The town of Black River, established close to the banks of the river after which it was named, was designed by the Leyton brothers, three wealthy landowners who were notable business men of the era.
It was established sometime around 1671 and was designated the captal of the parish of St. Elizabeth in 1773, when it replaced Lacovia.
Situated at the mouth of the Black River, where it flows into the sea, the town played an important role in the slave trade, sugar and logwood industry throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
It was a thriving town, second only to Kingston, where local farmers transported their sugar, logwood that was used to make dyes, and pimento to for trade or export.
West African slaves were auctioned at Farquharson Wharf. Today, there are only a few surviving wharves that were used to auction slaves.
As a major sea port, it became a major commercial center on the south coast of Jamaica. It's wealth contributed to it being the first town in Jamaica to be lit by electricty in 1893. It was also the first town to have cars in 1903 and telephone 10 years after it was invented.