The ruins of the Annaberg sugar mill are the best place to learn about the colonial-era life of both planters and slaves on St. John. The site, located at the far northeastern end of the North Shore Road, includes the ruins of a windmill, sugar factory, mill round, and slave quarters located atop a low hill. The National Park Service organizes cultural demonstrations here four days a week, when local artisans and bakers display traditional basket-making and bread-baking, among other things. There is a small garden with local vegetables and herbs. A short self-guided hike takes visitors through the process of sugar production at an 18th- and 19th-century sugar factory.
Annaberg is also a pleasant place; from the crest of the hill you will find lovely views of Mary’s Point and Tortola. During the summer, broad flamboyant trees bloom flaming red, and year-round this is a breezy and generally peaceful place.
Annaberg (Anna’s Hill) was named after the daughter of the plantation’s absentee owner, Christopher Gottschalk. Like all plantations on the island, the 518-acre Annaberg Plantation produced sugar, rum, and molasses. The windmill was the tallest of the five windmills on St. John, and the adjoining sugar factory was one of the largest on the island. Many of the remaining buildings were built in the early 1800s, but several date back to the 1700s.
Annaberg is one of two attractions in Virgin Islands National Park that you must pay to enter; admission is $4 for adults. Children under 17 are free. The ticket gate is usually open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily. If you save your receipt, you can enter Trunk Bay for free if you go on the same day (and vice versa). When the ticket booth is closed, you can still come in and walk around during daylight hours. Cultural demonstrations take place 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Tuesday–Friday. Call the Cruz Bay Visitor Center (tel. 340/776-6201) to find out what kind of demonstration is scheduled during your visit.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition