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Lakes at Moneague, Jamaica

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1811 Gentleman's Magazine

1811            "Gentleman's Magazine" Vol. LXXXI -- letter "May 31.  Mr. Urban, There has appeared, in different papers, and account of a strange phenomenon, observed lately in the Island of Jamaica, viz. The gradual formation of an immense lake, where, a few years ago, stood a very valuable sugar work, and other plantations.  -- The following letter from Kingston received some time ago, gives the best account of this astonishing event I have seen.

            Having plenty of leisure, I made an excursion about a fortnight ago to the lake of St Ann’s; which certainly is a great curiosity -- said now to cover 3000 acres of land, and still rising.  It is thus accounted for.  -- There used always to be a large piece of water, say 70 acres, a little from the Moneague, into which a rivulet called the Rio Ho ran, and on one side sunk into the ground with a kind of hissing noise: This subterranean passage appears to have been stopped from some unknown cause: The stream still continues to run, and the water, of course, to increase.  One sugar worker has lost 700 acres of good lands, it works, overseer’s and negro houses.  The tops of some are still visible.  Several proprietors have lost great part of their grass pastures, and have been obliged to dispose of part of their stock.  The surface being now so extensive, its perpendicular rising is not so visible -- perhaps an inch a week may be about the mark.  Some canoes and boats have already been carried there, and afford a pleasant amusement.  I took a swim over a fine Guinea grass piece, and got hold of a branch of a tree to rest, but it immediately snapped off, and compelled me to make for shore, almost tired: I could not swim one-third part so far in this water, as in the sea or a river: I never found any so soft.  All the trees within its surface are dead, and many very high ones covered over.  How high it must rise before it finds a vent, is not yet ascertained but it must be many yards, as hills surround the spot.  I fancy it is 12 miles from the sea.  Several ponds now appear, at the distance of half a mile or more from it, where never water was before.  These also continue to rise: I suppose the water must ooze through the ground.

                        In another part of the island, St. Elizabeth, some hundred acres of land are covered with water, where, in some years, the negroes and stock have been obliged to go 15 miles to drink: a number of springs have broke out where never before there was the least appearance: this at first was supposed to be in consequence of the very great quantity of rain that fell last year, but, when the rain ceased, the springs have not.

                                    Yours, &c. O.  H."

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