Leinster Bay Trail
The Leinster Bay Trail is a flat 0.8-mile trail that follows the shoreline of Leinster Bay from the end of the paved road beyond the Annaberg parking lot to the beach at Waterlemon Bay. The Johnny Horn Trail begins just behind the beach and continues on to Coral Bay.
The trail leads right along the water's edge offering splendid and unobstructed views of Leinster Bay, the Narrows, Sir Francis Drake Channel, and West End, Tortola. Moreover, it provides land access to one of St. John's best snorkeling locations, Waterlemon Cay, the small island that lies just offshore of the beautiful little beach at Waterlemon Bay.
Before Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, the Leinster Bay Trail was passable by four-wheel drive vehicle. Now the road ends about halfway between Annaberg and the beach at Waterlemon Cay where there is parking for about four vehicles. From there you must proceed on foot.
The first bay you come to is Constantine’s Bay, named after the Constantine Plantation the ruins of which are up the hill inland from the bay.There is fine snorkeling alomg the reef that extends off the western tip of the bay. (For snorkeling details refer to St. John Off the Beaten Track.)
The Leinster Bay trail then leads the beach at Waterlemon Cay from where you can explore the ruins of the Leinster Bay plantation or access the beach at the east end of the bay.
Once difficult to explore because of the abundance of unfriendly vegetation such as the thorny acacia and catch-and-keep, the ruins can now be accessed with relative ease thanks to the combined efforts of the Friends of the Park, National Park archeologist, Ken Wild and students and professors from the University of Maine. Using funds donated by the Friends of the Park, the old estate has been cleared with the further goal of creating a computer-generated simulation of the estate.
Just inland of the Johnny Horn Trail entrance are the remains of a small residence. Archeologists have found evidence of at least twenty-six slave houses on the hillside to the east of the plantation.
Further back in the bush is an old water mill.
There are three more wells on the site. One well is near the brackish pond, and two more are in the valley.
Just past the water mill are the ruins of the storage house, the boiling room and the boiling bench where sugarcane juice was boiled down to produce crystallized sugar. Here you will see smooth black limestone tiles that look like slate. These tiles, made in Denmark's Gotlin Island in the Baltic Sea, are often found around the burning trenches of old sugar mills.
The ruins of the horsemill are behind the boiling room. Also remaining on this old estate are the gatepost, the rum still and the canning room.
Detention Cell built into the horsemill
History of Leinster Bay
Loison, unlike many plantation owners of the time, did live on the property. He married a woman named Maria Thoma. Jan Loison died in 1724 just three years after starting up the plantation. The widow Maria married Lt. Peter Froling who was the commander of Frederiksvaern, the fort in Coral Bay. Peter Froling was one of the characters in the historical novel by John Anderson, The Night of the Silent Drums.
The plantation was ransacked and mostly destroyed in the slave rebellion of 1733-1734.
The next owner was a Mr. Smith, and during his tenure, the estate and the bay were renamed, Smith Bay.
In the late eighteenth century, James Murphy a wealthy St. Thomas merchant and slave trader bought the Smith Bay Estate, who again renamed the plantation and the bay, this time after Murphy’s home province in Ireland, Leinster.
Karen Fog Olwig in her book, Cultural Adaptation and Resistance on St. John, University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL 1985, writes about an incident that occurred on the Leinster Bay Plantation in the early nineteenth century. It offers this historical insight concerning one of the methods of resistance employed by St. John slaves:
In 1818, at Leinsterbay Plantation a slave was punished so severely that he died as a result. Forty-seven slaves subsequently ran away and hid in the bush. Officials came to the plantation and tried to make the slaves go back to work. They were stoned and forced to flee. It took a force of thirty soldiers sent by the governor to end this rebellion.
In 1822, Hans Berg, a prominent and wealthy Dane and former governor of the Danish West Indies acquired Leinster Bay though marriage to an heir of Thomas Murphy. Berg also owned the Annaberg Plantation and several estates on St. Thomas.
In 1840, in what was the first major escape by slaves seeking freedom in Tortola, eleven enslaved laborers from Leinster Bay stole the estate boat and fled across the channel to freedom.
In 1863, Thomas Lloyd became the owner of the Leinster Bay Plantation, as well as the Annaberg estate.
In October of 1867, there was a devastating hurricane which was followed about ten days later by two severe earthquakes. Most of the remaining sugar plantations on St. John ceased to operate after that. Leinster Bay and Annaberg were devastated by the twin disasters.
Lloyd gave up any hope of restoring the property and left for Tortola without making any provisions for the future of the plantation or the workers. He left two hundred employees with no means of support whatsoever.
After emancipation in the Danish islands, the former slaves became employees. Their status, however, was not much better than it was under slavery. The laborers asked the authorities if they could stay on and work the plantation on their own. The complexity of the labor laws left them in a state of limbo. They could not leave the island without a passport and permission, nor could they simply leave and work elsewhere. Furthermore, the authorities refused to let them farm the abandoned estate. This incident, however, helped to point out, and eventually change, these archaic laws which were designed to maintain the plantation system and keep the former slaves tied to their estates.
In 1874, George Francis, the former manager of the estate, bought Leinster Bay after he returned from the Dominican Republic. He died shortly thereafter, and his widow sold it to the Danish policeman Henry Clen, who married a member of the Francis family.
In 1914, a man named Jorgeson bought Leinster Bay, and in 1920 it was sold to Herbert E. Lockhart of the prominent St. Thomas Lockhart family. He owned the estate until 1972, when it was acquired by the United States Government as part of the National Park.
The Lockharts used the property for cattle production. Members of the Samuels family from Coral Bay looked after the estate and the cattle for Lockhart. When it was sold to the National Park, the Lockharts abandoned the remaining cattle, which could be seen grazing in the vicinity until the 1970s.