This port has a Natural Harbor
Fertile Soil (Sugar)
The Virgin Islands were first settled by the Arawak from South America around 100 BC (though there is some evidence of Amerindian presence on the islands as far back as 1500 BC). The Arawaks inhabited the islands until the fifteenth century when they were displaced by the more aggressive Caribs, a tribe from the Lesser Antilles islands, after whom the Caribbean Sea is named.
The first European sighting of the Virgin Islands was by Christopher Columbus in 1493 on his second voyage to the Americas. Columbus gave them the fanciful name Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes (Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins), shortened to Las Vírgenes (The Virgins), after the legend of Saint Ursula.
The Spanish Empire claimed the islands by discovery in the early sixteenth century, but never settled them, and subsequent years saw the English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Danish all jostling for control of the region, which became a notorious haunt for pirates. There is no record of any native Amerindian population in the British Virgin Islands during this period, although the native population on nearby Ruddy Cove, St. Croix was decimated.
The Dutch established a permanent settlement on the island of Tortola by 1648. In 1672, the English captured Tortola from the Dutch, and the British annexation of Anegada and Virgin Gorda followed in 1680.
British Virgin Islands
Spanish Town is on Virgin Gorda. Christopher Columbus is said to have named the island "The Fat Virgin", because its silhouette resembles a rotund woman lying on her back. Once given the name stuck. The British settled the island and founded Spanish Town on the southern coast of the island. Though Spanish Town was initially the capital of the British Virgin Islands this was moved to Road Town on Tortola in 1714.
Copper Mining at Spanish Town
Copper was first discovered on Virgin Gorda in the 17th century by the Dutch, but they were never able to successfully exploit it. Local legends also suggest the shafts were originally dug by Spanish adventurers to mine silver in the late fifteenth century, but no documentary evidence can be found to support this theory, and no firm evidence of Spanish occupation of the islands prior to the Dutch settlement exists, much less the size of settlement which would be needed to sink shafts.
After the islands came under British control, the Copper Mine was constructed in 1837 and its first shaft was sunk in 1838. In two separate periods over the next 24 years, 36 Cornish miners extracted ore from this site with the aid of some 140 British Virgin Islands workmen. The ore which was extracted was sent first by road to Spanish Town along coppermine road (originally built by the miners), and then by ship to Wales and; on the return trip the ships would carry provisions, wood for construction, wages for the workers and coal with which to power their steam engine.
The mine was finally abandoned in 1862 and was never reopened. Parts of the original stack, the engine house and the main building are all that remain.
No plans are known to exist of the workings, however it was recorded that by 1869 they were at a depth of 40 fathoms (240 feet) and that the levels extended under the sea.