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The Cannon at the Ferry Dock

Hello everyone! So I’ve been writing Islands Tidbits for just under three months now, and I see that I have so many more readers today than I did when I first started this blog back in September. (Thank you so much for reading!) So I figured I would re-share the following story, because I think it’s so interesting. And I think you’ll find it to be interesting too. Here is the story of the cannon at the ferry dock in Cruz Bay.

The bulk of people who visit St. John, or return to the island, do so via the Cruz Bay ferry dock. And as we do so, we pass an important element of our island’s history – a cannon that was previously located at Fortsberg in Coral Bay. The ruins of Fortsberg, an 18th century citadel fortress, are located on a hill above the eastern side of Coral Bay harbor. Fortsberg was the site of a successful slave rebellion in 1733.

This particular cannon was relocated from Fortsberg to Cruz Bay when the ferry dock was being built in 1838. At that time, it was placed with its muzzle facing downward and into the ground, a common practice during peacetime. The cannon was used as a hitching post for donkeys or horses. (The fort at Fortsberg was decommissioned in 1765.)

The cannon at the Cruz Bay ferry dock was originally placed muzzle down. Image source: Library of Congress

When the dock was remodeled in the 1990s, the cannon was placed pointing out to sea, which is culturally and historically inaccurate. The good news is that the ferry dock is set to be renovated once again, and local historians and residents are asking that the cannon be restored to its original position.

The cannon’s current position

In 2013, three additional cannons were uncovered on the beach in Cruz Bay. It is believed that they, too, were originally located at Fortsberg. The three cannons were removed at the time, and moved to a “secure place” according to a 2013 St. John Source article. It turns out that the “secure place” is just behind a building, but let’s hope that changes soon.

Three cannons were found on Cruz Bay beach in 2013. Image source: St. John Source

So the next time you’re coming or going via the Cruz Bay ferry dock, please take a moment to check out this cannon. It’s such an important part of the island’s history.



  1. Vicki Seichter

    Thanks Jenn. I just recently learned about Fortsberg while on the Reef Bay Trail hike with the Parks Department, (side note: the hike and ranger were FANTASTIC). If you have more info on the fort I would love to hear about it. Thanks for your great tidbits and Merry Christmas!

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