National Geographic : 1956 Feb
232 Fritz 1Iene Thanks to a Philanthropist's Foresight, These Ruins May Spring to Life Again Laurance S. Rockefeller (second from right) has offered the United States some 5,000 acres on sparsely settled St. John. Bills to establish the 29th U. S. national park on the island are pending in Congress. Here, busy with blueprints of the Caneel Bay development plan, are George Starling, who until recently led a Baptist congregation on the island; Julius Sprauve, St. John representative to the Virgin Islands Legislature; and conservationist Frank Stick, who revived plans for the park (page 230). Henry Beebe (right) super intends construction of the project. Walls of Caneel's sugar mill rise in background. If Mr. Rockefeller's plans come true, park visitors may one day see the venerable structure restored to operation. offer. "There's no secret about that," he reassured me. "We've spent about $1,000,000 on land, and expect to spend as much more to finish the job. And $2,000,000 has already been spent developing hotel facilities, with considerable future development to be done. "We hope to get the land above Caneel Bay back into production, so that visitors can see sugar cane and tropical fruits actually growing. Eventually we'd like to restore the entire plantation area." This, I knew, would be in addition to im provements scheduled by the National Park Service. In Washington, NPS director Con rad Wirth had outlined to me the Service's plans provided St. John joins the ranks of national parks: a ranger staff, and roads and trails so that visitors can see the island in com- fort, plus a museum and trailside exhibits. As I turned to leave, Mr. Rockefeller ex pressed his pleasure that there would be an account of the Virgin Islands in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. "It's time Ameri cans heard more about these islands of theirs. "That reminds me of a story. I don't know that it's true, but it's pertinent. A plea was being made in the House of Lords; funds, it seems, were desperately needed for Britain's Virgin Islands. The speaker was building an eloquent case when a rural member inter rupted to ask where, exactly, were these little outposts of empire. "The speaker admitted that he wasn't sure. 'But I'm certain,' he volunteered, after a thoughtful pause, 'that the Virgins lie an ap propriate distance from the Isle of Man!'"