Sunday, April 30, 2017, 6:30 am: Hike to Manning Bay

General info for all hikes and walks: Hikes and walks are $5 for members, and $10 for non-members (become a member). Unless otherwise noted, the pace for hikes is moderate, lasting 3-5 hours, covering 3-5 miles, the terrain is hilly, footing is sometimes uneven, and we follow trails and possibly paved or dirt roads . Walks are easier and shorter than hikes, and usually follow paved or dirt roads, no trails. The guide may periodically stop and talk along the way. Bring sturdy, comfortable walking or hiking shoes, water, snack, bug spray, rain poncho, and camera. Shorts or long pants are OK. For day hikes, bring a hat and sun block. For night hikes, bring a small flashlight. There are usually about 20 people. We depart about 30 minutes after the posted start time. For some hikes, we will meet at the indicated location, then drive a short distance to the hike location.

Specific info for this hike: This coastal hike is on the south shore, mostly on a dirt road. There will be mangroves and probably mud and wading through water, so wear appropriate shoes and attire. Bring swimming attire if you want to swim. The hike will take about 3.5 hours and cover about 3.5 miles. Mclean and Cathy will be our guides.

Hikers may encounter manchineel tree, jack spaniels (a type of wasp), and stinging nettle. If you are allergic, please bring your meds.

Driving directions: Meet on Airport Road near Websta's hanger, about 0.6 miles west of the airport's main entrance. Park on either side of the road, between the two large mahogany trees.

See the meeting spot on Google Maps

Additional info:

The Danes divided the island of St Croix into nine quarters. Estate Manning Bay fell in the Prince Quarter. In 1736, Johnannes Lorentz established a plantation in this area that was occupied by 56 enslaved Africans. By 1794, this large sugar plantation had taken the name"Manning's bay or Manning's Negro Bay.

According to historical records only part of the estate was cultivated due to the marshy land character. The growing of cane is this estate continued into the 20th century. 1904, a racetrack was constructed within the Manning Bay estate. There is a wetland directly behing the racetrack that supports about 72 species of birds, 16 of which are considered threatened or endangered in the Virgin Islands. The seawater along the coastline of Manning Bay is polluted due to the development of the industrial complex, the landfill, and the dumping of sewage.

As we start the hike, and you look out to sea you will notice the remains of an old sunken barge, and old Navy fuel line, which is the remnants of the old Navy dock.

Between 1748 and 1751, Ralph Payne and Alexander Cooper acquired the property. In 1750, Cooper established a settlement near the center of the property and was growing cotton. By 1754, Payne and Cooper had shifted to sugar production and had erected an animal mill. By 1767, a wooden windmill had been built. Sugar was cultivated until the 1920's. In 1916 1924, the property was given over to livestock grazing, and a small amount of land was devoted to cotton. The entire shoreline land from Manning Bay to the entry to Estate Enfield Green range from uplands mixture of dry scrub vegetation and dry forest to mangrove forest. By 1750 all the property or large lots had been united under the ownership of Robert Steward who had 85 enslaved Africans engaged in sugar production. Two settlements were established on the property, on located in the center of the land, and the second to the south with an animal mill. In 1770's, Samuel Thompson and his father Thomas Thompson, who named it "Betty's Hope", acquired Stewart's property, which comprised of 475 acres. The area remained occupied until the 1930's.

Another prehistoric archaeological site has been reported in the area of Estate Betty's Hope slave quarters. From Estate Betty's Hope, you will come upon Estate Enfield Green shore. On the right is a dirt road that leads to the airport road, on the left are residential homes. As you hike on the dirt road, you will see the Texaco facility that lies adjacent to Estate Enfield Green. At the end of the dirt road, there is an old historic Watch House. Enslaved African used to stay inside the structure and watch the cane field for any sign of fire.

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