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Navassa Island: A Photographic Tour (1998 - 1999)

Navassa Island Home
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Navassa map
Navassa Location Map
Explore Navassa - History
Phosphorite Mining, Caribbean Beacon

  book cover - 'The Great Guano Rush'
history of the "Guano Rush"
In 1857, the phosphorite on Navassa was mistaken for guano by a U.S. sea captain who laid claim to the island under the Guano Island Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1855. Between 1865 and 1898 almost a million tons of the phosphorite were strip-mined from the island and shipped to Baltimore by the Navassa Phosphate Co. The island was abandoned during the Spanish American War, but by that time it was firmly established as US territory.

The opening of the Panama Canal put Navassa in the middle of the traffic lanes between the Atlantic and Caribbean, and the Coast Guard built a lighthouse on the island in 1917. Global Positioning Systems eliminated the need for the lighthouse by 1996, and the Coast Guard turned Navassa over to U.S. Department of Interior on January 16, 1997.

History - Photo Index
    historic map
    historic sketch
Phosphate Mining
    mining ruins
    railroad bed
    rusted boiler
    railroad bed
    mining mound
    railroad bed
    keeper's house

Coastal and Marine Geology Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Navassa Island > History Tour

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Geology Program
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Page Content Last Modified: August 2000