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St John Trails: Windberg Ruins

St. John USVI Trails: Annaberg Area

Excerpted from St. John Off the Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer
Annaberg Area Map
Annaberg Area Map

The Annaberg area, south of Mary Point, was once the most populated section of St. John. There were plantations at Maho Bay, Mary Point, Fredriksdal, Annaberg, Leinster Bay and Windberg. The historical ruins and places of interest can be accessed via the North Shore Road, south of Leinster Bay Road. This is an excellent area for a leisurely stroll. The terrain is relatively flat, and the surrounding forest is shady and lush. The historical sites are close to the road and easy to get to. The more intrepid can make their way further into the bush to explore the area to a greater degree.

 

St John Trails: Old Danish Road
Old Danish Road

 

Old Danish Road
The National Park has cleared a section of an old Danish road, so that you can see what the island roads looked like back in colonial times. The cleared section of old road is located right near the intersection of the North Shore Road and Leinster Bay Road, just across from the Annaberg School.

 

Windberg Ruins
Windberg Ruins

Windberg
Just east of Big Maho Bay, the North Shore Road splits into two one way roads. The Windberg Ruins are located on the side of the road that heads back toward Big Maho Bay and Cruz Bay.

History of Windberg Plantation
Slaves on the Windberg Plantation, as well as on plantations all over the island, did anything in their power to resist the conditions to which they were subjected. These acts of resistance included such tactics as mutinies aboard slave ships, overt rebellion such as the violent and almost successful slave rebellion of 1733, suicide, self-mutilation, abortion and marooning or running away from the plantation. They resisted as well by pressing for the enforcement of already established laws, which had been passed by Danish liberals to improve the conditions of slavery, and by conducting labor actions, such as strikes, work stoppages and sick-outs.

In 1831, the slaves at Windberg staged such an action. Forty slaves reported to be ill and checked into the plantation sick house. The overseer on the plantation reacted by forcing the slaves to work. One woman died, and the police conducted an investigation. The overseer was fired, and a new overseer was brought in. The new overseer, reluctant to use extreme force, was faced with the difficult task of restoring the plantation regime. He was neither feared nor respected and was unsuccessful in compelling the slaves to go back to work. Windberg remained in a state of disorder until the landfoged (island administrator) intervened on the overseer's and owner’s behalf.

Fredriksdal
Fredriksdal

Fredriksdal
Fredriksdal was named for Frederick Von Moth who lived on St. Thomas. He purchased the property from Reimert Sødtmann, magistrate of St. John in the early 1730s. (Sødtmann and his stepdaughter were among the first victims of the slave rebellion in 1733.) Von Moth was commander of the civil guard on St. Thomas and later became governor of St. Croix.

The grand entrance and stairway of the Fredriksdal Ruins are the remains of the estate house, which served as living quarters for the owners of Annaberg Plantation and are visible from the road. There are extensive ruins extending back into the bush. They include the remains of an oven, a well, a horsemill and other old structures and walls.

The area is covered with sweet lime and other thorny vegetation, so wear appropriate clothing to explore.

Windberg Ruins
Old Stone Bridge

 

Old Stone Bridge
Across the road from the Fredriksdal Ruins is a seldom used trail that was once part of the Old Danish Road. It leads to a fairly well preserved stone bridge that is almost hidden in the thick bush.

 

Old Danish Road
Annaberg School Trailhead

The Annaberg School
The Annaberg School was one of the Caribbean's oldest public school houses. The partially restored building, sometimes referred to as the Mary Point School, can be reached by means of a short (0.2 mile) well maintained trail, which begins off the North Shore Road about thirty yards from the intersection of the Leinster Bay Road. The structure was stabilized in 1987 through the efforts of the the St. John Historical Society who also provided the informational exhibit. In 2006 volunteers again cleared bush, improved the trail and dedicated a new informational plaque.
More information about the Annaberg School