A long, long time ago, the Lucayans were a tribe that settled on the island 7,000 years ago. The tribe traveled from South America’s Amazon up through the Caribbean before settling on Grand Bahamas with a population of 4,000 people.
Christopher Columbus sighted the tribe on the Bahamas Island in 1492, when the Spanish eventually overtook the island. Soon after the arrival of the Spanish the Island population became obsolete as the Spanish enslaved the Lucayans to work in the gold and silver mines in Cuba and Trinidad area. Since the Island have shallow reefs, ships would stay away unless shipwrecked.
Years later in 1670 the Britain’s claimed The Islands to seek religious independence from Great Britain. Colonies soon formed which brought famous pirates and their piracy tactics.
The American Civil War and Prohibition of Alcohol
Grand Bahama Island had been mostly abandoned until the mid 1800’s during the American Civil War. The Southern states eventually fell under an embargo on goods such as sugar, cotton and weapons. With the Southern Confederacy less than 60 miles away from the Island, the small population in West End took advantage selling goods at high prices and attracting residents from Nassau. As the civil war ended so did the Grand Bahama income.
With the prohibition in the US beginning, a new income stemmed for smugglers to distribute alcohol to the states. This movement created the birth of West End Bohemian warehouses, distilleries, bars, supply stores, and inns. The smugglers would sail off into the night towed the goods behind the vessel. Just as the civil war ended so did the prohibition, taking with it the Grand Bahama Island’s income forcing the smugglers to go back to fishing. The Bohemian economy would not pick up again until tourism rose on the Island.
The Birth of Freeport
During the time of 1955 Grand Bahama was one of the most underdeveloped of the Islands. An American had lived on the island for several years before realizing the Islands potential. After the bill Hawksbill Creek Agreement was made with the Bohemian government, Wallace Groves used his 50,000 acres to build a tourist paradise.
Grove enlisted the help to build a harbor and shopping center for the tourists. The after effects of war and the prohibition era created a booming economy. With the American border only 55 miles away, once paradise was built Americans flocked to the Island boosting the Bohemian economy.