Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour!

Here is LilaMeow posing with Robert the Doll. Of course, she did ask his permission for the photo!

Here is LilaMeow posing with Robert the Doll. Of course, she did ask his permission for the photo!

Last night I went on the Key West Ghosts & Gravestones tour with my friend, Kurt. The tour began at 501 Front Street, on the corner of Front and Duval Streets where we boarded the trolley, fittingly decorated to fit the “ghoulish” theme. There were dead vines on the ceiling, creepy flickering candles (fake, of course for safety sake!), and other fun decorations to add to the spooky experience. The tour guide, you guessed it, is DEAD! It took Kurt twenty minutes to figure this out even though our guide, Elsa, wore dated attire from the 1800’s and was extremely pale with dark, sunken eyes. By the way, Elsa had fallen down the steps of the Key West Lighthouse to her death.

During the course of the tour, your guide will share various ghost stories and tales from different historic landmarks here in Key West. Some of these sites include Captain Tony’s Saloon and St. Paul’s Church, to name just a couple.

My favorite part was stopping at the Fort East Martello, where the infamous Robert the Doll resides. We were met by Benjamin Jonah, our dead “hooker” from the 1800’s. Benjamin told us he collected corpses from the ocean when yellow fever struck Key West. He gave us a brief tour of the fort, then told us Robert’s rules. When entering Robert’s room, you must do the following: acknowledge him by saying hello, ask his permission to take a photo, and remember to say good bye. Supposedly, there have been numerous reports of strange and not-so-good things happening to individuals that do not follow these rules! Oh! And you also get a ghost radar to carry around with you as well! I followed all of the rules and had my photo taken with Robert while my radar went off the charts! It was terrifying but a lot of fun, nonetheless.

Try and lift this puppy!

Try and lift this puppy!

After the fort, we boarded the trolley again and continued the tour, driving by several more landmarks while listening to more stories. We finally ended up at the Shipwreck Museum at Mallory Square. We had access into the museum and were told of the most recent haunting there. It was very dim and reminded me of the haunted houses I had visited around Halloween while growing up.
Our guide was sarcastic, witty, enthusiastic, and very knowledgable. I loved the interactive aspect of the tour too; if someone yells, “you’re doomed!” as you drive by, you must yell back “YES! We are the doomed!”

My friend, Kurt, has resided in Key West for a number of years now; he had never done the trolley before. He was far more terrified than I was during the tour, but we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The entire experience was an hour and a half long. It was entertaining, informative, and downright fun! I highly recommend it to not only visitors but locals as well. My recommendation would be to go at night; the darkness adds to the tour! Maybe not the tour for the truly faint of heart though! Call 305-29-GHOST for more information and to make your reservations, which are required!

For more information about Key West, check out our Key West information site. Also, make sure to visit the restaurant review section of this blog to help you decide where to eat during your stay on our island!

Lila Meow

East Martello Fort & Museum

A cannon at the East Martello Fort.

A cannon at the East Martello Fort.

I have lived in the Keys since the 1990’s, and in all if this time I had never been inside the East Martello Fort and Museum until this past weekend. Located next to the Key West International Airport and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is easy to find. Before I visited the only thing that I new about the Fort was that it was built during the Civil War and that it houses the creepy Robert the Doll, and that fact did not excite me.  But I decided to check it out with my Dad this weekend before he flew back home to New Jersey. It was Halloween after all, and what better time is there for creepy than that!?

The East Martello Fort was actually built in 1862. It has walls that are eight feet thick made of brick and granite. Like the other Forts on the island, this one never experienced a hostile assault, and it was already rendered obsolete even before the Civil War was over due to new munitions that would be able to go right through this brick and granite edifice.

The courtyard of the East Martello Fort and Museum.

The courtyard of the East Martello Fort and Museum.

I love the old, brick facade. It really draws one’s attention. Inside it is an old Fort that now houses (besides Robert the Doll) many Key West artifacts and lots of historical island information. There is also a cute little gift shop that sells books and other trinkets including Robert the Doll replicas that you can all be sure that I did not purchas

Exhibits were wide ranging in subject matter, all relating to Key West of course. Key West’s military history with the Spanish American War, WWI and WWII, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sponging. Salting. Diving. Fishing. Wrecking. Cigar manufacturing. Aviation. And then there is the weird with not only Robert the Doll but also Count Von Cosel (aka Carl Tanzler) and his Norman Bates-like obsession with the beautiful local girl Elena.

The Fort also serves as an art gallery, displaying some of the folk art of Mario Sanchez and a sculpture garden filled with works by Stanley Papio.

Here are two of the many sculptures located outside at the East Martello Fort and Museum.

Here are two of the many sculptures located outside at the East Martello Fort and Museum.

I found that while interesting, the “exhibits” lacked any orderly displays. It was basically like walking through a hodgepodge of Key West history all mixed up along with modern things like pressure washers that were left laying around by the museum staff. I was not really disappointed with my visit, but perhaps wishing that it was set up more professionally to draw in more folks.

East Martello Fort and Museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and it is closed on Christmas. Cost is $9 per adult and $5 per child. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and locals.

See what is happening on the island during your visit by checking out our Key West Events Calendar, and for other things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Before making your dining reservations for while in Key West check out our restaurant reviews!

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!
Island Genn
Key West Concierge