Cat Island, Bahamas

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District of Cat Island
Astronaut photograph of Cat Island
Astronaut photograph of Cat Island
Coat of arms of District of Cat Island
Coat of arms
Cat Island in Bahamas (zoom).svg
Coordinates: 24°25′N 75°31′W / 24.417°N 75.517°W / 24.417; -75.517
Country  Bahamas
Island Badge of Cat Island.png Cat Island
Established 1999
Government
 • Type District Council
 • Chief Councillor Kevin Brown
 • Deputy Chief Councillor Alvin Thurston
 • Island Administrator Jackson McIntosh
Area
 • Total 389 km2 (150 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,522
 • Density 3.9/km2 (10/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Area code(s) 242

Cat Island is in the central Bahamas, and is one of its districts. Cat Island also has the nation's highest point, Mount Alvernia (also known as Como Hill). It rises to 206 feet (63 m) and is topped by a monastery called The Hermitage. This assembly of buildings was erected by the Franciscan "Brother Jerome" (John Hawes).

History[edit]

The first European settlers were Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, who arrived in 1783. The island may have been named after Arthur Catt, a pirate, or the name may refer to its one-time large population of feral cats.[citation needed]

Historically, the island gained wealth from cotton plantations, but slash and burn farming is now the main way of life for Cat Islanders. An economic crop is Croton eluteria (called also cascarilla) bark, which is gathered and shipped to Italy where it becomes a main ingredient in medicines, scents and Campari.

Until written accounts were found, Cat Island was thought to be Guanahani or San Salvador, the first island Christopher Columbus arrived at in the Americas.

Demographics[edit]

The population of Cat Island is 1,522 (2010 census).[1] The main settlements are New Bight, Arthur's Town (capital settlement and childhood home of Sidney Poitier), Orange Creek, and Port Howe.

Cat Island was also the birthplace of famed Bahamian musician Tony McKay, better known as Exuma.

New Bight Airport and Arthur's Town Airport serve the island.

Landmarks and attractions[edit]

At the top of 206 ft Como Hill is Mt. Alvernia Hermitage on Mount Alvernia, the highest point in The Bahamas. This small stone monastery built by hand by the architect hermit, Father Jerome,[2] is at the peak and accessible by a trek up this steep rocking incline.

Just south of the Hermitage are the ruins of Armbrister Plantation.

Armbrister Creek flows into a clear lake called "Boiling Point" or "Boiling Hole" whose tidal conditions cause bubbles and burps, the conditions which lead to folklore of a sea monster below its surface. Rays and baby sharks can be found in the lake. In addition, numerous birds can be found nesting along its mangrove fringe.

Located in Bain Town is another lake. This 65 ft wide 10 ft deep lake called Mermaid Hole is said in local folklore to be home to a mermaid that lives amongst the 4 bed holes within that lead to underground caverns and passageways.

One of the major attractions in Cat Island Bahamas is the Big Blue Hole near Orange Creek at Dickies Road. The hole is very deep and it has a strong undercurrents flowing into the sea. Many objects such as dead farm animals tossed into the lake ended up reaching the ocean through its caverns. Local folklore says that a monster lived in Big Blue Hole that devours horses. This folklore is said to still scare local fisherman from venturing too far into this freshwater lake.

Dickie’s Road goes east to Griffin Bat Cave, once a hideout for slaves.

Sitting atop a ridge alongside the road in the settlement of Old Bight is St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, built by Father Jerome, with frescos, engravings and sculptures.

In the Port Howe area of Cat Island, are the ruins of an 18th-century plantation at Deveaux House mansion. It was given to Colonel Andrew Deveaux in 1783 for protecting Nassau from Spanish invasion and occupation.

In Knowles, there is a museum called the Columbus World Centre Museum. In South Bight there is the childhood home of Sir Sidney Poitier, Academy Award winner.

Places[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CAT ISLAND POPULATION BY SETTLEMENT AND TOTAL NUMBER OF OCCUPIED DWELLINGS: 2010 CENSUS - Bahamas Department of Statistics
  2. ^ Anson, Peter F. (Peter Frederick) (1958), The Hermit of Cat Island : the life of Fra Jerome Hawes, Burns & Oates, retrieved 30 January 2017 

Coordinates: 24°25′N 75°31′W / 24.417°N 75.517°W / 24.417; -75.517