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Ragged Island Salt Ponds

Cultural District
Ragged Island Salt Ponds – Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

These salt ponds are remnants of the island's thriving salt industry that was developed by Duncan Taylor and his brother Major Taylor, who came to Ragged Island from Long Island in the 19th Century. The salt industry, remnants of which can be seen in the salt ponds still providing a smaller scale export commodity for locals today, formerly existed on Ragged Island. Salt collection today is done to a lesser degree. The largest reservoir is owned by the Government and persons are employed to manage it. Other sections are family plots which are passed on to heirs.

The salt production process is very simple. Originally, there was an inlet from the sea to the ponds, controlled by dams in a narrow channel. Water was let in by opening the dams at high tide to flood the ponds. To make salt, the water was let out at low tide and closed after it was drained. Salt crystals would form as the water dried up.

Nowadays, the dam system is no longer used. Rain water settles in the ponds and salt forms as it evaporates. The ponds do not produce any salt if there is no rain. During harvest season (April through August), salt is piled in heaps using wooden rakes, left in rocky areas to dry, packaged for sale locally or sent to market in the capital, Nassau.

Acessibility Notes

Might not be suitable for someone in a wheelchair, because there is an incline leading from the town and the terrain of the salt ponds is sandy and muddy.

History of Area

Little is known about the early days of the Ragged Island chain, however, Ragged Island is believed to have been home to a fortress for the Spanish, signified by cannons that once guarded Gun Point and Salt Cay, the two main entrances of the harbor. On the western coast of the island, Blackbeard's Bay and Blackbeard's Well signify that the pirate may have established his headquarters near the well because of its unique location: "On a hill that looks over nearly the entire island."

It is also strongly believed that Christopher Columbus dropped anchor in the island chain on October 26, 1492, during his initial voyage to the New World.

The only settlement on Great Ragged Island was named "Duncan Town" in honor of Mr. Duncan Taylor, who, together with his brother Major Taylor, developed salt ponds for the salt industry. Narrow, winding shallow channels, together with the summer droughts, made ideal conditions for the production of salt.

Offshore islets and cays are packed with their own history. Just off the mainland, Pigeon Cay has a memorial cross constructed in honor of Henry Norris Churton, Bishop of Nassau, who died at sea when his boat capsized on January 20, 1904. A plaque at the bottom chronicles the tragedy.