47) Indian Key
The history of Indian Key spans from thousands of years before the arrival of the Spanish in Florida, when the key was the home to prehistoric Indians, to the 1830s when Indian Key was the seat of Dade County. Wrecking, the salvage of vessels wrecked on offshore reefs, has been an important industry in the keys since the late 1700s. Under the direction of Jacob Housman, who bought the island in 1831, Indian Key challenged Key West as a wrecking center. Housman built a store, hotel, residences, warehouses and wharves as he turned Indian Key into a busy port. In 1836 he had the Legislative Council establish Dade County with Indian Key as the county seat. This prosperous community came to a violent end on August 7, 1840, when the town was attacked and burned by Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole War. The remains of stone foundations and cisterns can be seen today on walking trails.
Indian Key is one mile offshore on the ocean side of U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 78.5. The island is administered as the Indian Key State Historic Site and is accessible only by private boat or charter boats available at nearby marinas. For more information write or call: Indian Key State Historic Site, c/o Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site, P.O. Box 1052, Islamorada, FL 33036; (305) 664-4815.