Incredibly Steep Outdoor Steps

Jacob's Ladder is a highlight of this tiny South Atlantic tropical island

Photo by Deusdixital — Own work, Public Domain

Hold tightly to the handrail when descending Jacob’s Ladder steps on the South Atlantic tropical island of St. Helena (a United Kingdom territory with a population of 4,500). Its incline of 44 degrees makes it much steeper than most steps and would be a code violation if built today rather than 150 years ago. And ascending the 650+ foot high set of steps presents quite the challenge for anyone who isn’t prepared to climb all 699 to reach the top.

In the late 1800s, Jacob’s Ladder was flanked by wooden inclined planes, which were used as part of a horse-powered system that hauled carts loaded with manure up and down the hill for use as fertilizer. Eventually, termites ate the wood, and all that remains are the concrete steps, which have been voted one of St. Helena’s 7 Wonders. (Another St. Helena Wonder is Jonathan the Tortoise, born in 1832, the oldest land-dwelling creature on Earth according to the Guinness World Records).

Here are two more of many interesting things about St. Helena: It’s one of the most isolated islands in the world, and it’s where the British imprisoned Napoleon during the last six years of his life, from 1815 to 1821.


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