Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Richmond Plantation continues
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 Material Information
Title: Richmond Plantation continues
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: November 28, 1997
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00178
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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Island Life

The Daily Neows, November~ 28, 1997

Richmond Plantation continues

This second article on the Rich-
mond Plantation will be focused
from 1834 to the present. Last week,
we learned how the Richmond Plan-
tation was demolished by the gov-
ernment. Also, wc discussed how
many slaves each plantation owners
own on Richmond estate and to
some extent the disappearing of the
mangrove forest along the coast.
In 1834, the Danish government
purchased 80 acres of land which
included the Richmond Plantation
for the purpose of building a jail.
The Richmond jail was completed in
1836. A wharf was also constructed
at the shore probably to service the
new jail. However, the Oxholn map
of 1779 does not show a wharf con-
nected by a road to the main settle-
ment of Richmond. But the Parsons
map of 1857 depicts a well and
wharf near the mangrove forest
shoreline in the uppermost northern
part of the Richmond Plantation.
The Parsons map also show a
shoreline road running through the
Richmond Plantation. Some histori-
ans believed the road between Little
Plantation and Christainsted seems
to have been constructed in the first
half of the 19th century because it
does not appear on any of the 18th
century map.
Nonetheless, the Danish govern-
ment is good in keeping records of
where they put structures. In 1876,
the Danish government built the
first sugar factory in the Richmond
area. The Richmond sugar factory
consisted of several buildings
including storehouses and worker
houses. An 800 railroad track was
also constructed from the wharf
west point to the Richmond factory.
This railroad track was used to
transport canes and other agricultur-
al products. In fact, the Danish gov-
ernment had once proposed to con-


struct a railroad track from Chris-
tiansted to Frederiksted.
The main purpose was to help
the farmers get their produce to
town. In this century, the Central
Bethlehem sugar factory had a
modern steam locomotive that carry
sugarcane. At the Richmond facto-
ry, there was also a water mill
which help process the sugar.
The Richmond factory operated
until 1928 when the collapse of the
Cruzan sugar industry shut down. In
the 1930's, the Richmond factory
was taken over by the Virgin Islands
Corporation. Eventually, the Virgin
Islands government saw it fit to con-
vert the site into a power distribution
plant. Today, the people of St.Croix
get their electrical and portable
water what is known as the Virgin
Islands Water and Power Authority.
Aerial photographs in 1972.
shows that the original central fac-
tory of Richmond site has been
drastically modified since the
1950's. While few 19th century
structures remain, many of the plan-
tation structures have been
removed, destroyed, or damaged by
the construction that they associated
with the power plane operations. In
the 1960's, spoil dredged from the
harbor was used to landfill along
the shoreline. And in one case, at
least one nineteenth century histori-
cal building has almost been buried
under the landfill. The once produc-
tive marine environment along the
coast is altered or changed forever.
This marine rain forest used to be a

major fishing ground back in the
1700's and even further back to
prehistoric time.
The Christiansted Harbor histori-
cally was called Bassin. Prehistoric
seafarers established several settle-
ments along the coast including
Richmond shores, on Protestant Cay,
and Altona an occupation lasting
from about 2500 to 1550 A.D. Some
historical records pointed out that
some time in the history of Chris-
tiansted shoreline was a major fish-
ing ground for indigenous people.
Since the 17th century, seaport
activities have been concentrated
along the harbor where Christianst-
ed town located today. I can only
assume the Danes saw the Chris-
tiansted harbor as a good area to
layout a town because of its port
potential for commences. The har-
bor became a major shipping port
but lasted until the 1820's.
During the peak, around the
1800's, many vessels as 1500 of all
sizes and nationalities dock into the
port of Christansted. After the 1820.
the flow of ships in the harbor began
to decline due to the declining sugar
economy. While sugar was not King
any more, the Richmond greathouse
remained a monument to the slaves
who helped build it.
The greathouse serves as a High
School. Also, it was one of the first
massive estate greathouse building
on the island. In 1952, Erik
Lawaetz brought the greathouse
with all the land around it. It was
also made into a subdivision. In the
1970's a fire destroyed furnishings
inside and a few weeks ago our
government demolished the build-
ing secretly.
Olasee Davis, who has a master
of science degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croix ecologist activist and writer.

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