Florida State Road 9336 and Main Park Road serve as the highway corridor which connects US Route 1 in Florida City to Flamingo on the shore of Cape Sable through Everglades National Park. Both Florida State Road 9336 and Main Park Road trace their origins back to the Old Ingraham Highway. Pictured above is the razed right-of-way of the Old Ingraham Highway at the end of the Anhinga Trail which has become a favorite sunning spot for alligators.
Part 1; the history of the Ingraham Highway, Florida State Road 9336 and Main Park Road
The Ingraham Highway was born out of interests during the first decade of the 20th Century by Henry Flagler and the Florida East Coast Railway ("FECR") to construct the Overseas Railroad. One of the first proposals for the Overseas Railroad was through the Florida Everglades by way of Cape Cable. In 1904 construction of the Panama Canal had been taken over by the United States and the FECR saw an opportunity to gain an interest in shipping through port in the City of Key West. Cape Sable was home to the small fishing village of Flamingo which had been settled in 1892 in what is mainland Monroe County. A small boom took place in Flamingo when it appeared speculators would choose the community as a siding of the Overseas Railroad. Ultimately Cape Sable and Flamingo were not chosen for the route of the Overseas Railroad which would instead be routed through the Upper Florida Keys by way of Key Largo. The Overseas Railroad would ultimately be completed during 1912.
Cape Sable, the Florida Keys and Monroe County can be seen on this 1892 Rand McNally Map.
Cape Sable, Flamingo and the chosen route of the Overseas Railroad appear on the 1910 Harmon & Company Map of Monroe County and Miami-Dade County.
Despite Flamingo almost declining to a ghost town by 1910 much of the previously surveyed route by the FECR to Cape Sable was recycled into plans for a highway. Construction of the Ingraham Highway began in 1915 from Florida City and would quickly reach the Royal Palm area of the Everglades. The Ingraham Highway was named after James E. Ingraham who was the President of the Model Land Company (a subsidiary of the FECR) . Ingraham had overseen the earlier land surveys through the Everglades to Cape Sable. On November 23rd, 1916 Royal Palm State Park was dedicated but progress on the construction of Ingraham Highway stalled largely due to the ongoing first World War. Much of the construction of the Ingraham Highway was built concurrent with the Homestead Canal. The Ingraham Highway was largely completed to Cape Sable and Flamingo by 1922.
The 1924 Rand McNally Auto Trail Map shows the Ingraham Highway terminating at Royal Palm State Park. The Old Spanish Trail and east branch of the Dixie Highway are shown terminating at Florida City at the east terminus of the Ingraham Highway. Note; the Ingraham Highway is not shown among the early Florida State Roads.
The early Ingraham Highway can be seen in this National Park Service photo. The early Ingraham Highway was largely unsurfaced and poorly graded.
An undated post card showing the Ingraham Highway through Royal Palm State Park.
The completed Ingraham Highway appears on the 1927 National Map Company Highway Map of Florida.
The Ingraham Highway appears as part of Florida State Road 205 ("FL 205") in the 1931 State Road System of Florida guide. FL 205 is shown heading directly north from Florida City via Krome Avenue to a terminus at US Route 94.
FL 205 was added to the State Road System as part of 1931 Legislative Chapter 14927 according to the 1933 State Road System of Florida guide.
The Ingraham Highway appears in detail as part of FL 205 between Cape Sable and Florida City on the 1937 Florida State Road Department Map of Monroe County and 1936 Florida State Road Department Map of Dade County. Notably the Monroe County Map shows the Ingraham Highway following modern Bear Lake Road north from Cape Sable to Coot Bay and eastward towards what is now the Rowdy Bend Trailhead. The Dade County Map shows FL 205 multiplexing US Route 1/FL 4A from Palm Drive north on Krome Avenue to Dixie Highway.
The full route of FL 205 appears on the 1939 Rand McNally/State Farm Insurance Map of Florida.
In 1945 the Florida State Road Renumbering occurred and saw FL 205 reassigned as FL 27. The 1945 Florida State Road Renumbering took the previous system which was numbered in the order highways were legislatively adopted and converted it to a grid based system. The designation of FL 27 implied that it was a north/south State Road which was near the Atlantic Coast of Florida. The FL 27 designation was carried all the way from US Route 94 south via the Ingraham Highway to Cape Sable.
A National Park in the Florida Everglades was authorized by Congress on May 30th, 1934. Although a National Park had been authorized it took more than a decade for private and public lands to be consolidated. Everglades National Park was formally dedicated on December 6th, 1947. The creation of Everglades National Park saw FL 27 and the Ingraham Highway now traversing a large swath of Federally owned land which can be seen on the 1951 Shell Highway Map of Florida.
At some point during the early 1950s FL 27 was truncated to the boundary of Everglades National Park. This left much of the Ingraham Highway under the maintenance of the National Park Service. The truncated FL 27 can be seen on the 1956 Shell Highway Map of Florida.
At some point during the late 1950s and early 1960s FL 27 had been extended north of US Route 41 (previously US Route 94 until 1949) to US Route 27. This would lead to the odd circumstance where US Route 27 (hidden FL 25) and FL 27 met on the outskirts of Hialeah. FL 27 and US Route 27 can be seen meeting each other on the 1964 Official Florida State Road Department Map.
The exact timeframe for the construction of Main Park Road in Everglades National Park is not fully clear. Main Park Road shows as a replacement for Ingraham Highway in the vicinity of the Royal Palm Visitor Center between the 1967 and 1974 USGS Maps hosted on Historicaerials.com. Much of Ingraham Highway between Royal Palm Visitor Center west to Sweet Bay Pond was abandoned in favor to the new Main Park Road located to the north. According to the National Park Service website much of the Ingraham Highway was replaced to restore parts of the wetlands damaged by it's construction. The abandoned Ingraham Highway from Royal Palm Visitor Center west to Sweet Bay Pond is now part of the Old Ingraham Highway Trail and is easily observed on Google Earth.
In 1983 the FL 27 designation was dropped in favor of FL 997 and FL 9336 to avoid confusion with US Route 27. FL 997 was designated from US Route 27 south to FL 9336 in Florida City. FL 9336 began at US Route 1 in Florida City and traveled westward 8.745 miles to the boundary of Everglades National Park where it continued as Main Park Road. It is unclear why FL 999 was not assigned in favor of FL 9336 given former was available for use.
Part 2; a drive on Florida State Route 9336 and Main Park Road to Flamingo
FL 9336 begins in Florida City of Miami-Date County departing from southbound US Route 1 via a right hand turn onto Palm Drive.
FL 9336 westbound traverses downtown Florida City via Palm Drive and makes a left hand turn at SW 192nd Avenue. Florida City originated as a land promotion for a new community then known as "Detroit" circa 1910. The name of the community quickly changed to Florida City upon incorporation during December of 1914.
FL 9336 westbound leaves the Florida City limits, jogs southward on SW 192nd Avenue and makes a right hand turn onto SW 376th Street.
As FL 9336 westbound merges away from SW 376th Street it transitions onto Ingraham Highway. FL 9336 westbound continues on Ingraham Highway over three canals to the Everglades National Park boundary and the beginning of Main Park Road.
Main Park Road is 39.3 miles in length and terminates at Flamingo on Cape Sable. Main Park Road westbound quickly intersects the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center near the Everglades National Park entrance station. Ernest F. Coe was landscape designer who envisioned a National Park in the Florida Everglades. Ernest F. Coe was instrumental in advocating for protection of the Everglades watershed which led to a National Park being authorized by Congress in 1934.
Departing the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center the alignment of Main Park Road westbound passes by the Old Ingraham Highway just prior to the Entrance Station.
Upon passing through the Entrance Station, Main Park Road westbound is signed as 38 miles from Flamingo.
Main Park Road westbound crosses over a slough and intersects the access road for the Royal Palm Area.
The Royal Palm Area access road diverges from Main Park Road southward and has a Florida Panther advisory sign.
The right branch of the Royal Palm Area access road takes traffic to; the HM69 Nike Missile Site, the Old Ingraham Highway Trailhead, the Daniel Beard Center and Dr. Bill Robertson Jr. Center. The HM69 Nike Missile Site was in use from 1965 to 1979 as part of the aftermath of the Cuban Missile crisis. The HM69 Nike Missile Site housed two Nike Hercules surface-to-air Missiles which could be fitted with a W31 Nuclear Warhead. A similar Nike Missile Site can be found on Key Largo along with numerous Hawk Missile Sites around Key West.
Staying on the left branch of the Royal Palm Access road takes traffic to the Royal Palm Visitor Center where the Anhinga Trail and Gumbo Limbo Trail are located.
The paved portion of the Anhinga Trail is a segment of the Old Ingraham Highway which has been repurposed. Traveling eastward to the end of the paved section reveals a gap in the grade of the Old Ingraham Highway.
The Old Ingraham Highway is usually a favorite spot for Alligators to sun when conditions are clear. The adjoining Homestead Canal acts as a makeshift Gator Hole which often hides the numerous Alligators from view. This photo below was taken during 2012 when numerous Alligators were present on the grade of the Old Ingraham Highway.
More Alligator photos from the Old Ingraham Highway in 2015.
The boardwalk section of the Anhinga Trail.
West of the Royal Palm Area the speed limit on Main Park Road jumps to 55 MPH.
Main Park Road westbound intersects an access road for the Long Pine Key area.
Main Park Road westbound next accesses the Pineland Trail 32 miles from Flamingo.
Main Park Road westbound intersects the Pa-hay-okee Trail 26 miles from Flamingo.
Main Park Road westbound crosses through the Dwarf Cypress Forest at an elevation of 4 feet above sea level.
Main Park Road begins to swing southward at the Dwarf Cypress Forest. At 18 miles from Flamingo, Main Park Road westbound intersects the Mahogany Hammock Trailhead.
The Mahogany Hammock Trail crosses a fresh water prairie via board walk to a tropical hammock. Numerous old growth Mahogany Trees can be found along the broad walk Mahogany Hammock Trail. The normally wet prairie was dry on the surface when these photos were taken during Memorial Day 2021.
At about 16 miles from Flamingo, Main Park Road reconsolidates with the grade of the Ingraham Highway. At 14 miles from Flamingo, Main Park Road intersects the turn off for Paurotis Pond.
At 11 miles from Flamingo, Main Park Road intersects the parking area for Nine Mile Pond.
Main Park Road turns southwest and intersects the access area for Noble Hammock and Hell's Bay.
At 7 miles from Flamingo, Main Park Road westbound intersects the parking area for West Lake.
Main Park Road westbound enters Monroe County and intersects the Snake Bight Trailhead. The Snake Bight Trailhead is a former roadway to the ghost town of Snake Bight which was located on Florida Bay. Snake Bight Road was dredged along with a canal by the Model Land Company during the 1920s which evolved into a small fishing village by the early 1940s before the creation of Everglades National Park.
West of the Snake Bight Trail, Main Park Road intersects Mrazek Pond.
Main Park Road westbound next intersects Coot Bay Pond.
Main Park Road west of Coot Bay Pond curves away from the grade of the Old Ingraham Highway southward towards the Christian Point Trail.
Main Park Road westbound crosses over Flamingo Canal and picks up the grade of Old Ingraham Highway again at Bear Lake Road.
Main Park Road westbound enters Flamingo where continues as Flamingo Lodge Highway to the Flamingo Campground. The Flamingo Visitor Center as of May 2021 remains heavily damaged from hurricanes in 2005 and 2017. The Flamingo Visitor Center is presently undergoing renovations which will modernized the structure but retain it's 1950s era aesthetic.
The Flamingo Visitor Center in 2015 when it was a better state of repair.
Flamingo is one of the few inhabited communities found in Main Land Monroe County with the other notable locale being Pinecrest of the Everglades Loop Road. Some ruins from the original community of Flamingo reportedly can be found on the Coastal Prairie Trail westward beyond Flamingo Campground.
A look out into Florida Bay southward from Flamingo into the Florida Keys.
Manatees in the Flamingo Marina at the southern terminus of Flamingo Canal.
A look at once was the Flamingo Service Station.