Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tales from the Road: St. Thomas, USVI

St. Thomas is one of the islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Credit for the island's discovery is given to Christopher Columbus during his second voyage in 1493, but was likely first inhabited by the Arawak and then Carib Indians. After that it became the home of pirates including legendary figures such as Blackbeard and Bluebeard. The deep natural harbor of what is now Charlotte Amalie was a particular favorite. In 1666, the Danes made their first colonization attempts for agricultural development, building Fort Christian at this harbor. The city of Taphus was the name given to what is now known as Charlotte Amalie and remained so until 1691 when it was renamed after the wife of King Christian V. The city was very important as a trading port in the late 1600's into the mid-1700's as a place where slavers, pirates, and merchants could anchor and trade. It became a free port in 1764. When steamships became popular in the 1840's St. Thomas became an important coaling station for ships running between North and South America. On  March 31, 1917, the island went from Danish rule to a territory of the United States to keep it from being taken by the Germans in World War I. They remained under U.S. Navy Rule until 1931, during which many major public works and social reform projects were undertaken The island has an elected governor since 1969 and holds a non-voting seat in the U.S. Congress. Currently, tourism is one of the biggest industries, the island is a popular vacation spot and cruise ship destination.

The view from my hotel room on the eastern edge of St. Thomas, near Red Hook.

*sigh* Just had to lay on this beach all day. Life is rough.

One of the docks in Charlotte Amalie.

Arrrr...pirates be anchorin' in Charlotte Amalie.

Doing some shopping in the historic district of Charlotte Amalie.

On the road back to Red Hook from Charlotte Amalie. What you can't see is me holding on for dear life as the driver whips around hairpin mountain turns.

Here are some good websites on the history of St. Thomas:
VInow's History Page
The Beach, USVI History Page
St. Thomas Visitor's Center Culture and History Page
Trip Advisor's St. Thomas History Page

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