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WebWorldWonders Teacher:

David Richardson

Contact Information:
P.O. Box 1052
Islamorada, FL 33036


The crew of Henry Flagler originally quarried the Windley Key Fossil Reef State Geologic Site from 1908 until 1912. The rock was used as fill for the railroad being built in the Keys. Later the rock was cut to create “keystone”, a polished decorative stone. The flat walls left by the quarrying activity reveled an ancient coral reef. By studying the wall’s surface, you can identify and compare the corals to today’s modern reef. The rock here is called Key Largo Limestone and consists of thirty percent corals and a seventy percent mix of algae skeletons, shells and sediment.

Panorama One: About 180 degrees from the start, is a stonecutter. The cutter would slice the huge blocks of limestone into slabs a few inches thick. It used a cable to do the cutting instead of a saw blade.

Also note how the plants and trees are able to grow without soil. The limestone is porous and the roots are able to find water in the rock. Leaf litter decays rapidly in this tropic like environment and is absorbed quickly by the plants, leaving little to remain as soil.

Panorama Two: The Alison Fahrer Environmental Education Center stands over the quarry. The center houses information on the geology and history of Windley Key. To the left of the Center is a channel cutter machine. This machine would drive two chisels spaced several feet apart down into the rock to create blocks. The blocks were then cut into slices for keystone.