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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/506

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ance of riotous vegetation, only awaiting the directing hand to turn their fertility to use, were everywhere. Old sugar works and stillhouses, monumentally built of stone, still contained the massive remains of machinery which even the corrosion of the tropics had not yet wholly destroyed. And on each estate the splendid "great house," still splendid in its desolation, enshrouded in creepers and climbers, in clinging mosses and "wild pines" and orchids, stood an eloquently mute witness to the external grandeur of the life of the sugar planter of an earlier part of the century. And all these things are still far too common. But already the change is evident. These old estates are being rapidly taken up and cleared. The great houses are being renovated or replaced by new if less pretentious homes. Life and activity are replacing death and decay. One hears of thrifty men who have bought fine estates, renovated and equipped them, and established fruit plantations hundreds of acres in extent, at an expense of thousands of pounds, and from the profits of the first five years have stood free of debt and independent. These are not isolated or exaggerated cases; but they will, of course, become less frequent as the fruit supply increases. The pioneer in growing and shipping fruit has been a Cape Cod sea captain, who, trading among the islands, had the foresight to seize the opportunity when it was his for the seizing, and faith that Americans would buy all the fruit he could offer them. In twenty years his real estate and shipping interests have grown too extensive for a single man, and are now in the hands of the Boston Fruit Company, of whose Jamaica interests he is still in charge. This company now owns or controls over thirty of the finest fruit estates. in the island, from Morant Bay around the eastern end as far as Buff Bay. Jamaicans cordially recognize their indebtedness to Captain L. D. Baker for the present hopeful outlook for their island.

One of the largest and perhaps the most successful of the fruit company's estates is that called "Golden Vale," eight miles south of Port Antonio, its headquarters in the island. Here some two hundred acres of genuine "banana land" are now under cultivation, and the area is being steadily increased. A visit to this plantation will give the best idea of the details of banana culture. The road takes us directly away from the coast through the hills that come down to the very shore almost everywhere in eastern Jamaica. The fine government roads make driving a pleasure, and the magnificent hill views and wonderful vegetation are an unfailing delight. So it is all too soon that we descend the hills into the valley of the Rio Grande, pass through the plantation and settlement of "Friendship," on the hither side, ford the river with wheels hub deep in water, and enter Golden Vale. Thanks.