With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

The Conch Republic

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 9, 2010

July 27, 2010

All Pictures

Big People

West in Spanish is Oeste.

First off, the name Key West has nothing to do with its location. I used to think that since it was the island in the keys that was the furthest west, it was called Key West. But it’s actually a misunderstanding.

The name was Cayo Hueso, or Bone Key. The Native Americans who lived in the area used this island to bury their dead, so the Spaniards called it Cayo Hueso. This could be translated to Key West by any English speaker who flunked 9th grade Spanish.

Mark is looking for a fight.

How the West Was Won

This island has the craziest history stories. No wonder writers come to Key West to become inspired. Of all the tales I heard on this trip, the one I enjoyed the most is the one about the Conch Republic.

It is a well known fact that many Cuban immigrants come into the US by way of the Florida Keys. The United States Border Patrol decided to put a stop to this and illegal drug import. In 1982 they put up a checkpoint on the road out to the keys.

7-mile bridge

If you’ve ever driven down to the keys, you may know that one little car accident or one slow driver can cause a huge back up. There are only 2 roads going into the keys and then eventually only one. Both of the roads had only one lane going in either direction back in 1982.

Oscar the cat and his trainer

The inspections at the checkpoint caused many delays to visitors of the keys. Many tourists didn’t think that the keys were worth the hassle and stopped going further south than Florida City.

delicious street smoothies

The people of Key West were unhappy. They needed tourists with money to come in and spend senselessly. They asked the government to stop. But they were ignored. Then they changed tactics.

They seceded from the union and made themselves a new nation, independent of the USA. They called themselves The Conch Republic and as their first act as a nation, they declared war on the United States.

They threw Cuban bread at some naval soldiers working at the checkpoint then quickly surrendered. Since the war was over and they were on the losing end, the Conch Republic asked the US for foreign aid. Hey, why not?

waiting for sunset

All Pictures


The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.


  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)






  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Key West

How to get there:

  • 24°33’18.4″N 81°46’48.2″W
  • Website directions
  • Take US 1 south and don’t get off.
  •  Key West is at Florida mile marker 0.


  • Tourist Information in many languages – 1-800-771-KEYS (5397)





Parking is hard to find, but whatever you do, do not park illegally. If you do and you just get a ticket, consider yourself lucky. This is not a good place to get your car towed.

The Conch Tour Train

How to get there:

  • 24°33’32.4″N 81°48’24.1″W

Go to the north end of Duval street.



  • 1-888-916-8687 (TOUR)




  • Adult – 29.00USD (Buy online for a 3USD discount)
  • 12 and under – Free


  • 9:00 – 16:30 daily.
  • Train tours departing at least every 30 minutes.
  • Closed the last Saturday in October (Fantasy Fest)
  • All tours are subject to change. Call to make sure there are no changes.


  • This is not a hop-on, hop-off tour. There is one stop at a gift shop where you can eat and use the restroom.

Southernmost Incorporated Place in the Contiguous 48 States

How to get there:

  • 24°32’47.3″N 81°47’50.9″W

It’s on the corner of Whitehead St. and South St.


  • Free


  • Always available.


  • It’s free to visit and always open.
  • It’s not really the southernmost part of the US, but it’s pretty close.


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