City Profile: Marathon


The view from the Seven Mile Bridge alone is worth the trip to this island. See what else Marathon has to offer.

Located as it is very nearly at the mid-point of the Keys, Marathon justly deserves its appellation of "Heart of the Keys." And a busy heart it is. What began as a tiny fishing village in the early 1800s has become a bustling metropolis replete with boutiques, a country club, hotels, motels, and restaurants ranging from elegant to express.

Called the boating destination of the Keys, Marathon includes Boot, Knights, Hog, Vaca, Stirrup, Crawl and Little Crawl keys, East and West Sister's Island, Deer and Fat Deer keys, Long Pine and Grassy keys. It incorporated as the City of Marathon in 1999. Marathon itself was once a base camp for Henry Flagler's railroad. In fact, the railroad gave Marathon its name. Record has it that Flagler was getting on in years and worried that he wouldn't see the railroad's completion to Key West. He made a plea to railroad workers to finish in his lifetime. Two years of "marathon" work began to bring the railroad to Key West.

Having had its ups and downs since then, the community is now a sizable resort area with sportfishing its primary attraction. Marathon boasts tarpon, sailfish, dolphin, and bonefish tournaments throughout the year. Year-round the back country on the bayside is a popular spot to catch tarpon, trout, grouper, snapper, and other "bottom fish." Party boats take groups out to the wrecks and reefs on trips lasting a few hours or several days. In spring and early summer, charter boats carry anglers out to the Gulf Stream to catch the mighty marlin.

The island also boasts a nine-hole golf course, family resorts, several vacation rentals and a resident population of nearly 9,000. It's from Marathon that travelers begin their breathtaking drive over the Seven Mile Bridge, a vantage point unsurpassed for taking in the sheer sweep of the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

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