As founder of the Standard Oil Company in Ohio in 1870, Henry Flagler was one of the most prominent figures in the Standard Oil monopoly. Flagler is also known as the father of Palm Beach and Miami Florida. I live in Palm Beach County and all through the county you can see his name.
I was lucky enough to visit St. Augustine a few years ago where I got married. There stands the Ponce de Leon Hotel, (now Flagler College) the luxury hotel built by Henry Flagler, one of the first hotels so have electricity. Flagler was good friends with Thomas Edison and together they supplied generators to the hotel.
This hotel was a huge project for Flagler and he soon realized he would need a solid form of transportation to fill his rooms. He then purchased the short line railroads which became “Florida East Coast Railway.” He soon built the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach (which I visited a few dozen times). Extending his railway from St. Augustine, Florida to Palm Beach, Florida. He also build the Palm Beach Inn, (now known as the Breakers), a prestigious resort hotel in Palm Beach, County. These hotels were meant to house his travelers using his Florida East Coast Railway.
Henry Flagler had plans to turn Palm Beach into his hub for his railway however weather and freezes in the area forced him to look south into Miami. Pushing his railroad plans into the south his railway soon reached Biscayne Bay.
After the United States announced the construction of the Panama Canal, Henry Flagler became very interested in the Florida Keys. He had this idea to link his Florida East Coast Railway from Northern Florida all the way down into the Keys.
Hurricanes and massive damage halted his project quite a bit. However it was finally completed in 1912 and Flagler himself boarded and rode his own private railcar to the Florida Keys. Marking the completion of the Overseas Railroad.
Today the State of Florida built the Overseas Highway to Key West. They used most of the remains of Flagler’s railway structure. The old railway has become a fishing pier. (Another place I got to visit and I just love it). Looks amazing to be staring off into so much water and thinking of all the work that went into Flagler’s project.
Henry Flagler really is the father of Palm Beach County, heck I think at this point you can say he’s the father of Florida in general. His mark stretches across this state from Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palm Beach, Miami and the Keys.