Crawl Key

Aerial of Crawl Key. Photo taken by the Federal Government on October 7, 1987. From the Wright Langley Collection.

Crawl Key is an island in the Middle Keys of Florida. The Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), at approximately mile marker 56.5, traverses the Island between Grassy Key and Long Point Key, this is part of a long stretch of road known as the Grassy Key Causeway. It is entirely within the city area of Marathon, Florida.

The Key, named for the kraals (pens) in where large sea turtles were held until butchered for food (steaks and Turtle Soup). Located here is the entrance to Curry Hammock State Park, on Little Crawl Key which is in line with the Key on the Oceanside.

An article in the “Key West Citizen” of March 19, 1926, states that this key was called Gathering Key and referred to a buried treasure located in the area. Kraal is a Danish word meaning gathering. On the Oceanside of this key, one can still see the remains of a vast Indian midden (an old dump for domestic waste). A report written for the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey in 1935-36 states: “The name is well established and in general use.

Authority I (Charles L. Pinder of Key West) gives the spelling as Kraal. Local information states that the name developed from the turtle crawls (storage pens) that were early established here. The name is recommended.”

Historical names include Gathering Key and Kraal (Danish for gathering) Key.

Postcard of Turtle Crawls – The Tichnor Brothers Collection