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Introducing Black River

The capital of St Elizabeth and the parish’s largest town occupies an interesting median point in terms of tropical energy. A big city this may be for these parts, but a bustling metropolis it most certainly is not. At the same time it’s no sleepy backwater either – Black River may be off the beaten path, but there’s a buzz here, a colorful, open-air chaos offset by Georgian architecture peeling away in a state of elegant rot and buckets of liquid gold sunlight. The namesake river is a slow-moving slick of moldering tannins patrolled by straight-arrow alligators and boats full of curious tourists. Although most visitors understandably opt to stay in nearby Treasure Beach, a few people do use this town as a base for visiting attractions like YS Falls and the Appleton Rum Estate.

The town’s Georgian buildings attest to its 19th-century prosperity, when Black River exported local logwood from which Prussian blue dye was extracted for textiles. Locals proudly point out the Waterloo Guest House, which in 1893 became the first house in Jamaica to have electricity installed. The racetrack and spa that attracted the wealthy have sadly not survived the passage of time.