Exploring the History of Crooked Island
Like most of the islands that make up the Bahamas, Crooked Island boasts a temperate climate, gorgeous beaches and sparkling-clear waters. This quiet tropical island covers only 71 square miles, and is part of Acklins Archipelago, a group of islands that surround a beautiful, shallow lagoon called ‘Bight of Acklins’. The history of Crooked Island speaks of legends, adventure, enterprise and an eventual economic decline; nevertheless, its residents display a proud and independent spirit.
After the abolishment of slavery, the plantations were basically abandoned, leaving the populace to fish and try their hand at farming on a much smaller scale; people relied on what they could catch in the sea and harvest from the land. Although sponge diving sprung up as a new and rather profitable industry, it soon tapered off as well.
Some residents of Crooked Island began harvesting the bark from a local shrub called the Croton Cascarilla. This unusual product was shipped to Italy, where it was used to flavor Campari, a famous local liqueur.
Another story states that Columbus called Crooked Island “Isabella” in honor of his Queen, but most now agree that Fortune Island, found just offshore, was more likely the recipient of that royal name. Its one lasting settlement, Albert Town, has been labeled a ghost town despite its remaining loyal residents. Fortune Point can be seen for miles, apparently making it the ideal ‘rendezvous’ spot for strange doings. Bahamians came here by the hundreds at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, awaiting seafaring vessels bound for Central America where they would try their fortune in the thriving labor market; hence, the way by which the island got its name.
Relics of the Past
With miles of beautiful sandy beaches, lush gardens growing through old ruins, and stories of hope and adventure, the history of Crooked Island makes a visit to this tiny paradise interesting, intriguing, and worthwhile.