Fleming Key is a small island that lies to the northwest of Key West, Florida and is one of the many islands of the Florida Keys. It is different from the other Keys in that it is a man-made island. It is also different because it belongs to the U.S. Navy and is not accessible to the general public. It is part of the Key West Naval Air Station.
History of Fleming Key
To examine the history of Fleming Key, one has to look at the history of Key West around the time of World War II. Most of the Key West infrastructure was built by the U.S. Navy at a time when defense of the mainland was needed against German U-boat submarines reportedly spying on the U.S. coastline.
Fleming Key was initially built as a storage point for explosives. The Navy did this by dredging the harbor and then using the dredged sand and coral rock to build the land mass. There have been several Navy installations established on this island and today it is the home of the Army Special Warfare Combat Swimmers School and the Naval Research Lab.
Other Islands around Fleming Key
The island is connected to the main island, Key West, and the City of Key West by Fleming Key Bridge. The Navy has just implemented several structural modifications to the bridge to keep it modern. Boaters can go under the bridge but cannot go around the island for security reasons.
Another man-made island in this area is Sunset Key. Its original name was Tank Island and it was constructed by the U.S. Navy for the purpose of having a fuel depot during the Cold War. In 1965, the harbor was dredged even more in order to handle submarines that became increasingly larger during the Cold War period. The material extracted while dredging was used to build this island.
In 1986, Sunset Key was sold to a private developer named Pritam Singh and by 1988 the fuel storage facilities were dismantled and only the infrastructure for utilities, water, and sewage remained. Finally, in 1994, another developer named Tom Walsh purchased the island and today it is a luxury living and resort area. The private residential dwellers on Sunset Key along with the Key West Westin (a luxury resort company) own the island today. You can only get there by boat as there is no bridge connecting the island with Key West.
Sigsbee Park is one more man-made island close to Key West and Fleming Key. Sigsbee Road connects this island to Key West and it is part of the Key West Naval Air Station. It is used primarily as a military housing area and has an elementary school, youth center, marina, commissary and Navy Exchange.
Touring the Key West Area
There are boat tours that you can take of the entire Key West area to include Fleming Key and the other man-made Keys. These can be mixed boat/walking tours and it will give you the opportunity to see the rich history of this area. While you cannot go to Fleming Key because of its military nature, you can see other interesting places such as the Fleming Key Channel where several historical shipwrecks occurred, the house of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway.