ADITLO Maracas St Joseph
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A Day In The Life Of

ADITLO Maracas St Joseph

ADITLO Maracas St Joseph

History

The Maracas Valley in St. Joseph is known to be the first of the Northern Range Valleys to be settled. While the settlement of other valleys including Caura, Santa Cruz, Maraval, Diego Martin and Chaguaramas date back to the coming of the main wave of French settlers, beginning around 1785, the Valley of Maracas knew settlers since the founding of San Jose de Oruna nearly 200 years before.

Because St. Joseph stands at the entrance to the valley, this fertile stretch has not only been a place of estates for the early Spaniards, but also a quick and useful route to the north coast. Throughout most of the 18th century, Spain maintained a look-out here.

The first time this valley was explored must have been shortly after 1592. After the founding of San Jose, some of the early settlers followed the river up the valley, not only for opening estates, but to find the source of the tributary, which is none other than the Maracas waterfall. This cascades from a height of 340 feet to the valley below. The mountain peak had already been named Tucuche by the Arawaks, so the Spaniards referred to it as El Tucuche.

When the British captured Trinidad in 1797, they found the valley well cultivated and as one of the most productive regions in Trinidad. A survey that year showed that it was principally under sugar and there were 3 sugar mills, a rum distillery and four coffee mills. Its population then consisted of 22 white families amounting to 46 persons. 15 years of British rule saw the picture change sharply and the population doubled in 1811 with cocoa being the main cultivation in the valley.

In 1852, the warden of Maracas F.M. Gransaull opened the Maracas Ward School, one of the first schools in Trinidad. In 1870, the Roman Catholics built a chapel “the Chapel of San Miguel” which brought great relief to residents of Maracas, as they did not have to journey 5 to 6 miles to St. Joseph to hear mass, christen their babies or get married.

In the 1920s, when the main road was constructed it became a place of easy access. It was in 1927 when the Caribbean Union College was established for the training of young Adventists, many credit this as the start of the development of the modern Maracas. Many persons from the Caribbean and abroad came to see the work of the college, and some to profit from it.

The population of Maracas has always been scattered with settlements like La Sieva, Acono, Guarataro, Luango and others. In agriculture, Maracas, like many other villages has fallen from grace as no more cocoa, coffee and sugar plantations cover the area. The population grew significantly though over the years and descendants of some of the most influential Maracas families still live in the area today.

See the photo gallery for this trip

Amrit Maharaj

June 15th, 2016

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