Friday, November 18, 2011

Water And Cement

I took these pictures a couple of days ago when it was hot and slightly muggy and sunset gave the light a golden glow.

We've been having some trouble on night shift at work with a colleague unwell and unable to show up on my opposite shift which is already short one dispatcher. As he recovers we get lots of overtime but dispatching police fire and rescue every single night tends to fry the brain.

Walking Cheyenne after I struggle out of bed is a great antidote to the stress of sitting up all night.

Looking at the pictures and reliving the pleasure is pleasure doubled.

"Keep Well Clear" is a good idea considering that the State of Florida made the decision to let this monument to a happier more industrious era collapse.

If Henry Flagler came back today he would no doubt be cheered by the numbers of visitors who do come to Key West even though his railway is nothing more than a vague memory a century after the first train arrived in town.

The newspaper reported yesterday that Toppino Construction is losing it's headquarters to repossession by the bank and as an aside that Toppino is living on only as a 'development' company whatever that is in this new world of economic depression.

It is hugely ironic about Toppino. Somehow the Italian immigrants won the contract to build Flagler's crazy over-the-sea railroad which used the same submerged cement casements as used in that other engineering wonder, the Panama Canal.

The modest Italian immigrants built a railroad whose cement is as solid today as it was a hundred years ago. The parapets built in 1938 to accommodate the highway are crumbling. The submerged pillars the length of the Keys remain intact after all this time. Check them out as you drive the new (1982) Overseas Highway.

Before Flagler had his vision and his engineers drew it and Toppino built it, these little islands had no names and hardly any people. They were limestone outcrops covered in dark shaggy bushes. I wouldn't have wanted to live here...

But Cheyenne and I do enjoy walking here to enjoy a view of then old islands as they were and as they were developed.

These engineering marvels had style and beauty in their strength. Today we have boring modern bridges across this country that are literally falling down aft a few decades of neglect. Even as we pay trillions to keep banks from failing our bridges and roads collapse.

Flagler's don't.

We at least get to enjoy them.

Thank god at least the highway is getting a repaving. I can't help but think that in destroying Flagler's railroad we've lost an opportunity to travel these Keys with ease and in style. But if Flagler hadn't been a visionary he wouldn't have stood out and visionaries are in short supply these days.

"I would have been a rich man had it not been for Florida." Flagler's return on investment was doing good for his fellow Americans, a sentiment so out of date it seems laughable today. Especially to our modern CEOs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


David B. said...
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Conchscooter said...

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