Johnny Horn Trail
Excerpted From St. John Off The Beaten Track
By Gerald Singer
There are four spur trails off the main trail. The first (starting from Waterlemon Bay) provides access to the best place to cross the channel if you would like to snorkel around Waterlemon Cay. The second spur leads to the remains of an old Danish guardhouse. The third trail takes you to the ruins at Windy Hill, and the fourth is the Brown Bay Trail to Brown Bay and East End.
Hiker taking a break at the Windy Hill ruins
He had a grimace for a face, lies for eyes, noes for a nose, arse cheeks for face cheeks, fears for ears, whips for lips, dung for a tongue, and to all who knew him it seems strange that he has but one horn for a name.
Historian, David Knight is of a different opinion. He says that the Johnny Horn Trail is a corruption of the original name, the Jimmy Horn Trail, named after estate owner, James Murphy.
Snorkeling access spur trail
View From Johnny Horn Trail
Leinster Bay Estate House (Windy Hill)
Entrance to the Estate House
The Leinster Bay Estate House ruins are about 200 yards down the left spur trail. The structure was originally built in the late 1700s as the estate house for James Murphy. Murphy owned a vast estate and from the hilltop where his estate house was located all that the eye could see on the island of St. John was part of the Murphy Estate, including Annaberg, Mary Point, Water Bay, Leinster Bay and Brown Bay plantations.
Gun Port in estate house wall overlooking the Sir Francis Drake Channel
James Murphy was a prominent Mason and the estate house was used as the St. John headquarters for the Masonic Lodge.
De Booy and Faris in, Our New Possessions, wrote:
Near by are the remains of a building occupied by the only Masonic Lodge on St. John. One can almost picture the banquets held by the Masons when they assembled here in the olden days, when feasts were of the first importance in the life of the West Indian planter.
In 1843, the estate house became the property of Judge H. Berg, the vice-governor of the Danish West Indies. Berg, who lived in St. Thomas, was also the owner of the Annaberg Plantation at that time.
When he visited St. John, he would reside at the residence he called, Windy Hill. Otherwise, the house was occupied and managed by a Mr. and Mrs. Wallace. Preserved letters from early travelers to St. John make reference to the presence of an extensive library at Windy Hill.
Before selling the remainder of his estates on St. John, Judge Berg bequeathed small plots of land east of the estate house to some of his employees. These employees and their descendants established the village of Johnny Horn. Remains of the old houses can be seen in several places just off the Johnny Horn Trail.
View to the West from Windy Hill
Luther K. Zabriskie, in his book, The United States Virgin Islands, gives this description of Windy Hill when it was a boarding house:
Leinster Bay, was where an excellent boarding house, for use by occasional visitors, was once kept. The storm of 1916 blew this house down. The wonderful old mahogany furniture that was the envy of all who came to stay here, was scattered in all directions.
From The Langford Mail:
Windy Hill was the private boardhouse of a Mrs. Clin (commonly spelled “Clen”). It was owned by lawyer Jorgenson and entirely destroyed in hurricane of 1916.
In 1917 when the United States bought the Virgin Islands, a reform school was established here. Mrs. Clen was in charge of the facility. Most of what you see now is from that period.
Hikers at Windy Hill with Tortola on the other side of the Sir francis Drake Channel
Brown Bay Trail
The Johnny Horn Trail continues straight ahead and the Brown Bay Trail is on the left. It is identified by a National Park information sign.
Brown Bay spur to the Moravian Church
The Moravians came to St. John in 1741. They established the mission at Emmaus (Coral Bay) in 1782. They are the oldest of the Protestant religions and were the first to minister to blacks. This is the fourth Moravian church to be built on this site.