Crane Point’s 63-acre property provides visitors with numerous trails, hardwood hammock, and dramatic exhibits featuring artifacts and objects of cultural interest.
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It’s raining today so we thought we would do something indoors. Our first stop was Aquarium Encounter. Then we went to Burdines for lunch.
By the afternoon, it had stopped raining, so we went to the Crane Point Museum and Nature Center in Marathon. Crane Point, the best preserved tropical hardwood hammock in the middle keys, offers several miles of self-guided trails where visitors can learn about some of the 160 species of native plants in the hammock from interpretive signage.
We noticed that they closed at 5 p.m. Since it was already 2:30 p.m., we asked how long it usually took to “do” the museum. The man told us “that depends, you could be here all day but the minimum to do the trail and museum is 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how fast you walk.” Perfect, we have enough time.
We decided to do the trails first and then the museum. Once we stepped beneath the thick canopy, hardwoods and thatch palms border the narrow leaf-carpeted trails that traversed the hammock.
As we are walking, lizards and geckos cross in front of us. Gary warns me to be aware of snakes. Snakes! Eeek! Just kidding! I’m used to it by now. We have a black snake in our neighborhood that always crosses in front of me while I’m on my walks.
Hardwood hammock gradually changed to thatch palm hammock, which in turn led to mangrove forest, tidal lagoons, and ponds.
George and Olivia Adderley came to Florida from the Bahamas in the 1890’s. They purchased the 32 acres and constructed a classic Bahamian home of Tabby, a concrete like material made of burned conch and other shells. The Adderley’s lived on the site from 1902 until 1949. They sold turtles they caught, sponges they harvested, and charcoal they made from abundant buttonwood. For food they grew root vegetables, pigeon peas, and fruit trees.
Their home, which George built, is made of Tabby construction, a concrete-like material made of burned conch and other shells. The Adderley House is a classic Bahamian-style and is the oldest house in the Keys outside Key West.
In later years the Adderley’s sold a right of way to the Overseas Railway, and Vaca Station was created. After living off the land for almost 50 years, George Adderley sold his property to Francis and Mary Crane following his wife’s death.
The Cranes built a modern house at water’s edge on the property’s most remote point. As conservationists and horticulturists, they worked tirelessly to preserve the hammock until they sold it in 1970. Before long the site was threatened by the developer’s bulldozer; a complex of private homes and a shopping mall were proposed for the 63 acres. Thankfully, the Florida Keys Land Trust stepped in to rescue the site.
Crane Point Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $14.95; Seniors (65+) is $12.95; Children (5-13) is $9.95 and children 4 and under are free.