Originally connected to St. Thomas Island by an isthmus, Hassel Island forms the western edge of St. Thomas Harbor. The Danish government first separated Hassel Island from the main island in 1860, and in 1919, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers widened the channel. The Hassel Island Historic District includes the entire island and contains the ruins of early 19th-century English fortifications and of mid-19th-century shipping and coal stations. Ruins include Fort Shipley, or "Shipley's Battery," an important remnant from Britain's occupation of St. Thomas Island during the Napoleonic Wars (1801-1815), when Denmark had allied with Napoleonic France. British forces constructed Fort Shipley on the highest point of the then peninsula. Directly behind "Shipley's Battery" sit the remains of "Creques Marine Railway," constructed in the 1860s by the Orkanshullet Island Coal and Oil Fuel depot.
The Hassel Island Historic District is located on Hassel Island south of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Much of the island is part of Virgin Islands National Park, and are open 24 hours a day year-round. Fort Willoughby and Creques Marine Railway on the island have also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record.