Friday, April 5, 2013

Henry Flagler

Henry Flagler


  Henry Morrison Flagler was born on January 2, 1830 and died on May 20, 1913. The story of Flagler should be of interest to all my Florida friends and relatives. Contrary to popular belief Flagler was the real founder of Standard Oil. When Rockefeller was asked if he was the brains of Standard Oil he replied "No sir, I wish I had the brains to think of it . It was Henry Flagler". Flagler traveled to Florida on the advice of a physician to help his first wife who was very ill. At that time Jacksonville was as far as they could go by rail. His wife died in 1881 and soon after he married her caregiver. After their wedding they traveled to St. Augustine and found the city interesting and beautiful but there were very few hotels. Flagler offered to buy one hotel but the owner refused to sell so he built his own called the Ponce De Leon Hotel which is a college today. It was at this time that he retired from the day to day operation of Standard Oil and committed himself to the development of Florida. He began buying up short line railways which eventually became the Florida East Coast Railroad. Henry built the railroad and other luxury hotels all the way down to West Palm Beach founding that city in 1894. Flagler originally intended to make West Palm the end of the line but during the winter of 1894-95 a severe freeze hit West Palm but did not effect Miami. He decided to continue the railroad to Miami where he built hospitals churches and schools. Flagler dredged channels, built streets, instituted the first water and power system, and financed Miami's first newspaper. He opened the exclusive Royal Palm Hotel. Flagler is called the "Father of Miami. The Key West Railroad was the largest and most difficult engineering feat second only to the building of the Panama Canal. The building of a railroad from the southern tip of Florida to Key West, a distance of 128 miles. It was as if hurricanes targeted Flaglers construction crews. Over time they were hit by three hurricanes that destroyed newly constructed sections and killed hundreds of workers and civilians. After millions of dollars and hundreds of lives lost, the railroad was dedicated on January 22, 1912.

Henry Flagler


Whitehall - The home of Henry Flagler
Florida East Coast Railway

Florida East Coast Railway

Remnants of Henry Flaglers Bridge
The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine which was originally a hotel built by Flagler
Flagler College in St. Augustine

Flagler museum in West Palm

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