Sapodilla Bay: History of the Islands Inscribed In Limestone
I was here.
They were here.
And they left their signatures behind on the rocks.
Carved into the limestone rocks at Sapodilla Bay, on the eastern side of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Island, are inscriptions and pictures. But this is no modern spray painted graffiti my friend; these are hand chiseled signatures that date back to the 1700’s. Taken together the names read like a directory for the early pioneers of the Turks and Caicos Islands. One of them is W.R. Inglis, 1854 who was the President of the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1854. There’s the name Oliver Mungen, 1869. Mungen was the United States Consul to the Turks and Caicos Islands from 1868-69. One rocks is inscribed with the name D.A. Harriott, 1844. The Harriott family were three generations of salt proprietors in Salt Cay which is north of Grand Turk Island. Their home the White House built in 1825 still stands today and is owned by Michael Dunn, a descendent of Rosalie Harriott.
Some signers on these rocks left no date, only a name. Some proudly displayed a picture of the ship they commanded or served. Others marked a symbol such as the British Broad Arrow to confirm property rights. Some wanted others to know their affiliation such as one who wrote the initials “T.P” with the Freemasons symbol beside them.
But these remarkably inscribed rocks have been the victims of vandalism over the years. The rocks have been covered with graffiti, destroyed or stolen. The Turks and Caicos National Museum has stepped in to preserve this important historical site. A project has been underway to photograph and make casts of many of the inscriptions as permanent records and for research. Some of the casts are on display in the Providenciales International Airport. And interpretative signs have been installed on the hill to explain the inscriptions and pictures as well as to educate visitors about park etiquette. This is all with a goal to maintaining the historical value of the site.
Sapodilla Bay is a secluded quiet beach, but the rocks on it tell the history. The signatures on them are a legacy.
Don’t forget me.
I was here.