Exploring Florida’s Resident Ghost Town

Beautiful beach on Indian Key, Florida, USA. Photo and Caption: JMcQ/Shutterstock.com

Indian Key Historic State Park in the Florida Keys is another one of those hidden gems that not even resident Floridians know about, much less visit. The island was once home to the bustling town of Indian Key but now remains an uninhabited ghost town that you can visit as long as you have the means to get there. Here the island seems untouched by time as nature has taken over its beautiful landscape.

The Park is located off of the coast of Islamorada. Back in the 1800s, it was the bustling small town of Indian Key, Florida. Indian Key became the first county seat for Dade County in 1836. This was all thanks to the 11-acre island being the site of a lucrative business involving wrecking or salvaging cargo from shipwrecks (both were completely legal at this time.)

Jacob Housman wanted to become independent from Key West. As a result, Housman called upon the Legislative Council to establish Indian Key as the first county seat for Dade County. Due to his seedy business practices that he was known to engage in, however, Housman’s fortune began to decline. Soon after he lost many court battles and finally his wrecker’s license.

In December of 1838, Dr. Henry Perrine moved to Indian Key with his family to await the end of the war. Perrine wanted to use a government grant to cultivate useful tropical plants on the mainland. Indians attacked the island in 1840 for its well-stocked store. 

During the attack, Dr. Perrine perished but Housman managed to escape along with many other inhabitants. What is left of that era can only be seen nowadays in the form of its only-remaining stone foundations. This turbulent history sounds like something out of a movie, but it did happen, shaping the island into what it is today.

Housman’s grave is a popular tourist attraction at Indian Key Park. Photo: TripAdvisor | Glee47

There’s plenty to see and do on the island if you’re ever nearby wanting to pop in for a visit one afternoon. You can access it by boat only or rent out a kayak with a local charter company. There is a $2.50 fee to enter per person, and it is currently open from 8 a.m. till sundown. Due to early closings because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are currently no walk-in overnight sites available.

For more information, please visit the Indian Key Park website.