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Key West | Flashback Miami
Seminole and Calusa Indians were the first occupants of Key West. Sixteenth-century Spanish settlers found the beaches littered with the detritus of Indian battles and thus named the place Cayo Hueso (Island of Bones). In the 1830s, Key West was the wealthiest city per capita in the country. First, islanders made money by salvaging cargoes from ships that had wrecked on the reefs. Eventually, Key West became a major coaling station and shipping port. Cubans, who had left their country rather than live under Spanish rule, worked largely in cigar-making factories until that industry moved north to Tampa in 1886. During the Civil War, Key West remained in Union hands. The Overseas Railroad, built in 1912, helped the island become extremely prosperous. But the Depression had a vicious effect on the island population, and more than three-quarters of the people were soon on relief. In 1935, a devastating hurricane leveled the railroad. In 1938, the rail system was replaced by a 138-mile