Hotels. -- * Russell House, George Phillips, proprietor, on
Duval St.; Florida House, both $2.50 per day, $40.00 to $60.oo per month.
Boarding-Houses. -- John Dixon, Whitehead Street;
Mrs. E. Armbrister, Duval Street; Mrs Clarke; from $8.00 to $15.00 per week.
Telegraph to Havana and the north; office in Naval depot building.
Post Office oppostir the Russell House.
Churches.-- Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, and Methodist.
Bookseller.-- R. P. Campbell, Duval Street, (northern weeklies,
Newspaper. -- Key West Dispatch, weekly, well edited.
The Key West Literary Association has a reading-room.
Steamship Lines.-- The Baltimore, Havana, and New Orleans line,
semi-monthly; to Baltimore, $50.00, to Havana $10.00, to New Orleans $40.00.
The C. H. Mallory & Co., line from New York to Galveston and New Orleans
$40.00. The Spofford and Tilson line from New York to Galveston and New Orleans,
semi-weekly; to New York $40.00, to New Orleans $40.00. The Alliance, United States
mail line to Fort Jefferson, Tampa, Cedar Keys, St. Marks, Apalachicola, Pensacola,
and Mobile, the line for the west coast of Florida.
The name Key West is a corruption of the Spanish Cayo Hueso, Bone Key,
the latter word being of Indian origin (Arawack, Kairi, island). Formerly it was called
Thompson's island by the English. It is about six miles long and one mile wide, and
is formed of an oolitic coralline limestone. It is the highest point of the Florida Keys,
yet of such insignificant altitutde that the most elevated point is only fifteen feet
above the sea level. The soil is thin, swampy and but little cultivated. it produces,
however, a thick jungle-like growth of mangroves, cacti, tamarinds, mastics, gum
elemi, and similar tropical bushes from twelve to fifteen feet in height. There is no
fresh water except that furnished by e-- rains. Wells are dug in different parts, and
reach water at the depth of a few feet, but brackish and unpalatable. So closely,
indeed, are these wells in connection with the surrounding ocean, that the water
rises and falls in them as the tides do on the shore, but following after an interval
of about three hours.
The town is in latitude 24 degrees 33'. It was incorporated in 1829.
The present population is 4,800, of which 1500 are colored. It is situated on the
nothern part of the western end of the island, and has an excellent harbor. Duval
is the principal street. Rows of cocoanut palms line some of the principal avenues,
presenting a very picturesque appearance. A fine view of the harbor and town can
be had from the cupola of Mr. Charles Tilt, agent of the Baltimore line of steamers.
Many of the residences are neat and attractive. The lower part of the town
is known as Conch town. Its inhabitants are called Conches, and are principallly
engaged in "wrecking," that is, relieving and rescuing the numerous vessels which
are annually cast away or driven ashore on the treacherus Florida reef. The Conches
are of English descent, their fathers having migrated from the Bahamas. In spite
of the dubious reputation which they have acquired, they are a hard working and
sufficiently honest set, and carry on their perilous occupation if not quite for the
sake of humanity, yet content with a just salvage. Their favorite vessets are sloops
of ten to forty tons, which they manage with extra-ordinary skill.
Quite a number of Spaniards are dometicated in Key West. The dark eyes,
rich tresses, graceful forms, and delicate feet of the ladies frequently greet the eye.
Havana is only eighty-four miles distant, with almost daily communication.
Fine oranges, coacoanuts, alligator pears, cigars and other good things for
which the Pearl of the Antilles is famous can readily be obtained. The favorite social
drink is camperou, a compound of caracoa, eggs, Jamica spirits and other ingredients.
Fish are abundant and finely flavored. A variety of sardine has been found in the
waters near, and has been used commerically to a limited extent.
The principal industries are "sponging" and "turtling." The sponges are
collected along the reef and shores of the peninsula. From December, 1868, to
March 1869, 14,000 pounds were received by one merchant. They are all, however
of inferior quality.
The turtles are of four varieties. The green turtle is the most highly prized a
food. They are sometimes enormous in size, weighing many hundred pounds.
The hawks-bill turtle is the variety from which "tortouse shell" for combs, etc., is
obtained. The logger-head and duck bill are less esteemed.
Extentsive salt works have long been in operation here. They produce
annually about 30,000 bushels of salt by solar evaportion. Corals and shells of
unusual beauty are found among the keys, and can be bought for a trifling amount.
Handsome canes made of the Florida crab-tree, are also to be purchased.
Key West is a U.S. naval station for supplying vessels with coal, provisions,
etc. There is a Naval Hospital near the town, 100 feet in length, anf several other
extensive public buildings. As in a military point of view the point is deemed of great
importance in protecting our gulf coast, the general govenrment has gone to large
expense in fortifying it. Fort Taylor , at the entrance of the harbor, is still in process
When completed, it will mount 200 heavy guns. Besides it there are two large batteries,
one on the extreme north part of the island, and one midway between it and Fort Taylor.
The Barracks ar usually occupied by a company of the 5th U.S. Artillery.
The climate of Key West is the warmest and most equable in the United States.
Even in winter the south winds are frequently oppressive anf debilitating. From five to
ten "northers" occur every winter, and though thery are not agreeable on account of the
violence of the wind, they do not reduce the temperature below 40 degrees Fahr.
Though the proximity of the Gulf Stream renders the air very moist, mists and
fogs are extremely rare, owing to the equabiltity of the temperture, and though the
hygrometer shows that the air is constantly loaded with moisture, this same equability
allows the moon and stars to shine with a rare and glorious brilliancy, such as we see
elsewhere on dry and elevated plateaux.
Another effect of the Gulf Steam may also be noteed. Every evening, shortly
after sunset, a cloud-bank rises along the southern horizon in massive, irregular
fleeces, dark below and silver gilt above by the rays of the departing sun. This is the
cloud-bank over the Gulf Stream, whose vast current of heated waters is rushing
silently along, some twelve miles off.