Discover the Fascinating Tale of Fred the Tree on Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge
If you have ever driven to the Florida Keys, your car probably crossed over the Seven Mile Bridge. It has undergone many transformations since the early 1990s. The Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad connected mainland Florida to the Keys. These days, Fred the Tree lives on the original and now defunct bridge that runs parallel to the modern Seven Mile Bridge. You can’t drive on this road, but you can still spot Fred from a mile away.
What was Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge called originally?
Back in the early 1900s, Henry Morrison Flagler and John D. Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company worked together to create the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad (sometimes just called the Overseas Railroad). This road connected the Keys to the rest of the state. It has been an essential part of the Keys’ history ever since, Keys Voices reports.
By the time 1912 rolled around, the first train traveled from Miami to Key West on the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad. This Florida bridge provided a way for travelers to get from the mainland down to the many keys further south. It was damaged in the 1935 Labor Day hurricane when the Florida East Coast Railway still owned it. The company was unable to pay for repairs.
Eventually, it was sold to the state of Florida and was refurbished in the 1950s. Now called the Overseas Highway, this bridge runs alongside the Over-Sea Railroad and can be seen as you drive by. This is where Fred the Tree lives, and the highway is known as one of the most scenic routes in the nation.
Fred the Tree lives on the Old Seven Mile Bridge to Key West.
As you drive the contemporary Seven Mile Bridge, an Australian pine tree (or salt-sprayed Casuarina) grows out of the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Many portions of the bridge cannot be accessed anymore, and this area can’t even be reached by foot. You basically need to get dropped out of a plane to get to Fred. Some areas are walkable for pedestrians after a recent revamp, but Fred remains inaccessible.
These days, no one knows how Fred ended up on the bridge. Fred has been thriving in the sun for more than 30 years now when he was first noticed. There are a few guesses about how an Australian pine tree might have ended up on a bridge near the Southernmost Point of the United States, but one guess is that a truck might have dropped some seeds. Some say this is one of the most dangerous highways, but it isn’t that scary once you see all the water.
Fred has a growing fan base on social media, where you can find him at Fred the Tree on Facebook (find him @FredtheTree1). Fred also has his own location on Instagram, where you can check in and tag him in photos. There are many recent photos of Fred, bigger and greener than ever.
Fred survived Hurricane Ian on the bridge.
After Hurricane Ian passed through Florida and took many areas, people wondered if Fred and the bridge survived. Both survived the storm, and the Austrailian pine tree somehow remains alive and well. The bridge sustained some damage but didn’t take Fred down.
Some say that Fred the tree is representative of the resilient residents of the Florida Keys. Storms come and go, but Fred and everyone who lives along the 125 miles of Keys always bounce back. Don’t miss his festive tropical Christmas decorations during the Holiday season, as only Floridians could do.