Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve
St. Croix, Virgin Islands
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Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve is a unit of the National Park Service on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It preserves upland watersheds, mangrove forests, and estuarine and marine environments that support threatened and endangered species.
It also contains the Columbus Landing Site, a National Historic Landmark that is the only known site where members of a Columbus expedition set foot on what is now United States territory.
The bay was the location of a Taino village and batey since the 1300s, until conquered by the Caribs in 1425. The Columbus landing site is located on a point at the western side of the bay. It is here that Columbus sent a longboat to shore on November 14, 1493, to explore the area and acquire fresh water and provisions. This was the first recorded fight by the Spanish with the New World native population, and they named the site Cabo de la Flecha (Cape of the Arrow).
The Dutch built triangular earthworks called Fort Flamand (Flemish Fort) near the site, which was taken over by the French in 1650, and renamed Fort Salé (Salt Fort or du Sal Fort after the governor). It remains the only known structure to survive from this early colonial period.
Salt River is home to one of two bioluminescent bays or bio bays on the island of St. Croix (a second bio bay can be found at Altona Lagoon). Every year thousands of people flock to see the glowing water of the Bio Bay that's created by a micro-organism.
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