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Columbus Landing Site

Photo from the National Historic Landmarks Collection

This Salt River Bay site is the only known place where members of Columbus's expedition set foot on what is now U.S. territory, and was the site of the first armed clash between Europeans and American natives. On November 14, 1493, on his second voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus sent a party of men ashore on St. Croix. Entering a deserted Carib village, the Spanish found a small group of Taino captives who agreed to acompany the Spanish to their ship. While returning, the Spanish encountered a canoe with a Carib war party which the Spanish tried to capture. In the ensuing fight one of Columbus' men was wounded by an arrow; several days later he died. The Spanish overturned the canoe, captured the occupants, and sent them to Spain. The area around the Salt River contains the remains of some 1500 years of Saladoid (Igneri), Ostinoid, Taino, and probably Carib occupation. During the Taino occupation, the area served as the seat of a chiefdom, which contained an important religious structure, and a ball and dance court. Over 100 years of archeological investigations have demonstrated that the Salt River area was the focus of the most extensive and intensive prehistoric occupation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Columbus Landing Site, a National Historic Landmark, is located within the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, approximately four miles west of Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Until there is a visitor contact station at Salt River Bay, information may be obtained at Christiansted National Historic Site. You can also contact the St. Croix Environmental Association; call 340-773-3663 or visit the website.


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