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Encyclopedia > Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve

Salt River Bay is a living museum on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Prehistoric and colonial-era archeological sites and ruins are found in a dynamic, tropical ecosystem that supports threatened and endangered species.


In 1992 Congress created Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve as part of the National Park System. The National Park Service and Government of the United States Virgin Islands jointly manage this 1,015 acre (4.1 km²) park. The area’s blend of sea and land holds some of the largest remaining mangrove forests in the Virgin Islands, as well as coral reefs and a submarine canyon.


Salt River Bay’s natural history, its vitally important ecosystem of mangroves, estuary, coral reefs, and submarine canyon, has witnessed thousands of years of human endeavor. Every major period of human habitation in the Virgin Islands is represented: several South American Indian cultures, the 1493 encounter with Columbus, Spanish extermination of the Caribs, attempts at colonization by a succession of European nations, and enslaved West Africans and their descendants. More than a dozen major archeological investigations since 1880, together with historical research, reveal this remarkable story. Few places engage the imagination so completely, drawing visitors into the spirit of the place and its beauty and sanctity. You can help ensure that this park and its unique stories will always be here to inspire people about our shared heritage.


 
 

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