Hassel Island

History & Visit Hassel Island, US Virgin Islands. There is more history around Hassel Island in the US Virgin Islands then one would ever know.

A few facts: Hassel Island used to be joined to St Thomas until about 1860 by a narrow peninsula. The Danish excavated a passage to hopefully help clear up the dirty water in Charlotte Amalie Habour.

1 History & Visit Hassel Island. US Virgin Islands Looking over from Hassle Island to St Thomas. US Virgin Islands

Before it was separated it was called Orkanhullet (which means Hurricane Hole). There is a careening cove. Afterwards it was named Hassel (or Hazzel) Island after the family who owned much of it. Now about 95% is owned By National Parks, a bit by the VI government and a few private properties.

Before the Hassel Family owned it, Hassel Island had 10 recorded owners prior to its purchase by James Hazzell in 1784. One of those owners, Jacob Magens, his wife and his cook were murdered in their home on the island in 1773, and their collection of silver was stolen.

There were several forts and batteries on the island. Fort Willoughby was built by the English on top of Fort Frederick. Cowell Battery. Shipleys Battery. The Royal Mail Packet Company. The Hamburg American Line. A Leprosarium (!). Creques Marine Railway and more were once or a part of are still on this historic island. At Careening Cove a degaussing station was constructed.

This station was utilized to de-magnitize the hulls of submarines and minesweepers so they wouldn’t attract mines. You can, and we have, spent a lot of time exploring this island. The Hassle Island Preservation Fund and National Parks has done a far better job then I ever could at describing the sites.

I hope you enjoy some of the pictures that we have taken lately around the island. Yes, a lot of them feature our cat. She likes going there to walk to and is probably the main reason we have spent so much time there lately, although this island has fascinated us ever since we came to the Caribbean. This first bit was a Garrison House. Built after 1807. They have cleared a lot of vegetation around this site and make a nice little walking trail up to it.

2 History & Visit Hassel Island. US Virgin Islands

2 History & Visit Hassel Island. US Virgin Islands

Perched on the southeast end of Hassel Island, Prince Frederik’s Battery stands guard over the entrance to the harbor. This fortification combines Danish and British history.

First considered in 1767, construction was finally commenced in 1777 and completed by 1780, primarily as a defense against privateers. In 1802 British forces incorporated the site into their fortifications during the first occupation of the islands in the French Revolutionary War. They continued using the Danish site throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Under British rule the site was renamed Fort Willoughby. The fort still had cannons mounted in the 20th

4 History & Visit Hassel Island. US Virgin Islands

5 History & Visit Hassel Island. US Virgin Islands

This is walking in between the Garrison House and Fort Willoughy. Nice and clear. I love the dock by the Garrison House, some of its posts are made with cannons! There are a lot of cannons on this island.

Walking between the Garrison House and Fort Willoughby on Hassel Island. USVIWalking between the Garrison House and Fort Willoughby on Hassel Island, USVI

7 History & Visit Hassel Island. US Virgin Islands Walking between the Garrison House and Fort Willoughby on Hassel Island, USVI[/caption]

Cowell’s Battery is also by these areas. Built in 1800, this was converted to a signal station in the later 1800′s where it operated until the 1960′s.

There really is 3-4 distinct historic areas on the island, so I shall break this down into several posts. Hassel Island is one of the better spots to see in the islands in my opinion, as is often overlooked by the yachts and guests as they are so eager to get away from the main port and get out cruising, however, for anyone interested in history, it is a spectacular spot and has some very nice SCUBA diving and snorkeling in various spots as well.

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