December 8, 2011

Where It All Began

After taking the day off yesterday, we resumed our touring today at Jamestown, Virginia. 

Kitty Said "Let's Go"
In 1607, a group of 104 men and boys sailed up the James River to establish the colony of Virginia, thus making Jamestown the first permanent English settlement in North America.  Historic Jamestowne, a part of Colonial National Historical Park, which also includes Yorktown and the Colonial Parkway, is jointly managed by the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia.

For a place that contains few above-ground structures, it is a surprisingly compelling site.  For me, it’s not just the seventeenth century history that’s interesting.  I was especially fascinated by the history of archeological investigations at the site, and not just because I’m married to an archeologist!  The National Park Service conducted the first archeological excavations in 1934 after acquiring the area of Jamestown known as New Towne.  J.C. Harrington, who directed the project, is often known as the father of modern historical archeology.

It was always assumed that all traces of the original 1607 James Fort had been lost to shoreline erosion.  Dr. William Kelso thought otherwise, and in 1994 Preservation Virginia launched the Jamestown Rediscovery Project.  Amazingly, more than ninety percent of the original fort has been located and more than one million artifacts have been discovered. 

Tim Surveying the Ongoing Archeological Excavations;
The Original 17th-Century Church Tower and
1907 Memorial Church Are in the Background

Excavation Site of the 1608 Church
Many of the findings of the Jamestown Rediscovery Project are on exhibit at the Voorhees Archaearium.  It’s a wonderful museum totally devoted to interpreting the archeological discoveries at Jamestown.  The most amazing exhibit is the one entitled “Who Shot JR,” which features the skeleton of a man killed by gunshots.  The way in which science and modern technology have enabled the archeologists to learn more about this individual is fascinating.  The museum was my favorite part of our visit to Jamestown.

The Archaearium Is Cantilevered Over the Site of the Statehouse
After exploring the Archaearium, we wandered around the New Towne where the original foundations have been reconstructed.  The original foundations have been reburied to preserve them.  Our last stop was the glasshouse, where we watched glass blowing near the original 1608 glasshouse ruins.

Foundations of the Original Settlement Along the James River

Reconstructed Foundations in New Towne

The Glass Blower at Work
We returned to our campground via the Colonial Parkway, a twenty-three mile scenic byway constructed by the National Park Service to link Virginia’s Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown.  My favorite features of the road are the beautiful brick, arched bridges.  It was a beautiful drive.

Bridges Along the Colonial Parkway


  1. I love Jamestown. I haven't been there is soooo long tho. You've inspired me to thinking about going back for a visit. LV

  2. LV, I would highly encourage you to go back for a visit. I think even better now than it ever was in the past. Sarah