Location: 17°45’02.93″N 64°50’16.96″W

Bodkin Mill Base 20090716

Estate Bodkin is home to the highest Sugar mill on St Croix. At 960 feet above sea level, wrapped in a hairpin bend of Scenic Road West, it is a favorite of four-wheelers and a feature for Tan Tan Tours. If you are feeling adventurous, and you are wearing suitable hiking boots, you can find the ruins of the old sugar processing factory heading ENE down the hill towards Scenic Road. The date stone indicates a construction date of 1808.

Bodkin Date Stone 20090716

To touch on something more than just a little gruesome, and while I once thought it anecdotal, as is so much oral history, but both the Moravian missionary Christian Georg Andreas Oldendorp (1777) and writer Gordon Turnbull (1785) give accounts of needing to sever limbs of workers trapped in the mill rollers. One of the obvious design issues with the windmills is the lack of a clutch to disengage the drive shaft from the rollers, and the most dangerous job was probably the returns worker who fed the cane exiting the first crush point back into the second. Oldendorp and Turnbull give accounts of the need to keep an axe or machete at hand to sever the trapped limb, but then there is the need to cauterize the wound and stop blood loss. Apparently this was done with heat and a fireplace was maintained close to the bagasse slot, nearest to where the return worker would be standing, probably with a machete kept in the fire all the time the mill was operating.

This section of the diagram of the mill on Estate Solberg, St Thomas, shows a fireplace and a flue (red) channeling up to just beneath the mill cap.

One realizes the importance of the “dumb return” – the curved plate that was later fitted behind the center roller – to automatically turn the cane back into the second crush point, but nothing works 100%, so it may have exacerbated the issue.

Bodkin Fireplace beside the bagasse slot 20090716

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