The settlement of Marathon established its post office on February 23, 1909 and Knight's Key post office closed on
January 30, 1912. Marathon soon became a bustling railroad town connected by a series of boardwalks. For some
reason the Marathon post office was closed and services moved to Pigeon Key on May 25, 1923. It was
re-established at Marathon on March 9, 1927.Neighboring Pigeon Key, Cayo Paloma on Spanish charts, was a
major stepping-stone for the railroad construction. Like Long Key, Marathon and Bahia Honda, a major construction
camp was built on Pigeon Key. It survived as the Overseas Road and Toll District base of operations. It is the only
large collection of railroad buildings spanning these two eras that remains.
Marathon had a school as early as 1909, which was, as in the rest of the Keys, a one-room schoolhouse. Well
known Upper Keys Charles "Prof" Albury taught school in Marathon in 1929 before moving to Matecumbe to teach
with Ferran Pinder, and then to Tavernier after the 1935 hurricane. He retired in 1966 as the principal of Coral
Shores High School.
Marathon was not damaged significantly in the 1935 hurricane but there was a loss of life. From the Miami News
dated September 6, 1935, "12 Dead Found at Marathon, Grassy Key By Rescue Craft - Six are dead at Marathon
key, including Manager Lilja of the Thompson Fish Co. there, and six negroes are dead at Grassy Key. . . ." To read
a government report of an inspection made on September 16, 1935, please Click HERE. Use the BACK ARROW to
Mrs. Sue Moore followed "Prof" as teacher, but moved to Big Pine Key after the 1935 hurricane. Monroe County's
school newsletter "Tropic Topics" states that in 1938, Mrs. Sue Moore and Mr. Woodburn (the postmaster) of
Marathon submitted a list of 15 students for a school at Marathon. One of the buildings owned by the Bridge District
would be repaired and house the school. The School Board approved the proposal and requested that the Bridge
District allow the school bus to pass through the tollgates without charge. When speaking of Marathon school
history, one must mention Mrs. Eva McKinney. When school opened in September, 1947 there was no teacher. Mr.
and Mrs. McKinney of New York City had purchased land in Marathon and hurried there to teach. She taught at the
Sue Moore School for 18 years. Ground would not be broken for a high school until October 5, 1956. The Marathon
High School opened the following year with Gerald Guthrie as principal. The high school PTA held its organizational
meeting in May 1957 with Lillian Tingler nominated as president.
The largest Keys fish story took place in 1912 just off of Knight's Key. Captain Charles Thompson of Miami
harpooned a 38-foot-long whale shark that reportedly took about 39 hours, five harpoons and more than 100
bullets to subdue. The 26,594-pound whale shark was towed to Miami, preserved, stuffed and exhibited on a
railroad flat car. The sign on the flat car read "weight 30,000 lbs. Length 45 ft." All went well until it was accidentally
destroyed by fire in 1922.
HISTORICAL PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF THE UPPER KEYS
Jerry Wilkinson · Key Largo, FL
The Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys meet at
Key Largo Library Community Room, second Monday of each
month. Most programs of a historical nature.
Page 3 of 4
In the Marathon area there were actually three railroad
stations listed in the January 7, 1908 train timetable: Vaca,
Knight's Key and Knight's Key Dock. Nine months later, the
October 1, 1908 timetable listed the station as "Marathon,"
instead of Knight's Key Station. Carlton Corliss, formerly of
the F.E.C., wrote "Knights Key station was simply renamed
Marathon." As with most of the Keys communities, the
railroad station's name established the name the community
retained. Three months later, the Marathon post office was
established which further established the use of the name.
An October 9, 1908 newspaper clipping in the Flagler
Museum (no source indicated) reads as follows: "The
extension [water] well on Key Vaca which has been in the
charge of Mr. Ed Sheran has finally been abandoned after
reaching a depth of 680 feet. The machinery has all been
removed to a new location on Knight's Key where a final effort
will be made to locate water. A large two-story fish house is
just being finished at Marathon, Key Vaca on the Extension
Railway. It is being erected by Mr. R. McCreary of Tarpon
Springs. The two-story, 25-room boarding house being built
at Marathon by the F.E.C. Railway for its large force of
employees will be completed shortly. It has a beautiful
location overlooking the Florida Bay. Mr. T. C. Ese is foreman
of the work." It is obvious that the name Marathon was well
established and recognized by the media by the end of 1908.
There was a post office established for Knight's Key on April
13, 1907 in anticipation of the arrival of the railroad; also for
all the F.E.C. employees working for the huge railroad facility.