How many of you have sat at Waterlemon Cay, looked up and noticed the set of ruins that sit high above the bay and wondered what the views were from way up there? I was one of this people for years, so earlier this week, I decided to go out and see them for myself … And I was simply blown away by what I discovered.
My goal Monday morning was to take a good hike, one I’ve never done before. So I drove out to Annaberg and walked the Leinster Trail out toward Waterlemon. The Leinster Trail begins right near the parking lot and winds along the shore. After about 10 minutes or so, you’ll hit the beach at Waterlemon. Just beyond that will be the trailhead for the Johnny Horn Trail. That’s where this awesome hike begins.
According to SeeStJohn.com, a super informative website created by Gerald Singer, the Johnny Horn was “named after Johan Horn who was second in command to Governor Gardelin in St. Thomas and Commandant of St. John around the time of the slave rebellion in 1733. He was the Chief Bookkeeper and Chief Merchant of the Danish West India and Guinea Company on St. Thomas. According to John Anderson in his historical novel, Night of the Silent Drums, Englishman John Charles, a former actor who became a small planter on St. John, said the following of Horn:
He had a grimace for a face, lies for eyes, noes for a nose, arse cheeks for face cheeks, fears for ears, whips for lips, dung for a tongue, and to all who knew him it seems strange that he has but one horn for a name.”
Hmmm, it doesn’t sound like Johan was well liked. Ok, but back to the trail…
Once you hit the Johnny Horn Trail, you’ll walk about 5-10 minutes up a steady incline until you reach an old Danish Guard House. According to See St. John, “this small fortification was built on this strategic location, called Leinster Point, because it overlooked two critical passages, the Fungi Passage, between Whistling Cay and Mary Point, and the Narrows, which separate Great Thatch and St. John. The guardhouse was equipped with cannons and manned by 16 soldiers.”
After you’ve checked out the Guard House, you’ll have another 10 minutes or so climb up a relatively steep hill before you see a spur trail on your left. That trail leads to ruins of the Murphy House and some of the most incredible views on the island.
From See St. John: “At the end of the 18th century, the Annaberg Plantation as well as five other contiguous estates came under the control of James Murphy, a wealthy St. Thomas merchant, ship owner and slave trader. The consolidated lands were called Annaberg, which became the largest and most successful plantation on St. John. From the estate house which he had built at the top of what is sometimes known as Windy Hill, Mr. Murphy could view the entirety of his vast holdings.”
And then after exploring the ruins a bit, I found what is quite possibly the best picnic spot on island…
So what do you all think? Pretty amazing, right?
The Johnny Horn Trail continues all the way out to Coral Bay. Click here to learn more about it on SeeStJohn.com.