Western Union (Schooner)

Western Union is one of the most famous historic schooners in Key West in the state of Florida. The schooner is situated at 202 William Street in the Key West Bight area. The National Register of Historic Places of the United States added Western Union (Schooner) to its list on May 16, 1984. Western Union schooner is the official flagship both for the city of Key West and the State of Florida.

Herbert Elroy Arch of Thompson Enterprises built the Western Union schooner in 1939. This schooner was the last of the largest sailing vessels that were built in Key West. The Western Union Thompson Fish Company owned this schooner but leased it to the Western Union Telegraph Co. between 1939 and 1974. The Western Union schooner regularly checked and repaired the signal cable between Key West and Cuba and also laid underground signal cables throughout the Caribbean region. The owners of Western Union schooner converted the schooner into a passenger vessel in 1974.

The converted Western Union vessel participated in New York 1976 Opsail event. The owners sold the vessel to Vision Quest National Ltd. from Philadelphia and the new owners renamed the vessel as New Way. They used the vessel to redirect youth in trouble. The vessel was also part of the Steven Spielberg film, Amistad as La Amistad in 1997. In 1997, the Historic Tours of America of Key West purchased the vessel and again renamed it as Western Union. The Historic Tours of America sails the Western Union schooner twice a day to provide a glimpse of the historic maritime past of Key West.

The main attraction of the Western Union is the towering masts of the vessel supporting massive white sails. The vessel is among the oldest wooden schooners still working in the United States. The Historic Tours of America has converted the vessel as Schooner Western Union Maritime Museum and offers four special featured tours. These tours are termed as Stargazer Cruise, 22nd Annual Lighted Boat Parade, Sunset Sail, and Full Moon Sail. The prices for Stargazer Cruise and Full Moon Sail are $59 for adults and $29 for children between 4 and 12, while they are $49 for adults and $29 for children between 4 and 12 for 22nd Annual Lighted Boat Parade and Sunset Sail.