Hello Friends and Family,

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, Part 3

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Fort Christiansvaern has stood in the harbor of Christiansted since 1749, defending protected shipping from potential attacks by foreign invaders, privateers, and possibly pirates. It also enforced the collection of customs duties, housed prisoners, and quartered Danish troops primarily responsible for internal security on the island of St. Croix.

The fort was built by enslaved Africans and conscripted Danish soldiers upon the earthworks of an earlier French fortification. Fort Christiansvaern is one of the best-preserved colonial forts in the Caribbean and is the largest structure at the historic site.

When I visited, I noticed lots of cannonballs plus a huge Royal Poinciana tree which is native to Madagascar and is cultivated for its flamboyant beauty in many places, including Florida and Hawai‘i. I noticed in recent photos (not mine) that the tree is no longer standing there. More than likely, it died of old age and was not replaced because this species also damages structures with invasive roots.

The fort looked rather shabby at the time of my visit but I understand that it has recently been cleaned, refurbished, and painted a bright yellow.

Another touristy thing I did was to take a trip over to St. John for a snorkel tour of Virgin Islands National Park. Trunk Bay was our destination with its Underwater Trail — a great place for beginners and anyone who wants to learn about marine life by reading the plaques along the trail. The trail follows the west side of Trunk Bay Cay for about 300 feet before making a U-turn back to the beach. The coral and fish are well represented here.

Confession: this and the next photo are scanned from slides that I purchased in St. Croix...

...because my Minolta SLR was not waterproof and I did not plan to buy a waterproof case for it. The slides were much cheaper.

There are dozens of historic sugar mills dotting the landscape of St. Croix. Many of these mills were constructed between 1750 and 1800 when, while under Danish rule, St. Croix was one of the richest sugar-producing islands in all of the Caribbean. I took a tour of the Estate Whim Museum which includes a Great House exhibiting interesting architecture with a rounded main entrance facing the main gate.

The house was constructed of stone and coral — designed with lots of windows and doors to allow the tropical breezes to cool the residence. Period furniture fills the house and gives a feeling that you are visiting the owner's home, so many years ago.

While the Great House is stately and full of historical artifacts, visitors seem most eager to see the sugar factory ruins and mills. Wind power was used to turn the wooden rollers which crushed the sugar cane releasing the cane juice.

This chimney directed the smoke upward — the source fire was used to boil some of the cane juice until it crystallized and became raw brown sugar.

These vats were used to cool some of the processed cane juice...

...so it could be distilled into rum.

Once distilled, the rum was aged in barrels.

Note that rum is still produced on St. Croix. You can visit the distillery of my sister's favorite rum, Captain Morgan, as well as the Cruzan Rum Distillery.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com