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West Indies Laboratory Ruins

 

OhioGuy
 OhioGuy
(@OhioGuy)
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July 24, 2004 5:43 pm  

I went into what's left of the West Indies Laboratory buildings on the far east end of St. Croix across from the yacth club and Tague Bay. It was once a fairly prestigeous college that focused largely on marine biology. Hugo damaged it and the island on September 17, 1989.

I pulled in and was greated by Jimmy, the stinky black dog (he has a collar). Apparently, he guards the place during the day when the gate is open. Someone closes it at night.

Jimmy and I first went into the front office. Most of the desks and filing cabinets are empty, but I did find one desk with a bunch of checkbooks, records, and related office materials. Termite trails are all over the place, and it's very musty with mold or mildew. I went from office to office and very slowly opened each door. You never know what's going to fly out at you. Most of them are pretty cleared out.

Then Jimmy and I went over to a covered breezeway that used to have exhibits. Near this is the cafeteria. Strewn around are a buffet, ice machine, a pile of propane tanks, a pay phone on the floor, and a totally rusted old stove with the trade name Vulcan. A lot of light gets in there because the roof is half gone. There's an ajoining laundry room with a rusty dryer.

In all, there are about a dozen buildings. It must have been well landscaped at one time because there are still nice coconut palms, crotons, Ixoras, cycads, Bouganvillias, and a black olive tree. Someone still mows the grass.

I took a souvenier. It's a stack of order forms running from 1/13/85 to 8/21/90. The last order before Hugo is dated 9/15 and is for books. Then nothing was ordered for two-and-a-half weeks. The first order after Hugo was on 10/5 and was for bod bottles. I assume this has something to do with clean water. Also ordered were GF/C filters and chemicals, presumably for cleaning up the mess. The last order, made in August 1990, was for software that was probably never used. I read that the faculty and students had the place cleaned up and repaired after Hugo, but funding to keep the school open fell through.

As I pulled out onto the road, Jimmy came running up alongside of the car, barking ferociously. Maybe he didn't want me to leave, or maybe he's just a very poor guard dog. I'll have to go back and see my new friend sometime and give him a hot dog. Then maybe he won't bark at me any more.


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Island Paul
(@Island_Paul)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 484
July 24, 2004 8:35 pm  

My my my - another adventure from STX Guy! (new handle gonna stick soon???)

I do hope you are writing all this down and are thinking about a book! I am quite serious, you are a tremendous writer and it's really neat stuff you've been finding. As I said before, when you get to the book stage, you'll need to hire me to come over to St.Croix for a couple of days to actually wander around to the various spots and photograph them to further document your discoveries.

I had a story about my first visit to the beach just up the ocean from the property where I live. Nice sandy beach, thought I'd go for a swim. There used to be a resturant/bar here but it was destroyed by hurricane Marilyn I'm told. So the building is a shambles. I approached the property from the road, walking along a winding path, no one else around or within earshot. Or so I thought. I can't write all that happened here, as it was more than bizzare. Suffice it to say that when I stepped around the end of a large semi-trailer (used to haul away the trash from the site), I came face to face with a man. Before the afternoon was over I realized that he was carrying a machette and decided that going alone to a spot like this - in broad daylight - might take some thinking before venturing out again. It has been suggested to me that I not go alone to Linquist Beach.........so Ohio Guy.........not sure if you need to be aware, but!!!! .... Fore warned is fore-armed.


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OhioGuy
 OhioGuy
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July 24, 2004 10:41 pm  

I felt pretty safe with stinky dog. Maybe someday he'll figure out how to bark when someone goes in rather goes out.

Yes, I'll keep the photography idea in mind.


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Paula
 Paula
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July 29, 2004 3:49 am  

Island Paul,

Where is Lindquist beach? It sounds familiar, but I can't place it. From the way you describe your experience it sounds like you might have been trying to walk around the ruins of the beachside restaurant and pool at St. Croix by the Sea that was destroyed by one of the hurricanes. We were there this spring and thought about walking down the winding road to get to it to see the damage, but talked ourselves out of it. Now that we're back home I'm wishing we'd gone ahead and looked around. We had such good times there years ago. Someone said they walked all around down there with a big stick because they'd been warned about a pit bull guard dog... but didnt see one.

Paula


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Iris Richardson
(@Iris_Richardson)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 315
July 30, 2004 7:26 pm  

My husand went to school there for a semester about 17 years ago. He was sad to see the place. We just visited STX 2 weeks ago. Sad thing is that the ruins will remain. So far nobody local seem to think that the contessa will improve the site or sell it.

He did mention that the school kept a garden.

Iris


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HipCrip
(@HipCrip)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 545
July 30, 2004 8:04 pm  

OG..

Please, please keep writing about your exploration of your new island home. Even though I now live here, I won't ever be able to visit most of the amazing sites and unique places you've ventured to off of the beaten path. Your descriptive essays make me feel as though I've left my wheelchair behind to walk along with you as you take in these wonderful sites. Thank you for painting the vivid imagery that allows me to better know parts of the island that I can't experience firsthand.

L:ike several others,. I hope you choose to adopt the identity of STXGuy -- having the appreciation for places like this have earned you that moniker.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

HC


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Island Paul
(@Island_Paul)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 484
August 1, 2004 12:44 am  

Linquist Beach is on St.Thomas where I live. It is around the bend from Red Hook on the way to Sapphire. From todays paper it looks like the govt has finally scored some points towards potentially buying the property from the developer that bought it - using the powers of eminent domain.

I still have not ventured to the beach so it remains a mystery to me.


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OhioGuy
 OhioGuy
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August 1, 2004 8:26 am  

Well, Island Paul, it sounds like you have an adventure ahead of you. The menacing man is probably gone, but why don't you take one of the neighbor's scary dogs along with you just in case? Then you can give us a report.


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Island Paul
(@Island_Paul)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 484
August 1, 2004 12:25 pm  

I was advised by Islander NOT to go to Linquist Beach alone. I shall take that advice although I have been very tempted to just pull of the road and drive in - I guess not it's not so much fear of what I might find on the beach, but concern my island car will not take too kindly to a road off the main road so to speak..........so alas, I'll wait.

OhioGuy - I guess you are not hearing the urging of many visitors to the message board, that since you are NO longer in Ohio that your moniker be something else????


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72LabRat
(@72LabRat)
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Joined: 5 years ago
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April 30, 2018 3:22 pm  

Wow, this is some old stuff. Did a search for the West Indies Lab and found this. I took my Marine Bio classes here on two separate visits in 1972 and 1973. Was a nice place, well equipped and had a constant flow of educators and researchers from some very prominent institutions including Columbia and MIT. The place was brand new when I arrived the first time, with lab space, dorms, kitchen and meeting place, boats and diving equipment. The personnel was excellent as far as the Instructors and the support staff. Ricky, our chef, was always happy to cook up anything we speared that day.
The lab was under the management of Fairleigh Dickinson University at the time but I think that changed in later years. I know Columbia had a lab to the east of Christiansted also during that time. The only job I was every offered in marine biology was at that Columbia lab and I unfortunately didn't take it. I found some details about the lab not too long ago that more than indicated the lab was influenced by some very political issues having to do with the Contessa and ultimately the lab failed. I have pics by air, land and sea (above and below) so if I see some activity here then I'll locate and post a few here, or at least a link to photos.

Tony


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singlefin
(@singlefin)
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Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 1016
April 30, 2018 4:19 pm  

If you type in “St. Croix by the sea hotel” on YouTube, you’ll find someone posted a recent walk through of the old place.
I surf out in front of it now, and have often wondered about what it must have been like back in it’s heyday. I’ve never actually been in it myself though, I’m always barefooted when I’m there and I’m not willing to risk it.
I thought the video was pretty cool though, I’ve only ever seen it from the lineup out in the water.
Like a lot of places on the island, it looks like another great location for someone to invest in.


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Scubadoo
(@Scubadoo)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 2416
May 1, 2018 12:35 am  

I surf out in front of it now, and have often wondered about what it must have been like back in it’s heyday.

Well wonder no more, the STC condo web site has some cool historical info and pictures on the old hotel, rebuilt after Hugo then destroyed again by Marilyn. That old pool is something else. It would be cool if someone redeveloped the site and restored the pool. Some day. I'm sure it would never be allowed new today with current DPNR rules. I drove down the back road in the pickup a year or two ago just to check out what's left of the old beach (no beach left) and pool. When the Zika stuff first came up a few years ago there was an article in the paper with a quarter page color picture of the old pool filled with green water and the trash washed in from the storm surge. It was a North Carolina news paper.


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singlefin
(@singlefin)
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Posts: 1016
May 1, 2018 6:06 pm  

I checked out the history page of the St. C condo website as you suggested Scubadoo.
Looked like an impressive place. It’s hard to believe that “Circa 1970” photo is the same place. So much white sand there then.
What’s really ashame is all the debis behind the waterfront area. Looks like years of illegal dumping going on back there.
Something tells me I’d never be able to sneak into those waves though if the place was still rocking like it once was.
It kind of all goes back to “careful what you wish for.” I guess.


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