Step through the doors of the Key West Shipwreck Museum and suddenly you’ve time traveled back to 1856. Dubbed the Era of the Wreckers, Key West was flourishing as one of the richest cities in America during a time of maritime accomplishments. Learn the ins-and-outs of the wrecking industry and follow along with the rediscovery of vessel Isaac Allerton.
Isaac Allerton was a merchant ship that sank off the coast of the Florida Keys in 1856. Combining live actors, interactive exhibits, and actual artifacts, the museum showcases the story of Asa Tift and his wrecking crew. Follow along as the actors detail the unusual wrecking industry and how it created a lucrative livelihood for some of Key West’s most notable pioneers.
Asa will lead you from his fascinating warehouse all the way through the history of Isaac Allerton’s demise and beyond. Relive the wreck of the ship and learn how the crews would save cargo. Explore artifacts in each exhibit that shed light on how these brave souls were living onboard.
At Key West Shipwreck Museum, you’ll step into the shoes of the Florida coast’s bravest seamen.
Did you know
The Isaac Allerton was built in 1838 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was 137 feet long and weight 594 tons.
The sinking and recovery of cargo from Isaac Allerton was the most lucrative wreck in history – the wreckers recovered over $50,000 worth of goods.
The wrecking industry became so popular because over 100 ships passed through Key West each day. Wreckers would sit in the observation tower and yell ‘Wreck Ashore!’ at the sight of trouble.
In 1921, the wrecking courts were closed due to advancements in navigation and local railroads.