image courtesy of Boston Public Library | Licence: Public Domain
image courtesy of Boston Public Library | Licence: Public Domain

Bridge over the White River, St. Mary's


James Hakewill

From the collection


Bridge over the White River, St. Mary's




From 'A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica' by James Hakewill (1778-1843).

THE White River rises on the North side of the parish of St. Thomas in the Vale, and its course in its greatest length forms the boundary line between the parishes of St. Mary and St. Ann. Passing Whitehall, Spring Garden, Halifax and Goshen estates, it is crossed, near Davies’s, by the bridge in the annexed Plate; it then passes Industry, and falls into the sea at White River Bay, about midway between Rio Novo and Ocho Rios Bay. About twelve miles from its source in the mountains, the river precipitates itself in a fall of nearly three hundred feet obliquely measured. So vast a discharge of water, dashing and foaming from step to step with all the impetuosity and rage peculiar to that element, exhibits an awful and pleasing scene. But the grandeur of it is astonishingly heightened by the supplies it receives in the rainy seasons; then—

⁠“Down it comes

From the rude mountain and the mossy wild,

Tumbling through rocks abrupt and sounding far:

Then o’er the sanded valley floating spreads

Calm: sluggish, silent; till again, constrained

Between two meeting crags, it bursts away,

Where rocks and woods o’erhang the turbid stream;

There, gathering triple force, rapid and deep.

It boils, and wheels, and foams, and thunders through.”

Nearly the whole parish of St. Mary is composed of hill, mountain, dale, and valley. The soil is in general a stiff clay in the higher grounds, and a considerable depth of rich, black, vegetable mould in the lower. It is universally fertile, the hills and mountains clothed with noble woods full of the finest and largest timber trees, and every spot is adapted to cultivation, except that the summits of some are thought too bleak and chilly for the sugar cane. The water is of extraordinary purity and wholesomeness, and the air is in general extremely healthful and agreeable to European constitutions.

The annexed View on the River has been selected not more on account of its pleasing sylvan character,—the Bridge being seen through its elegant frame of bamboos, and backed by mountains clothed with the richest forests,—than from its well-known form being so indelibly fixed on the memory of every one who has visited the North side.
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