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Pumpkin Hill is famous, at least locally, for being the highest point in Utila and the first visible part of the island when approaching by sea from any direction. No one is sure how the hill came to be named Pumpkin Hill. In his book ‘Utilla - Past and Present’, published in 1904, and written by a local Utilian - Richard H. Rose, he writes - “Whether the name [Pumpkin Hill] was given because the hill’s shape or form resembles a pumpkin, or because pumpkins were once produced in large numbers on it, I am not prepared to say.” Regardless, today (2000 to present), there is a large pumpkin patch on the south-west slope of Pumpkin Hill.
Rising to 74m (243 feet), (wow, around 23 storeys high), Pumpkin Hill is formed from the remnants of a small littoral (shoreline) volcanic cinder cone which together with a smaller (51m, 167 feet) pyroclastic cone (formed by volcanic eruption with fast flowing lava) at Stuarts Hill (51m, 167ft) in the center of the island. Both are presumed to have been formed during the Holocene Period (about 9,600 BC) and probably the result of geological activity that created the island of Utila by pushing up the sea bed to several meters above sea level. Utila is the eastern-most and lowest of the Bay Islands at the southern edge of the submarine Bartlett Trough and towards its eastern end is capped by a thin veneer of Holocene basaltic rocks (McBirney, Alexandra R. and M.A. Bass, 1969. Geology of Bay Islands, Gulf of Honduras: AAPG Memoir 11, pp. 229-243 - Spanish Language) - Alexandra R. McBirney is a noted geologist and volcanologist
Around the Pumpkin Hill area basaltic lavas and tuffs were erupted onto a coral-capped erosional surface creating interesting rock formations varying in colors from salmon pink where volcanic ash has combined with fossilized corals to the dark blue-black of basalt formations. Over the millennium decayed tropical vegetation has combined with the weathered rocks to form a rich layer of alluvial type soil around the base of the hill that eventually turns to sandy terrain on the small plateau before reaching the shoreline.
Richard Rose also tells the story in ‘Utilla - Past and Present’, of an adventurous visitor to the island who, “after rambling over this hill, announced to the owners that it is largely composed of phosphates. He promised to report this on his return to his home and so interest a company to purchase the manure and send vessels to take it away.”
Areas of Pumpkin Hill are littered with ancient caves formed by volcanic activity, and local legend has it that Pirate Treasure has been found in nearby Brandon Cave. Richard Rose again reports “Many years ago, a golden goblet, a rusty sword, and a golden crucifix, were found in the cave. They were bought out and sold by the finder to Mr Whitefield, one of the merchants on the island. The goblet was finally sent to an exhibition that was held at Comayagua, the former capital of Honduras.”
Today, Pumpkin Hill remains largely undeveloped, primarily because the road to the area requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle during the rainy season. A small population of mostly ex-patriots live in the area and continue to work in conjunction with the local municipality to improve the road structure. Municipal power and water has yet to be supplied since the small population makes current provision un-economic. Despite these drawbacks, this area offers great potential primarily due its natural beauty of ocean views and lush tropical foliage and has long been is a popular ‘destination’ for local Utilians who want to leave the town center for a week-end ‘getaway’.
It has been recently (late 2012) been rumored around ‘town’ that a group of investors/developers are planning to install a paved road from the Utila ‘Airport Highway’ through to Jack’ Bight on the north side. If so, this may improve ‘all weather’ access to the Pumpkin Hill area.
Location : As shown on Google Maps.
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