Amusement Parks
National Parks
Route 66 Cities Beaches




Getting There
The Historic District
Other Area Attractions
You really should begin your Williamsburg visit with a day (or at least half a day) at Jamestown, since that's where it all began in 1607. The Virginia Company arrived with its charter from the King of England to establish a colony along the Chesapeake Bay or one of its larger tributaties. They chose the site up the James River because it was sheltered from ocean storms and offered good hunting and large trees needed for building a fort and houses, but had the deep water to allow ships to anchor. It was only gradually they realized it was also mosquito infested, low and damp and ideal for Malaria and Influenza. So they eventually abandoned Jamestown and moved the Virginia Headquarters to higher ground at Williamsburg. Shown above left is the Susan Constant, the largest of the three ships which brought the Virginia Company to Jamestown. Above right is the church they built, and at right is a painting of the colony. Since Jamestown was abandoned as a fully functioning colony, it has been a treasure for archaeologists and historians.
The Jamestown Historical District is really three sites. The original site is too valuable historically and archaeologically. Excavations are still in progress. So you can visit the site, see the Chapel, Thomas Hunt Memorial, Pocahantas Memorial and other landmarks. You can also look over the tape lines and watch experts unearthing new discoveries. There is a museum where some of their discoveries are on display with explanations. However, the entire Jamestown Colony has been reconstructed just up the shore so you can visualize exactly what it looked like, walk through it, interact with the customed interpreters, and take photos. The dock has been reconstructed up there, and the ships anchored there. A short distance away, the Powhatan village has been recreated in what is believed to be its original location. This was not the main Powhatan capital. That was further inland. But like most Eastern tribes, they maintained Summer headquarters on the coast for fishing and to escape the intense heat and humidity of inland Virginia. With arrival of The Virginia Company, this satellite village became much more important, and was occupied year round so they could trade, negotiate with and keep an eye on the Europeans.
Like the other "original" colonies (Roanoke, Plimoth and Salem), Jamestown took on a mythical status. Central to the myth handed down over the centuries is the story of Pocahantas. The famous 1995 Walt Disney animated feature influences the thinking of most Americans. Like most myths, there is a foundation of Truth in this one. Pocahantas was the daughter of the chief, and befriended the English. When the village ran out of food by midwinter, she persuaded her father to send weekly supplies to keep the men alive until their ships arrived with more. The girl established relationships with John Smith and John Rolfe. During a time of disagreement, John Smith was captured and was about to be put to death when Pocahantas intervened and convinced her father to free him. Smith and the Chief resolved their disagreement and restored peace. All of this we know to be true. It is thoroughly documented. Where the modern myth departs from fact is in the supposed romance between Smith and Pocahantas. This romance never existed. The romance was between Pocahantas and John Rolfe. She eventually converted to Christianity and married Rolfe in a famous ceremony in the Jamestown Chapel administered by Reverend Thomas Hunt. Pocahantas returned with her husband to England, was quite popular there and was even the guest of the Queen. Another exaggeration of the myth was the curvaceous sexuality of Pocahantas when The Virginia Company first arrived. At that time she was in early adolescence and would not have been so alluring. Several years later, by the time she married and accompanied Rolfe to England, she apparently had grown into a very attractive woman, but transposing that appearance backward to when she was only 14 is inaccurate.
The original Jamestown Fort was a large triangular structure. At its three points were built gun platforms to defend against attack from either native Algonquin tribes or the Spanish Armada. Along the interior walls were built administrative headquarters, stores, and other community buildings. Inside that, at the heart of the community, were the homes. Shown here is Bill Kelso of the Jamestown Rediscovery Project. Over one million artifacts have been uncovered, one of the greatest historical collections in history. It had long been feared that over 400 years most or all of this treasure had been eroded and washed down the river, since the water laps at the edge of Jamestown. But we now know none of it has been lost.
You cannot hurry a trip to Jamestown Settlement. The waterfront alone is worth an hour. We have boats on lakes and rivers today which are much bigger than the three tiny ships The Virginia Company sailed across the ocean. Stepping on board one of those ships and imagining ocean waves crashing over the decks during storms helps appreciate the men who founded this nation. We have maps, letters, diaries, books and ledgers to verify exactly what the Settlement looked like : what buildings there were, and where they were built relative to each other. You can heft their tools in your hands, try on a shirt of chain mail, step inside their houses, see how they primed and fired their cannon and watch them fixing their meals. Like Williamsburg, this IS a Time Machine.
The Jamestown Visitor Center has an excellent cafeteria, bookstore and gift shop. We recommend doing the Powhatan Village, Waterfront and Reconstructed Settlement in the morning, relaxing with lunch in the air conditioning (left), then finishing up at the Original Site in the afternoon. You need time to walk the grounds, watch and possibly talk to archaeologists, take in some of the guided presentations, pause at the Chapel, and enjoy looking out over the water, trying to imagine what it would have been like arriving in this strange land on an adventure which was about to change the history of the world.
Like Us On Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OutpostUSA/) To Receive Daily Outdoor Adventure News and Notes And To Comment
This Year's Unique Visitor Tally : 1,003,492 Contact us at Omlordw@aol.com Meet our writers at Staff