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TOURS - Seaford Town | Montego Valley | Trelawny
Tour 10 - Montego Valley and Maroon Town
Excerpted from the book, Tour Jamaica, by Margaret Morris
A sign directs you L to ORANGE RIVER LODGE
about 1 mile to another Slidie Jo Witter enterprise. The hilltop great house
on a scenic 980 acre estate cultivating bananas, citrus, and coffee has
been remodeled and restored to provide comfortable accommodation for eco-tourists,
everything from campsites to triple bedrooms with private bath. The garden
is rich in shrubs and a variety of trees -starapple, guinep, tangerine,
mango, June plum, avocado, soursop, cedar, guango and Royal Palms. On a
hill overlooking the great house and its fine garden there is a new 24-room
hotel with swimming pool and tennis court. Eco-options include hiking, horseback
riding, river swimming and exploring.
Nearby, the remote district of SALTER'S HILL
is a farming community and the site of Moses Baker's Baptist church which
has been relocated to Johns Hall. Baker, a freed slave from Carolina in
the U.S. was preaching in Kingston before he was brought to St. James by
the Quaker owner of Adelphi estate to preach Christianity to his slaves.
Back on the main road into John's Hall there is an interesting stop L
at Calimento, a mini-nature park operated by Rastafarian "Ossie Dread".
Johns Hall like most rural villages straggles along the main road for a
mile or more. Proceed, steeply to SPRINGFIELD
with a large Baptist Church and all-age school and along the spine of the
hill to WELCOME HALL where the R fork can take
you through MOUNT HOREB and BIG
BOTTOM to CAMBRIDGE
and from there to SEAFORD TOWN (see Tour 9).
There are fine views over the MONTEGO VALLEY
as you proceed to KENSINGTON, the ex-sugar plantation
where the last slave revolt began. It was from this vantage point that the
signal for the start of the Christmas Rebellion was given: the slaves set
the trash house ablaze and the fire was clearly visible for miles around.
The event is commemorated by a plaque erected on the roadside by the Jamaica
National Heritage Trust which says: 'A freedom torch was lit here . . .
On Tuesday night December 27th 1831 the trash house on Kensington
estate was set on fire signaling the start of the last slave rebellion in
Jamaica when the slaves led by Johnson, Campbell, Gardiner and Dove forced
the militia guarding the area to retreat to Montego Bay. Over 50 estates
were burnt. In the reprisals 500 slaves were killed including Sam Sharpe
who had organized the slaves to demand freedom. As a result of the outbreak
the movement to abolish slavery was greatly accelerated.
On this route you may see dozens of uniformed schoolchildren, girls in
sky blue and white, boys in khaki on their way to the large MALDON
TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL which, like many schools in Jamaica, runs
two shifts. Turn L at POINT to Maldon where
there is also an interesting Baptist church founded in 1838, destroyed by
earthquake in 1957 and rebuilt within a year by the late Rev. Dr. C.A. Morgan,
pastor, politician and something of a legend in his lifetime.
MAROON TOWN is a scattered community of small
farmers. The largest business, and all-purpose shop belonging to the Chin
family is an unofficial community centre. Maroon Town was settled originally
by the remnants of the Trelawny Town Maroons. In 1739 by the Treaty that
ended the first Maroon War 1,500 acres between here and Trelawny Town (now
called FLAGSTAFF) were ceded to the Maroons led by the redoubtable Cudjoe.
The second Maroon War erupted in 1795 after the British had the temerity
to flog a Trelawny Town Maroon in Montego Bay for pig stealing. The Maroons,
invincible guerrilla fighters were defeated only after the British imported
bloodhounds and Amerindians to track them down. Their warriors were exiled
to Canada, the rest of them scattered and Trelawny Town became a British
army post. At Flagstaff, banana cultivation's conceal traces of the district's
sanguinary history: military graves and the foundations of a barracks. The
old parade ground is now a playing field. Amiable local farmers like Mr.
and Mrs. Wesley Read, Mr. Fred Gracey, Mr. Charles Chambers and his son
Nelroy will regale you with tales of old, pointing out landmarks like GUN
HILL - where the Maroons mounted a captured cannon and slaughtered a company
of British Dragoons as they filed into a cockpit now called Dragoon Hole.
Local lore maintains that 99 of 100 soldiers were killed there and the lone
survivor "went and told the Queen" that the British army would
never vanquish the Maroons, so she decided to use bloodhounds.
The (very unpredictable) road loops through Flagstaff past SHAW
CASTLE and returns to Maroon Town from where you can proceed
to ACCOMPONG (settled by and named after Cudjoe's
brother). You will travel around the edge, or through the COCKPIT
COUNTRY via FLAMSTEAD, GARLANDS, MOCHO, NIAGARA
and ELDERSLIE - through hilly farm country where
the banana is making a modest comeback.
At Elderslie, spelunkers should ask for Mr. Westin Thomas at the shop
in the square. He owns the WONDROUS CAVES at
nearby COOKS BOTTOM and can arrange for a guide.
The caves contain a stream and underground lake. At Elderslie, the L fork
leads to Accompong (see Tour Through Seaford Town to Accompong). If you
take the R fork through MULGRAVE and MERRYWOOD you are within striking distance of the large
IPSWICH CAVES (about
6 miles) and then YS FALLS (14 miles). The large
Ipswich Cave has three entrances, the most used being a tunnel up to 40
ft. wide and 25 ft high.
Options for your return route to Montego Bay include via YS , MIDDLE QUARTERS and NEWMARKET, via YS, GINGER HILL and SEAFORD TOWN, or via Middle Quarters to the southcoast and over WHITHORN HILL.
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