Before the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base existed, our founder Captain Sam Wampler worked for the South Florida Council and ran the Florida Gateway program out of his station wagon in Miami. The property now known as the Florida Sea Base was purchased by the BSA National Council with money donated by the Fleischmann (think margarine) Foundation and Captain Sam Wampler’s vision became reality.
What does this have to do with tollgates you ask? The Florida Sea Base sits at the intersection of US-1 and Tollgate Blvd. The Florida Sea Base sits in the Tollgate Shores subdivision. The subdivision has three streets; Tollgate Blvd, Tollgate Shores Drive, and Tollgate Lane. The specific location now occupied by the Florida Sea Base was previously the Tollgate Inn, a resort/marina.
Ok, but why tollgate? There is a roadside marker on US-1 in front of the Florida Sea Base that explains:
I enhance the photo to the best of my ability, but if you can’t read it, it says:
ROAD AND FERRY
In April, 1926, Monroe County began construction of a road on the east end of Upper Matecumbe to connect with other islands. It eventually made it possible to drive to Key West by using a ferry.
The first car drove to Key West on January 25, 1928 by boarding a ferry here at today’s Boy Scout Sea Base and crossing 40 miles of water to No Name Key.
Later the ferry docked at Grassy Key, traveling by road to the west end of today’s Marathon. From there a ferry crossed to No Name Key.
It was on the Morning of March 29, 1938 that the daughter of the Cuba Council cut the ribbon opening the road without the ferries by using the widened railway bridges.
A toll booth was erected here to collect $1 for car and driver and 25 cents for each additional passenger. The toll was removed in 1954.
So know you know the reason for all the tollgate references. Let me add just a little more back-history. The current US-1 was completed around 1980. The previous highway was built on the railway bed from the Flagler Railroad which ran from Miami to Key West. (There are dozens of books on the topic of Flagler’s Railroad. If you are interested in history, it is an amazing story or engineering, wealth, dedication, ending in a disastrous hurricane, the strongest ever recorded, which decimated the railroad and killed thousands of railroad workers in the Keys, many of whom were camped on the small island just off the dock of the Florida Sea Base.) The driveway in front of the Florida Sea Base Program Office (registration office) is part of the original US-1 roadway.
It’s always nice to hear from readers and folks from back home.
Submitted on 2013/03/12 at 22:49
Great to see that Captain Harman is still hosting crews on the Dutch Love. Our crew had a great time with Captain Harman in July 2011. We just received confirmation we have our next CRS adventure launching March 8, 2014. Can’t wait.
Thanks for the blog,
Scoutmaster – Troop 179
Fort Worth, Texas
Thanks Charles. Eat some good Tex-Mex for me. I earned my Eagle and OA Brotherhood as a member of Troop 36, Chartered by Carswell AFB, Longhorn Council, Fort Worth.
Former Florida Sea Base Scuba Instructor Milly McCoy and former FSB Divemaster Justin Evans commented on the BSA Tarpon:
“BSA tarpon was my favorite dive platform for the 20 seasons I worked at FSB. I did hundreds of dives off her with Captain Steve and Instructor Bert. Captain Hal, her skipper, used to be lots of fun. He had a faked cassette tape he’d play right before the night dive. It was a USCG pan pan reporting sightings of bull sharks in the vicinity of Alligator Reef. Scared the c**p out of me when he did it during my first staff training. Steve and Bert calmly donned their gear and jumped into the dark water. So I bravely followed wondering what I had signed up for. . When Hal retired Tarpon had a couple other skippers before Captain Dennis. He made diving even more fun. I never laughed so hard in my life as I did when a scout dived through the hoop and got stuck. I think the hoop was an inner tube from a wheelbarrow tire. Nobody could do the James Brown scream like Captain Dennis. BSA Tarpon may not have been our fastest dive boat, but she was always the most fun.” – Milly
“aw, that was a great boat. at least I can say I was one of the last people to work on the BSA Tarpon last year. I hope that the new owners treat her well.” – Justin
Captain Dennis Wyatt was too distraught to submit a comment on the website, but he did call me yesterday sobbing uncontrolably.
The wind was blowing hard yesterday morning. Fortunately it was from the northwest and that was actually good news for the divers as the islands act as a wind break and the breezes are off shore on the ocean side. The divers made great dives at two patch reefs named Ham and Rocky Top. They had lunch, swam and snorkeled at Donut.
More Coral Reef Sailing crews were in for shore leave yesterday. The Coral Reef staff was very busy keeping them entertained. No new crews arrived.
We have a north wind at 19 knots this morning, 63°F, and mostly cloudy skies. Our forecasted high is 68. Our average high for this date is 76°. The WSI long term forecast of “much colder than usual” for the month of March seems accurate today. The wind should ease a little tomorrow but will clock to the northeast; not great news for the divers. The clouds should dissipate significantly tomorrow. We have 0% chance of rain for the next several days.
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape