Posted on July 10 2017, by Els Kraakman.
Most charterers visit Virgin Gorda for its impressive “Baths” and then sail further to the Gorda Sound. For those who are interested in the history of Virgin Gorda, a visit to the Copper Mine on the southeastern point of Virgin Gorda is highly recommended. Not only is it interesting to see the ruins of this historical mine, the views from here are spectacular too! It is an easy drive or taxi from Spanish Town or the Baths.
Bring your camera, the site offers several spectacular northerly views of Virgin Gorda, Coppermine Bay & Taylors Bay, with beautiful turquoise waters and the small VG Airport. Facing south are Fallen Jerusalem, Ginger and Cooper Islands.
You can still see the chimney, parts of the 6’ diameter rusted boiler, the engine room and the 2 walls, where the flywheel used to be attached to. The water well is still intact.
In 2003 the Copper Mine was declared a National Park due to its importance as the only known historical site of this type representing the British industrial revolution within the West Indies.
History of the Copper Mine
The Amerindians were the first people to mine copper on Virgin Gorda in the 1400’s by digging tunnels into rock. The copper was used to make tools and jewelry, which was traded with people on other islands.
The majority of structures at the Copper Mine are the remains of mining activity by the Virgin Gorda Mining Company that operated between 1835 and 1862, shipping copper ore to the UK for melting. The mine was operated by approximately 200 people.
Around 1860, the shaft had reached a depth of 240 feet below sea level. The shaft was driven by a coal powered, steam engine known as a Beam Engine.
After 1862 the mine had varied history, as reports of other minerals such as molybdenum, gold and silver attracted miners form England and America. There was activity at the mine as recently as the 1970’s when exploratory drilling was undertaken.