79. Turtle Kraals Restaurant

Historic Marker number 79 is located at 231 Margaret Street at the Historic Seaport.

This building was constructed as a combination curio store, gift shop, and tourist attraction. It faces the Historic Seaport with a good view of the turtle kraals, cannery building, and Thompson's Fish House.

During the 1940-50s, tourism began to increase along with interest in visiting working waterfronts. Today, tourism has become the base of Key West's economy.

The workings of the turtle kraals and the cannery were of great interest to visitors from around the World. For 13 cents, you could experience turtles, some weighing 300 lbs. or more, being unloaded from turtle trawlers anchored at the dock. Captured turtles were slid across the pier on their backs and lowered down a steep ramp into the kraal directly in front of you.

You could get a tour of the cannery building, visit an unusually large turtle named "Big George", and have the option of purchasing a can of turtle soup for dinner or as a souvenir of your trip to paradise.

The store was filled with a vast array of turtle memorabilia and post cards of the Kraals. It is local lore this was the first paying tourist attraction along the seaport.

At the peak of the Golden Shrimp era in the 1950s, one would have experienced 500 shrimp trawlers along the docks at any given time.

The building has gone through many transitions over the years but still pays homage to its history with nightly box turtle races at the bar. Grab a number for your lucky racer and cheer your turtle to the finish line.