Backtime Descriptions of St. John

cruz bay park
Cruz Bay Park 1975 – photo by Hannele Koivumak

A Description of St. John Written in 1925
“It is overgrown with herbage for cattle, with open woods of aromatic trees, thronged with beautiful birds. Views from breezy hilltops are unrivaled for magnificent panoramas of vividly green isles, countless beaches of cream- white sand, glittering surf, dark blue or green sea, and bright blue sky. Nature invites riding, hunting, fishing, bathing, boating and a free wild life. On ruined estates all over the island are old cannon, relics of days when buccaneers hid in the land-locked bays from French and Spanish cruisers. Regular communication with St. Thomas is maintained by several sloops.”
From the Geographic Dictionary of the Virgin Islands, compiled by J.W. McGuire for the Department of the Navy. The price of the book in 1925 was 25 cents.

 Development on St. John – A 1937 Perspective
“Several new roads were being cut up the hillsides and Agnes (Sewer) told us that Paul (Boulon) was beginning to erect a few cottages (at Trunk Bay) to rent to winter visitors; we knew he had the plan in mind but, at last, he was putting it into action…. Tourists were coming. Nice tourists, probably… but to our way of thinking, even five more white people on the north shore would destroy that splendid something that had made St. John a paradise and given us the two happiest years of our lives. The coming exploitation was inevitable, and it would be a good thing for a batch of black people who were very close to our hearts and for the white people that came, it would be marvelous. But for us it was ruined.”
From Escape to the Tropics, by Desmond and Bet Holdbridge, published in 1937.

 A Description of St. John Written in 1967
“…St John today looks very much as it must have looked to Columbus in 1493-green densely clad mountaintops rising steeply from the sea, with only an occasional glimpse of houses to spoil the illusion that the island is uninhabited. The two principal communities are Cruz Bay, the main port of entry, and Coral Bay. The total population is presently about 800, of which some fifty are Continentals who have made St. John their home.

The machine age came to St. John in 1948 when the first jeep was brought over from St. Thomas on a sloop. Now there are about forty jeeps on the island and a few dozen trucks. The island’s donkey population, after centuries of burden-carrying over the mountain roads, is virtually in retirement, except for those owned by families living in remote places where Jeeps still cannot go. Tourism is the main business of the island now, and the attractions of ready cash at the end of each week are more compelling to the islanders than the small gardens charcoal burning, and fishing of the past.

There are still elderly people who remember hearing their fathers talk of their days in the cane fields and who themselves remember the days of the Danes. The names of the old plantations – Carolina, Lameshur, Annaburg, Adrian-remain as constant reminders of the past. And the island itself, so long forgotten, has become a more important dot on the maps of the West Indies as one of the most distinctive of our national parks…”

This description of St. John was written by Ronald A. Morrisette, for the booklet, A Little Guide to the Island of St. John published by Caneel Bay Plantation. The booklet was sold at the Caneel Bay Gift Shop for $1.25.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Aqua Bistro
Lauren Jones
3:30 – 6:30
776-5336

High Tide
Steel Pan
Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00
714-6169

Ocean Grill
David Laabs
6:30 – 9:30
693-3304

Shipwreck Landing
Hot Club of Coral Bay
6:30 – 9:30
693-5640

Sun Dog
Sunday Night Jam
6:30 – 9:30
693-8340

St. John Weather

Isolated showers. Sunny, with a high near 77. East wind 17 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

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