On early maps of St. John, Annaberg appears as one of the
first sugar factories. Molasses and rum were also produced.
Freedom for West Indian slaves in 1848 made these indus-
tries economically unfeasible and the plantations were di-
pastoral way of life.
The slave village lies at the foot of the hill, not far from the
parking lot. It consisted of 16 cabins, a small oven and gar-
dens where slaves grew fruit and vegetables.
As you walk up the hill you'll have to imagine the area as it
was then - covered by tall canes of sugar, resembling bam-
boo. The slaves had to cut the cane, remove the leaves and,
after tying it in bundles, load the cane onto a mule, which
carted it to the mill. Most of the mill, whose walls are made
of stone and brine coral, still stands, although the upper
wooden portion that carried the sails is gone. From this
point, look out across Leinster Bay to Tortola, only four
miles away. The promenade to your left is Mary Point ,
where several hundred slaves jumped to their deaths during
the slave revolt. Local lore has it that the water here turns
red each May.
Below the mill, you'll see a circle of stone. It's the outline of
the horse mill where mules, oxen or horses harnessed to
poles moved iron rollers which crushed the cane. The horse
mill was used when there wasn't sufficient wind. Each
night, slaves boiled water to wash these rollers since the
juice adhering to them would sour and spoil the next day's
batch. The Boiling Bench, where the cane juice was boiled,
still has a copper kettle. Nothing was wasted. They used the
drippings from the sugar juice to produce rum.
The Annaberg grounds are quite lovely, with frangipani,
sugar apples and lime trees. Well worth a visit.
The National Park Service offers a series
of cultural events here.