The Florida Keys have a rich history of pirates, conquests, and brutal battles, and today you can still spy remnants from stories of the past. One such place is a bar in Key West Florida by the name of Captain Tony’s Saloon; the centerpiece of which is an actual gallows tree that witnessed the deaths of several pirates in the 1800s. Today, people hang very different things from the saloon’s ceiling, including ladies’ bras, dollar bills, and business cards. This is a place that has to be seen to be believed and is a must-visit during your trip to Key West.
Besides the 16 pirates and one woman who were hanged at the tree, Tony’s has seen quite a few bodies in its day. According to legend, when a massive hurricane struck the island in 1865, the building was flooded and all but one body was washed away.
The locals decided to make the future saloon the final resting place for that body, and it supposedly still lies beneath the building today.
Ghosts and Gravestones even do haunted tours of the saloon, exploring eerie encounters with the Lady in Blue — the woman who was hanged for murdering her family; unidentified bodies that were found beneath the flooring during construction; and even the murder of an infant by a deranged mother.
It began as an icehouse doubling as a morgue, and the building has gone from a place to house the dead to a cigar shop, a bordello, a speakeasy, and finally a bar called Sloppy Joe’s.
As the story tells it, when the landlord raised the rent by a dollar per week in 1938, the owner and his customers picked up the bar in the middle of the night and moved it all to a new location where it currently sits on Duval Street.
1958 was the year Captain Tony Tarracino, a local boat captain, purchased the bar and gave it its current name.
Throughout its lifetime, the bar saw many a famous face, including Earnest Hemmingway and Jimmy Buffet, who paid homage to the bar in his song “Last Mango in Paris.”
Today, the saloon is much less dark than its shadowy past and is a great place to grab a drink and escape the Key West heat.
The past is never far behind us, though, and you’ll never tire of the interesting stories of Captain Tony’s Saloon.
Captain Tony's Saloon
Address: 428 Greene St., Key West, FL
Why You Need To Go: The spooky stories of this place's past are best enjoyed over a cool brew!