Waterfalls of Jamaica: Sublime and Beautiful Objects

Waterfalls of Jamaica: Sublime and Beautiful Objects

Waterfalls of Jamaica: Sublime and Beautiful Objects

Waterfalls of Jamaica: Sublime and Beautiful Objects


Millions of people worldwide share a great fascination with waterfalls. In this first and only book about Jamaican waterfalls, Dr. Brian J. Hudson looks at the unique appeal of waterfalls, their portrayal in words and image, their roles in recreation and tourism, and their use as sources of mechanical and electrical energy.

Although this book refers to all well-known falls of the island and to many of those known only to a few, it is not a descriptive guide. Rather, it examines the aesthetics of Jamaican waterfalls and the problems of competing uses and excessive exploitation in the context of the wider issues of environmental conservation and sustainable development. In addition to thirty years of observation in the field, Dr. Hudson draws on extensive secondary research, including literature from the mid-eighteenth century to date, topographical writings, prints, photographs, films, guidebooks, tourist brochures, and official reports.


It is only in recent years that I discovered that many people share my great fascination with waterfalls. This popular landscape taste is evidenced by a variety of books about waterfalls of particular regions, usually published by small, obscure local presses, mainly, it seems, in the United States and Britain. My own love of waterfalls goes back to my English childhood, perhaps even to the days during or just after World War II when, as an infant, I was taken on walks through Riftswood, a local beauty spot near my native Skelton-in-Cleveland. Probably, it was on such a walk that I first became aware of the beauties of river scenery. I have vivid childhood memories of Skelton Beck, a stream that descends from the Cleveland Hills then winds through wooded ravines, before entering the North Sea at Saltburn. On its way to the ocean, the stream hurries between the tree clad cliffs of Riftswood, occasionally rushing over low rocky ledges, forming miniature waterfalls. For me as a small child, this sylvan river scenery possessed qualities that I later came to recognize as picturesque, even sublime.

Where the footpath, now designated as part of the Cleveland Way, crosses Skelton Beck beneath the towering brick arches of a Victorian railway viaduct, the stream drops almost vertically over what is basically an artificial waterfall. This is the little dam, built long ago to divert part of the flow into the headrace that led water to Marske Mill, since demolished. The place remains a treasured memory. It was probably here that I first developed my fascination with the sights and sounds of rivers, especially the broken waters of rapids and waterfalls.

Later, as a young walker and cyclist, I came to know some of the waterfalls of northern England, Wales, and Scotland. More extensive travel in adult life enabled me to see waterfalls in many parts of the world, some of them very famous, including Niagara, Victoria, and Yosemite. In 1967, my travels took me to Jamaica . . .

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