Three of the Virgin Islands were purchased by the United States in 1917, supposedly to prevent Germany from establishing a Caribbean naval base during World War I. The southern island of St. Croix was originally claimed by Spain, England, the Netherlands, and France, before being purchased by Denmark in 1733. The Danish West India and Guinea Company grew sugarcane on the island utilizing slave labor (until 1848), with slaves outnumbering the free population 9,000 to 1,000. The port town of Christiansted was planned by Frederick Moth and named in honor of Danish King Christian VI.
Fort Christiansvaern, Old Danish Customs House, Steeple Building
Fort Christiansvaern was completed in 1749 and is the highlight of this National Park Service (NPS) site. Pick up a self-guided tour booklet at the NPS visitor center so you do not miss any hidden corners, like the dungeon. Ask a park ranger about tours that may be available to see inside the other six buildings that comprise Christiansted National Historic Site. The Scale House was under construction during our visit, but typically has exhibits on its bottom floor.
There are no trails, but sidewalks lead from Fort Christiansvaern to the Government House (that is still used for official business) and the Lutheran Church, which is next to a sprawling and interesting cemetery.
The beautiful yellow structures were built in neoclassic style and are best exemplified by the Customs House, which dates to 1841.
Anytime except hurricane season
$7 per person or America the Beautiful pass
Roads are paved and there is a designated parking lot at Fort Christiansvaern with a two hour time limit. Note: you drive on the left side of the road in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but in standard American left-side driver seat vehicles.
There is no official NPS campground at Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, but people camp along the coast there and at many beachside locations around the entire island.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (Virgin Islands)
Buck Island Reef National Monument (Virgin Islands)
Virgin Islands National Park (Virgin Islands)
Explore More – What famous American patriot worked in Christiansted as a boy (Hint: he has a Broadway musical written about him)?