Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten
2006 Gerald Singer
The trail to the Rustenberg Ruins begins about 200 yards west
of the head of the Cinnamon Bay trailhead on Centerline Road.
Park your vehicle off the road across from the Cinnamon Bay
trailhead and walk up Centerline Road to the Rustenberg Trail,
which leads south and will be on your left.
The quarter-mile trail to the Estate Rustenberg Ruins leads
through a shady forest environment with no hills to negotiate.
The trail and the ruins are not regularly maintained by the
sugar boiling cauldron and bay rum leaves
The aroma of bay rum permeates the area provided by the many
mature bay rum trees growing along the trail.
Once you arrive at the ruins there will be spur trails leading
to various parts of the old plantation and sugar works. Look
for the remains of the horsemill with the storage room built
into the horsemill's stone retaining wall.
The sugar boiling room is right next to the horsemill, and
the old coppers and boiling benches are still in evidence.
Nearby is the cooling cistern for the rum still.
Rustenberg was one of the original twelve plantations located
within the Reef Bay Valley. Two parcels of 150 acres each were
distributed to Jacob Magens in 1718. Magens brought coffee
plants to St. John, and Rustenberg was the first plantation
on the island to grow coffee. During the early eighteenth century,
Estate Rustenberg produced cotton, cocoa and coffee, in addition
to sugarcane. Towards the latter part of the same century,
the emphasis shifted to sugar production, and by 1767, the
vast majority of the plantation acreage was devoted to sugar
During the nineteenth century, the profitability of sugar
was declining on St. John and Rustenberg, like many other sugar
plantations on the island, began to phase out production. A
hurricane in 1867 was the last straw, and sugarcane was no
longer grown at Rustenberg.
During the first part of the twentieth century, the area around
Rustenberg experienced a brief economic comeback by growing
and harvesting bay rum.