Annaberg Plantation

Overall Rating

General Impression
 
5.0

Annaberg Plantation, as of 1780, was one of 25 active sugar producing factories on St. John. Other products produced at Annaberg were molasses and rum. Annaberg was named after William Gottschalk’s daughter and translates to Anna’s Hill. Gottschalk was the plantation owner. Slave labor was used to clear densely forested hillsides and to terrace the slopes around Annaberg to make farming possible. Slave labor was also used to plant, harvest and process the sugarcane. When slavery was abolished, plantations were divided. The 518 acres that were once Annaberg Plantation were divided into smaller farms.

Today the plantation ruins are protected by the Virgin Islands National Park and are open to the public. Trees have reclaimed the hillsides around Annaberg. A trail leads through factory ruins, slave quarters, windmill and other remains. Placards and signs along the trails describe how sugar was produced and discuss plantation life and the history behind sugar plantations on St. John and in particular Annaberg.

The windmill at Annaberg, one of focal points of the site, was built possibly between 1810 and 1830, and was one of the largest in the islands. Thirty four feet in diameter at the base and twenty feet at the top, the mill stands thirty eight feet high. When there was no wind to work the windmill, a horse mill would be used. The horses or mules were plodded in a circular motion; this turned the upright rollers in the center of the platform. Slaves passed cane stalk through the rollers and a box at the bottom caught the juice. The juice ran by gravity through gutters to the factory for processing. Three to five hundred gallons of juice could be produced in an hour.

The cane juice flowed first into a large copper kettle, where a fire was lit beneath. The excess water evaporated and workers would ladle the juice from one kettle to the next, down a line of five kettles. The juice eventually became concentrated through various levels of heating and evaporation. The concentrated juice was then placed in a box to crystallize. The crystallized brown sugar was then put in barrels that held up to 1,600 pounds of sugar. Early removal from the last heated kettle prevented crystals from forming however produced molasses that was used to make rum.

Some of the heating kettles used in the process described above are visible at Annaberg in the building photographed on the right.

Evidence of about 16 slave cabins were found in the Annaberg area. The construction of the cabins consisted of branches woven together with lime and a mud mixture. The roofs were likely made of palm leaves. The cabins deteriorated over time and are not fully standing; placards do indicate where the cabins were located and describe them.

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Awesome
General Impression
 
5.0

We visited annaberg the last week of February. We have been to the ruins in the past, but as we have experienced with each visit there is more information that we learn each visit. The staff that was on the day we were there were amazing. A visit to the ruins should be a definite destination for any vacation to the Virgin Islands. 

D
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Annaberg Sugar Plantation
General Impression
 
5.0

This is an interesting,well maintained, well staffed site which is an important reminder that slavery built the wealth of the islands.
Views from Annaberg are fabulous/

CM
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How to Determine Hiking Difficulty

Easy

Hiking
  • Little Gain
  • Short Distance
  • Fair Health
  • Trail Condition Good

Moderate

Hiking
  • Moderate Gain
  • Medium Distance
  • Good Health
  • Trail Condition Good

Challenging

Hiking
  • Significant Gain
  • Medium Distance
  • Good Health
  • Trail Condition Good

Difficult

Hiking
  • Significant Gain
  • Longer Distance
  • Excellent Health
  • Trail Condition Good

Use a Map

Hiking on St. John is a popular activity that lets you enjoy the tropical outdoors. We recommend using the St. John Trail Bandit Hiking Map/Guide to plan your hikes. 

Virgin Islands Nature

Hiking Tips

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Avoid hiking or swimming alone.
  • Allow for sufficient time to explore, swim and rest.
  • Remain on park trails – some trails cross private property, do not trespass into private property.
  • Wear cool clothing, comfortable walking shoes. Sandals are not recommended. Sneakers are your best option.
  • Protect yourself against the sun and insects.
  • Bring water and snacks.
  • Do not leave items or garbage on the trails. Make sure you leave with all the items you brought with you.
  • Do not remove anything from the park property; this includes but is not limited to shells, rocks, artifacts, flowers, plants and animals.
  • Pace yourself to prevent fatigue. Watch footing on wet rocks and trails made rough and slippery at times by heavy rainfall.
  • Do not eat unknown fruits, nuts or berries. Some plants and fruits are poisonous and can cause allergic reactions. Do not touch unfamiliar plants. Avoid handling or picking plant life that may harbor stinging insects, cause rashes, scratches or skin punctures. Many plants have thorns beware, look but don’t touch. Some ground covering shrubs cause severe itching – it is in your best interest to stay on trails.
  • Do not climb on fragile historic structures. Leave artifacts in place.
  • Hike early and return early.
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