Tag Archives: Jamestown VA

July 11: One more day in the Historic Triangle

Which is what they call Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown, and the land in between. It’s not as weird as what they call the area around the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, which is Hampton Roads (the local TV stations use the term the way we say Puget Sound area at home).

Anyway, I did not realize I’d want to spend what amounts to over four days here, but there’s just so much to see.

This morning I went back to Colonial Williamsburg, because I had to go walk around it one last time. You don’t have to buy a ticket to walk the streets or go into the gardens or shops, so I didn’t. I went into the dressmaker’s shop and bought a pack of fat quarters of reproduction fabrics, then I wandered around looking at gardens again. So beautiful. Seriously.

After lunch, I went back to Jamestown, and went through the living history museum across the road from where I was yesterday. The living history part consisted of a mockup of a Powhatan Indian village, a reconstructed Jamestown Fort, and those ships I saw from the ferry the other day. It was all interesting, especially the ships, but the real treasure was indoors – a terrific museum detailing the history of Jamestown from before the landing to when the capitol was moved to Williamsburg about a hundred years later. That was where I spent most of my time (it didn’t hurt that it was indoors in the AC on another scorching, humid day [wry g]).

They didn’t let us take photos in the museum, but here’s some Colonial Williamsburg garden photos (just because I can’t resist), and some photos of the living history part of Jamestown Settlement.

Tomorrow is more living history and an auto tour at Yorktown Battlefield, then on to the Eastern Shore.

Bells of Ireland, which also happens to be the first flower I ever grew from seed when I was a kid.
Bells of Ireland, which also happens to be the first flower I ever grew from seed when I was a kid.
Trellises the old-fashioned way.
Trellises the old-fashioned way.
The herb garden behind the apothecary shop.
The herb garden behind the apothecary shop.
Another view of the apothecary herb garden.
Another view of the apothecary herb garden.
Musicians along Duke of Gloucester St.
Musicians along Duke of Gloucester St.
The 114 foot long Susan Constant (a reproduction, obviously), the largest of the three ships that brought the first settlers to Jamestown.
The 114 foot long Susan Constant (a reproduction, obviously), the largest of the three ships that brought the first settlers to Jamestown.
Inside the Susan Constant.
Inside the Susan Constant.
54 people lived in this space for over four months while traveling to Virginia in 1607.
54 people lived in this space for over four months while traveling to Virginia in 1607.
A sailor telling the story of the Susan Constant.
A sailor telling the story of the Susan Constant.
One of the buildings inside Jamestown Fort.
One of the buildings inside Jamestown Fort.
I bet that was miserable to wear in a Virginia summer.
I bet that was miserable to wear in a Virginia summer.
The interior of the first church at Jamestown.  All of these buildings are reproductions built in the 1950s to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the landing.
The interior of the first church at Jamestown. All of these buildings are reproductions built in the 1950s to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the landing.

July 10: Jamestown: things have changed in 25 years

A view along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Jamestown.
A view along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Jamestown.

Today was sorta surreal. Jamestown is one of the places I have the strongest memories of from being here in 1991 with my ex. I remember wandering around, looking at the foundations of the buildings of the town, some statuary, and that was about all that was there.

Things changed in Jamestown when an archaeology professor came to visit in the early 90s and asked where the fort was. When he was told that the fort site had been lost to erosion and was out in the river, he said, I bet I can prove you were wrong. They gave him permission to dig and told him he had ten years. He found the foundation of the fort in less than one, and they’ve been excavating it ever since.

The result is that there’s so much more to Jamestown than there was when I was here last time, and the scale of things (they’ve literally found thousands of artifacts) and the knowledge they’ve gained is just amazing. I took a tour led by a young woman who works for Preservation Virginia (the non-profit that is in charge of the excavations, which are adjacent to the NPS land, but not on it), who told the story, and about the excavations, and what they’ve found and how they found it, and was spellbinding in spite of the heat, and in spite of the fact that the supposed 45-minute tour ended up lasting almost an hour and a half. I would not have missed this for the world.

The obelisk I saw from the ferry the other day.  Turns out it was constructed to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the settling of Jamestown in 1607.
The obelisk I saw from the ferry the other day. Turns out it was constructed to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the settling of Jamestown in 1607.
One of the excavations.  This was a cellar with a well in it, and apparently what the settlers did when the wells went bad (which happened regularly that close to the brackish river) was use them as garbage dumps, aka archaeological treasure troves.
One of the excavations. This was a cellar with a well in it, and apparently what the settlers did when the wells went bad (which happened regularly that close to the brackish river) was use them as garbage dumps, aka archaeological treasure troves.
Part of the remains of Jamestown's first church, with four graves at the front, the people inside of which they've been able to identify.
Part of the remains of Jamestown’s first church, with four graves at the front, the people inside of which they’ve been able to identify.

Then, after a very pleasant lunch in the café on site, I went to the museum, where I saw some of the artifacts she told us about. It made it all so real.

This is Jane (they don't know who she actually was, so they just gave her the name).  Her skull proved definitively that yes, the Jamestown settlers did practice cannibalism during the "starving times" during the first winter.  That's her skull on the left, and a conception of what she might have looked like on the right.  Apparently this discovery was *huge* in archaeological circles when she was found a few years ago.
This is Jane (they don’t know who she actually was, so they just gave her the name). Her skull proved definitively that yes, the Jamestown settlers did practice cannibalism during the “starving times” during the first winter. That’s her skull on the left, and a conception of what she might have looked like on the right. Apparently this discovery was *huge* in archaeological circles when she was found a few years ago.
This tiny (three inches maybe?) silver box is a Catholic reliquary, found in one of the graves in that church above.  Which was Anglican.  The story that went with that is too long to detail here, but it was really fascinating.
This tiny (three inches maybe?) silver box is a Catholic reliquary, found in one of the graves in that church above. Which was Anglican. The story that went with that is too long to detail here, but it was really fascinating.

I think even Emerson would have approved.

Deer in the swamp between Jamestown and the visitor center.
Deer in the swamp between Jamestown and the visitor center.
Another view of the swamp and the deer.  There's a very nice jugwalk causeway over it, thank goodness.  Oh, and I've never seen so many dragonflies in one place before.  Too bad none of them would hold still long enough for a photo.
Another view of the swamp and the deer. There’s a very nice jugwalk causeway over it, thank goodness. Oh, and I’ve never seen so many dragonflies in one place before. Too bad none of them would hold still long enough for a photo.
Wooden causeway along the Jamestown Island Road, which was a pretty drive with lots of historical signs.
Wooden causeway along the Jamestown Island Road, which was a pretty drive with lots of historical signs.

There was another museum in the NPS visitor center, but my brain was on overload by then, so I decided to take the little drive around the island, which let it rest a bit (and let me sit in the AC), then I decided to come on back to the motel, since it was getting late in the afternoon already.

Tomorrow I’m going back out to see the museum I missed, then go to the living history museum across the road, and I think I’m going to end up spending a fourth night here, and head for the eastern shore on Tuesday after a morning at Yorktown. I don’t have to be in Baltimore till Thursday, so there’s plenty of time. It’s just that there’s so much to do here!

July 8: Headed back in time for a few days

I’ve been on the road for six weeks as of today.  That is so hard to believe.  It’s going fast.

I was only about fifty miles from Williamsburg when I woke up this morning. I did, however, get a late start, and then I made a wrong turn that added about ten miles to the trip, but it was a pretty drive, so I wasn’t complaining. Also, I got to ride a ferry! A free car ferry across the James River, which at this tidal point is more of a bay than anything else. Also, I drove right onto the ferry, and it left right away. No waiting in the heat at all.

The writing on the back window of this van says, "Gettysburg or Bust, Boy Scout Troop 92" somewhere, "North Carolina. There was a whole convoy of them, at least eight vehicles. I thought it was funny.
The writing on the back window of this van says, “Gettysburg or Bust, Boy Scout Troop 92” somewhere, “North Carolina.” There was a whole convoy of them, at least eight vehicles. I thought it was funny.
The James River ferry, the Pocahontas.
The James River ferry, the Pocahontas.
Looking back along the walkway to the south shore of the James River.
Looking back along the walkway to the south shore of the James River.

The ferry ride was fun. I could see the Jamestown NHS from the water, and some tall ships that are part of a living history museum next door (that I’m going to tour while I’m here). It was also about ten degrees cooler on the water, with the breeze (mind, that was ten degrees cooler than ninety-something with air thick enough to drink, but still).

Part of Jamestown NHS. I don't know what the column is, but I'll be sure to find out.
Part of Jamestown NHS. I don’t know what the column is, but I’ll be sure to find out.
Tall ships on the James River, part of the Jamestown living history museum (which is not part of Jamestown NHS).
Tall ships on the James River, part of the Jamestown living history museum (which is not part of Jamestown NHS).

After I got here, I found my motel so I wouldn’t have to worry about it (I’d made reservations last night – I was a bit concerned about arriving in such a tourist destination on a Friday night in the summertime), then I got seriously lost trying to find the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown NHS. I didn’t get there till about four, and most of the site closes at 4:30, but I did get to go through the visitor center. Yorktown will be on my way out of town when I head towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel in a couple of days (I may spend three nights here, I may stay four – there’s a lot to do and see here, especially for a history buff who eats up living history with a spoon like I do), so I’ll make sure to leave early enough to take the auto tour of the battlefield and see the rest of it then.

A view of the Colonial Parkway, which runs from Jamestown through Williamsburg to Yorktown.
A view of the Colonial Parkway, which runs from Jamestown through Williamsburg to Yorktown.
One of dozens of similar signs along the Colonial Parkway. I chose this one because the content surprised me.
One of dozens of similar signs along the Colonial Parkway. I chose this one because the content surprised me.
A cannon associated with the Marquis de Lafayette, inside the Yorktown visitor center.
A cannon associated with the Marquis de Lafayette, inside the Yorktown visitor center.
A mockup of one of Cornwallis's ships, inside the visitor center. They had the inside mocked up, too.
A mockup of one of Cornwallis’s ships, inside the visitor center. They had the inside mocked up, too.

Tomorrow I am going to visit Colonial Williamsburg. Finally. I’m sorta doing things backwards, from a historical point of view. Yorktown is the newest site (it’s where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at the end of the Revolution), Colonial Williamsburg is from an older time period, and Jamestown, of course, is the earliest settlement in Virginia (I’m thinking in what became the U.S., but I think St. Augustine, Florida, or Santa Fe, New Mexico, might be older). But that’s okay.

Anyway, tomorrow expect lots of photos of people doing antique trades and stuff, and fancy old buildings and their insides, and pretty gardens (the last time I was here was in April, 1999, and the place was full of tulips – I’m looking forward to seeing what the gardens look like in midsummer).

Oh, and I had an idea for another book today.  I’m kind of afraid it’s a mouthful that’s way more than I can chew, but then that’s what I thought about what later became Repeating History, too, seventeen years ago, so maybe not.  I hope.