June 8th, 2008

crane

Leaving Key West

I hate alarms in the morning in general, but it was even worse on vacation, but it was useful as we were able to have breakfast before checkout time and had something of a plan in place once we packed everything into the car and headed into town. There were lots of things still in Old Towne, but only one thing we really needed to see, and that was the Shipwreck Museum. Jet and I thought it was going to be a museum about the shipwrecks that dotted the shallow, treacherous waters of the Keys. There's a great barrier reef running most of the length of the Keys out to the Dry Tortugas; and the shallow water and big reef made it easy for ships to run aground on them.

But the museum wasn't about the ships themselves, it was about the people that went out to the wrecks to get people off the wrecks and save them and any of the cargo that could be salvaged. The salvage was worth a great deal, and the wreckers were often rewarded 20-25% of the value of what they salvaged. So Key West, for quite some time made nearly all the islands' money off salvage. There was a point in history where the per capita income was greater here than anywhere else in the nation, due to wrecking.

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