Pictured, first row (l-r) are: Dyris Companioni, Kylie Melton and Vanessa Martinez; second row (l-r): Beth Pinkus, Lianys Perez, Miranda Turner, Holly Frederick and Deb Smith; back row, (l-r): Pigeon Key Executive Director Kelly McKinnon, Annabelle Marcey, Stanley Switlik Elementary Principal Lesley Salinero and Mike Puto of the Friends of Old 7.

Just before Spring Break, Stanley Switlik Student Council issued a challenge to third through fifth grade students: write an expository essay on the following topic:

“Think about the importance and the history of the Old Seven Mile Bridge to the citizens of our community and our state. Now explain why it is important to save the Old Seven Mile Bridge for our community and future generations.”

In conjunction with the essay contest, a drawing contest offered the opportunity for students to draw what a restored version of the Old Seven Mile Bridge could include

Pictured, first row (l-r) are: Dyris Companioni, Kylie Melton and Vanessa Martinez; second row (l-r): Beth Pinkus, Lianys Perez, Miranda Turner, Holly Frederick and Deb Smith; back row, (l-r): Pigeon Key Executive Director Kelly McKinnon, Annabelle Marcey, Stanley Switlik Elementary Principal Lesley Salinero and Mike Puto of the Friends of Old 7.

“They were encouraged to be creative with their design and to think outside the box,” explained co-coordinator Beth Pinkus.

First and second place winners for the essay and art contests were awarded cash prizes from the Student Council made possible by donations from generous businesses in the Middle Keys community.

In addition to the cash awards, the first and second place winners of both contests received a year’s free family membership to Pigeon Key, and all winners and honorable mention recipients received t-shirts from Friends of Old Seven. All 28 participants received a pin of the Old Seven Mile Bridge from Student Council.

Fourth grader Vanessa Martinez and fifth grader Kylie Melton were chosen as first and second place winners, respectively, in the essay contest. Mirana Turner, Lianys Perez and Holly Frederick each received honorable mention nods for their entries.

Perez took top honors in the art contest with Annabelle Marcey in a close second place. Dyris Companioni, Melton and Frederick also received honorable mention recognition in the drawing contest.

The Stanley Switlik Student Council members would like to thank Pigeon Key and Friends of Old Seven for their interest and support for this project. The students at Swiltik care about the bridge and want to be a part of saving this historic and beautiful structure for future generations of Keys families.



1st Place Essay

Save Old Seven

By Vanessa Martinez, 4th Grade

Have you ever treasured something so much it was worth saving at any cost? Here in Marathon we have such a treasure and it’s called the Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. First, it’s part of our history here in the Florida Keys. Next, saving the bridge will help boost the economy in the Keys. Lastly, the locals and the tourists could use the bridge for recreation. That’s why it is so important to save our precious Seven Mile Bridge.

First, the Seven Mile Bridge is part of our history. Over 100 years ago there was a man named Henry Flagler who dreamed of connecting all the islands by railroad. In 1912 Flagler built railroad tracks across the most difficult stretch of Florida- the Florida Keys. The railroad was destroyed in 1935 by a hurricane. After that a highway was built in its place. I have always wanted that bridge to stay there so when I grow up as a woman, my kids could know the history about Henry Flagler and the Seven Mile Bridge too. It will be even more interesting if that bridge stayed there for another 100 years or more hopefully.

Next, saving the bridge will help boost the economy in the Florida Keys. For example, we can sell ice cream or water so when people get tired of running or jogging on the Seven Mile Bridge, they can have a 5 minute break to eat or drink. Having a park in front of the entrance of the bridge would make it more outstanding, s hat the adults scan relax and the kids can have fun. If a park was put in front of the Seven Mile Bridge I bet more people of other countries would come see the bridge. Maybe having some benches at the bridge would make it more attractive. Plus where do people sit when they get exhausted? How could I forget, I know another way we can boost the economy, we can sell fruit and water so people can balance their weight. As I have said, more people come if we just add objects.

Last, the locals and the tourists can use the bridge for recreation. If we saved the Seven Mile Bridge, tons of people will exercise on it. For example, whenever I want to go jog somewhere, I ask my parents to go to the Seven Mile Bridge and they take me there. I can do jumping jacks and I can run on that Seven Mile Bridge, but if it was gone, where else would I go? How can I forget, don’t you like watching sunsets? Well that is a perfect place to see one. Don’t you sometimes feel like you want to go somewhere relaxing and a see a view as pretty as a rose? Well, the Seven Mile Bridge is my place to relax. Do you like fishing? Well, I do and the Seven Mile Bridge is a perfect place to fish. Once when I was fishing on the bridge, I caught a fish 7 inches long! These are all my ideas why locals and tourists use the bridge for recreation.

After all is said and done, I want to stay with my treasure, the Seven Mile Bridge. First it would be a great to learn about its history. Next if we save the Seven Mile Bridge we can boost the economy in the keys. Last, we could all use the Seven Mile Bridge for recreation. I hope you agree if you saves the Seven Mile Bridge, it would make my heart happy and everybody’s else’s too.


2nd Place Essay

Why We Must Save the Old Seven Mile Bridge

By Kylie Melton, 5th Grade

When my grandmother and I walk on the Old Seven Mile Bridge, she tells me how Henry Flagler wanted to connect our beautiful islands together by a railroad. People told him he couldn’t do it, but he was determined to try and he did it!

My grandmother tells me about the thousands of men that he hired to build the railroad. A lot of men gave their lives while building the railroad. It was hard work and dangerous, but they were still doing their best to build the railroad.

Marathon even got its name from one of the workers. Because it was taking so long to build the railroad, one of the men said, “This is becoming a regular marathon”.

After the railroad was built a terrible hurricane came along and tore it down. Later, our roads were built over top of the old railroad rails. My grandmother shows me the part of the old railroad that is now our bridge railings. They are rusty and old and when I touch them, I imagine the train there like it was before.

We meet people from all over the world who come to walk and see our famous Seven Mile Bridge. They like to take pictures of our beautiful waters and sunsets. They think it’s neat to see the turtles and the stingrays.

Walking on the bridge with my grandmother is so relaxing and fun. When we go to Pigeon Key, she tells me about all the buildings and the railroad history on this neat little island. I would be very sad if I didn’t have the Old Seven Mile Bridge because someday, I would like to walk with my children and grandchildren and tell them about the wonderful history, like my grandmother told me.

If I should win a prize, I would like it to be used to help to repair our Old Seven Mile Bridge.

Honorable Mention Essays

Save Old Seven

By Miranda Turner

4th grade Switlik

Do you know why we should save Old Seven? Well here are some explanations. First, it is a wonderful place to watch the golden sunset over the horizon. Next, it has many details of interesting background. Last, it is an amazing tourist attraction. Be smart, save Old Seven, it’s a wonderful piece of art!

First, it is a magnificent place to sit, relax and watch the sun set over the sparkling water. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the lovely scenery of the bright sunset beyond the Old Seven Mile Bridge. You can look all over the world but the only worthwhile sunset is at the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Think from your heart, don’t take Old Seven apart!

Next, it has a long line of historical background. For example, it took about 800 hardworking, determined men to build Old Seven. Also the men built from one end to the other and met in the middle. I hope you understand that Old Seven is important to us. Save Old Seven!

Last, it is a wonderful tourist attraction. For example, tourists in Florida enjoy learning about the Old Seven Mile Bridge. I even went to Pigeon Key and learned about the miraculous railroad that was once there. Now you know and understand why I want to take action and save Old Seven!

In conclusion, I want to save Old Seven because you can watch the fascinating bright gold sunset over the bridge. Next, it has lots of historical background. Last, it attracts the tourists from Florida who learn about Old Seven. I hope you agree that we should save Old Seven!

Save Old Seven

By Lianys Perez

4th grade Switlik

Help! Help me save Old Seven. Why should we save Old Seven? To begin with, Old Seven has many beautiful characteristics. On the other hand, we should save Old Seven because it signifies a lot of history. More important, tourists enjoy coming to Marathon to visit Old Seven. When I have a dream, I don’t give up and I am not giving up until we save our lovely Old Seven.

Do you think Old Seven is unique? I do! For starters, we should save Old Seven because from it you can see a variety of sea life. For example, there are lots of mackerel, grouper, and marlin. Also, you can see two of my favorite animals, manatees and dolphins. My favorite is going to Old Seven and glancing at the clear waters full of sea life. To show you what I mean, I like going to our beloved bridge at evening and feel the cool breeze there.

With no doubt, my most preferred thing is Old Seven’s hot and humid climate. Heavy rains fall from April to November, however mostly sunny skies mean it’s time to go snorkeling at Old Seven. Without a doubt, this bridge will always be an enjoyable place with mysterious details!

I did not forget to talk about Old Seven’s history. Old seven has lots of history. Who built Old Seven? In fact, there were sometimes as many as 3.000 workmen working in very hot weather. The workers were troubled with mosquitoes, snakes and hurricane force winds. What was Old Seven used for? This bridge used to be a railroad and Mr. Henry Morrison Flagler use to travel on it. Mr. Henry Flagler was the person who came up with the brilliant idea of building a railroad. Pigeon Key served numerous purposes. For example it used to be housing for the workers that built Old Seven. This bridge certainly will always have lots of history to explore and discover!

This awesome place not only attracts its residents, it attracts tourists who are fascinated because of its detailed construction. When tourists come down to Marathon, the first adventure they take is going fishing. Of course I would do the same. Tourists like to come down here and that makes me as happy as a lark because that brings money to our community. How you might ask? Tourists like to visit Pigeon Key, they donate to this foundation and that’s what brings money to our community. I have to admit our wonderful orange, reddish and yellow sunsets make you stare at it the whole evening. I wonder what amazing pictures tourists take home. I am extremely sure that they take the beauty of our beloved and incredible Marathon!

I am very delighted that I live in Marathon because this way I can enjoy the fullness of this bridge, over coated in the rays of the sun in the evenings. I can appreciate all the beauty of the creation from the bridge. All of the history of Old Seven will always be with me because I am aware of all the effort it took to construct this beautiful bridge. I am sure that tourists will always cherish Old Seven in their hearts. I urge you that if haven’t had the opportunity to visit Marathon, please stop and visit us and see why I advocate for saving Old Seven!

Preserving Local History

By Holly Frederick

4th grade Switlik

Everybody has something in their city that they care about or want to keep for as long as they can. I would like to keep our Old Seven Mile Bridge. I would like to preserve the Old Seven Mile Bridge because it’s a piece of Florida Keys history. I would also like to preserve the Old Seven Mile Bridge because it attracts tourists. Lastly, it’s a great place to watch the sunset and take pictures of sea life and our water. Saving the Old Seven Mile Bridge is important so let’s all get together to save it.

As far as I am concerned, the Old Seven Mile Bridge is the oldest piece of history we have in Marathon. It is 100 years old this year. It was finished in the year of 1912 which is a very long time ago. I want to be sure to tell you that the Old Seven Mile Bridge is one of the first roads to get from Key West to Marathon or from Marathon to Key West. The old Seven Mile Bridge is an old piece of the Florida Keys.

Snap! Snap! That’s the sound of tourists at the Old Seven Mile Bridge taking pictures. One time a movie was filmed on the bridge. It was called True Lies and they blew up a piece of the bridge. Tourists are a big part of the Old Seven Mile Bridge and Florida Keys history. Tourists from all around the world come to Marathon and most go on our Old Seven Mile Bridge. Our Old Seven Mile Bridge and tourists are what makes the Florida Keys a great place to live.

Many people just come to the Florida Keys to see the water and sea animals. Our bridge, water and sunshine are local pieces of our history. The bridge is as great place to watch the sunset and take pictures. Our Old Seven Mile Bridge is a great place to watch sea life. Often people exercise on the bridge and see the sea life, the water and the colors. The bridge is a great place to spend time, see sea life and many more things.

If we remove the bridge it will be a piece of the Florida Keys missing. The bridge is an awesome piece of history and culture. Also, the bridge is as great place for tourists to come and enjoy the bridge. Lastly the bridge is a great place to see sea life, sunsets and the water. Most people want to enjoy the beautiful water. Our bridge is piece of my life, tourist’s life and many other peoples’ daily life.








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