. Pictured from left is part of the Key Vaccas, then Stirrup Keys, Fat Deer Keys, Crawl Keys, and Grassy Key. Tom's Harbor Islands and Duck Key on right.

 

1873 - Portion of Survey Map showing Tom's Harbor Islands and Duck Key

1873 Duck Key survey

The survey map was done by Charles Smith in 1873 and is a portion of a larger survey which also shows Knight's Key, Key Vacca, Hog Key and Grassy Key.

 

MAP OF1901

 Another map of the region dated 1901 shows a bit more detail with the individual Keys still separated by water. Construction of the Florida East Coast Railway extension which will connect many of the islands with fill of does not occur for another decade. Duck Key and the Tom's Harbor Islands are referred to as the Duck Keys. Grassy Key is not joined to the Vaca Keys (Gravel Keys) and the Islands of Marathon such as Knight's Key.

 

 

 

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