" The drive of several miles from Moneague through the Fern Gully along the coast to Ocho Rios, the Roaring River, and St. Ann's Bay and then back to Moneague by another road, is one of the most beautiful in the world more beautiful even than the renowned drives along the Bay of Naples".
New York Evening Post, January 18, 1896.
View from Fern Tree Walk, Jamaica, by Martin Johnson Heade, sometime in the 1870s or '80s
Heade was a remarkable 19th century American artist, virtually forgotten for a century, but now greatly admired for his paintings of orchids and humming birds, especially from South America. He visited Jamaica in 1870. (another painting of Jamaica)
 The earliest reference to Fern Gully, by that name, that I have found so far, is in 1890; before that I have found other possible references, but I am not entirely sure that they actually refer to Fern Gully itself.

In 1869 the photographer, J S Thompson, appeared to be advertising a 'view' of 'Fern Walk', which perhaps relates to the same location as that of Martin Johnson Heade's painting of the 'View from Fern Tree Walk'. In 1886 a booklet listing Jamaican exhibits at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London included  which may also refer to what became known as Fern Gully, though there are enough references in various descriptive and travel pieces at the period to the 'Fern Walk' in the mountains near Newcastle to suggest that that is the location actually indicated. The location of Heade's painting would still seem uncertain; possibly the artist had created a location out of various sketches made while in the island.
 However, as I have shown on the previous page, the road out of Ocho Rios did in fact already have a name - Gully Road - which went back at least to the 1830s, when it seems ferns had not yet become the major feature of that section of the route to Moneague. The Handbook of Jamaica in 1891 still used that term when describing Governor Blake's visit to St Ann's Bay in 1890 to open the Local Exhibition, one of seven organised by various parishes in preparation for the International Exhibition in Kingston early in 1891.
 Then, in October 1890, the Governor, Sir Henry Blake, wrote an article in the Nineteenth Century Magazine, entitled 'The Awakening of Jamaica', presumably as a promotional item for the upcoming Jamaica International Exhibition in January 1891, which he was supporting with great enthusiasm. In the course of a panegyric on the island he wrote:

'It would be practically impossible to describe in detail the inexhaustible beauties 
of the  island. A vivid word-painting of that fern-clad gorge through which for some 
miles the road winds down to the exquisitely situated village of Ocho Rios, nestled around the sandy shores of  a small bay, whose waters, dancing in the sunshine, are 
coloured as only waters are within these tropic seas, would read like a glimpse of 
Paradise; and there is hardly a spot in the island where the eye will not rest upon 
some view that fills it with a sense of the fullness of beauty.'
 It is clear from this that the reputation of what we know as 'Fern Gully' was already well established, but suggests that the name 'Fern Gully' had not yet become established. It may be that there was the thought that 'Fern Gully' might have a more attractive appeal than 'Gully Road' for visitors to the island and guests at the new hotels being built in time for the Exhibition. In any case it was at about this time that the gully road acquired the name it bears to this day.
 But early in 1891, when the Exhibition was in progress, the Gleaner published this in an account of Mr. Adam Brown, Honorary Commissioner
for Canada, making a visit to St. Ann, using the term 'fern gully' without the capital letters:

Daily Gleaner, March 30, 1891
Mr. Brown desired to see more of our beautiful Island, and see as many prominent 
men as possible, he speaks in the highest terms of his trip and the kindness and 
hospitality of all he met. Travelling from Moneague to Ocho Rios by the fern gully
- on to St. Ann's Bay, passing the night at Mrs. Watson's Lodging House, and on 
to Brown's Town where Mr. Brown and friends were the guests of Mrs. Johnston.

A little later, just before Christmas 1890, the Gleaner published an account of the plans for the new hotel at Moneague being built to take advantage, it was hoped, of the visitors attracted to the 1891 Exhibition. The importance of the new hotel's location was described:

'Distant but two hours drive from St. Ann's Bay, 1½ hours drive over Mount Diablo 
to the railway. Excursion parties will be within 14 miles of the Roaring River falls, 
12 miles from the Cascade in St. Mary and in easy reach of the Fern Gully leading to Ocho Rios.'
 So, by 1891, 'Fern Gully' was in the process of becoming a permanent part of the island's vocabulary.

> > > for more on the Moneague Hotel
Throughout most of the 1890s the advertisements for the Moneague Hotel kept 'Fern Gully' in the press, but other references also appeared.

Daily Gleaner, April 20, 1892


'On Saturday we entered our buggy hired from the enterprising Mr, Sutherland and drove through the celebrated Fern Gully on our way

to visit the Roaring River Falls. The morning was a beautiful one; with clear blue sky above,

and delicious from the cool, sweet atmosphere

to which the early sun was just beginning to 

impart its warmth.The air was redolent with the 

fragrance of the Lime and Orange trees. On

either side of the road gentle zephyrs down the

glen wave the proud fronds of the ferns while

their foliage glistened with dew drops. We

would fain have lingered to survey the lovely

scenes that appeared to the eye but time pressed

on and so did we.'

In 1897 advertisements for the sale of the property 'Eden Bower' mentioned 'Fern Gully', as does the present site for 'The Ruins' which is located on a part of the old Eden Bower land.
 At Christmas the Gleaner usually had competitions for its readers; in 1899 one of the competitions was to describe an ideal two-week holiday in the island. The winner, who was a Jamaican Anglican clergyman, saw Fern Gully and its environs as able to provide a whole day's activities.

Daily Gleaner, December 23, 1899

The winner of the prize for the best letter on how to spend a fortnight's holiday in

Jamaica is Rev. J. W. Graham, Guy's Hill.




'On the sixth day the far-famed Fern Gully will provide lots of attractions for the holiday-maker, and with the addition of the scenes of

interest en route, a very pleasant day will be