Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Real Jamestown

Did you know there are two Jamestowns in Virginia? One is a nicely developed historical tourist attraction that strives to replicate the actual spot where the British colony was established in 1607. We visited this place, known as the Jamestown Settlement, which includes a fairly large museum as well as outdoor exhibits of a Powhatan Indian village, the Jamestown fort, which was built as soon as the colonists arrived, and replicas of the three ships which brought the colonists to the New World.

I don’t have any pictures of that Jamestown because it was raining when we visited and I didn’t want to get the camera wet. Besides, although the replicas were very informative and helped put the early history of the country in perspective, they were still replicas, and therefore fake.


However, about a mile down the road, the real location of the Jamestown colony is being excavated. This property is jointly  owned by the National Park Service and a private foundation doing archeological studies of the area. Right now the dig is on the site of the original 1607-08 fort. The church in the photo is what remains of a later, 18th century church, but it was recently discovered that the building sits on top of the site of the 1600’s church.


Tours here are given by archeologists who are working on the project, which began around 1994. Many of the artifacts dug up are in the museum located on the site.

With all due respect to the Plymouth Pilgrims, Jamestown was actually the first colony established in the New World. It’s theDSC_0045 place of Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas. It’s truly the birthplace of America, if not the United States, which was born about  170 years later. After the fort was built, a town developed which eventually became the first capital of Virginia. Later, the capital was moved to Williamsburg, and pretty much everything in Jamestown fell into ruin. The archeology that’s going on here is just the beginning. There will eventually be digs at the site of the town, but that’s probably years in the future.

A few miles from Jamestown and Williamsburg is Yorktown, which was the site of the final Revolutionary War battle. The Yorktown Victory Center is a smaller version of the Jamestown Settlement, and depicts life in Virginia at the time of the Revolution with a replica farm and military encampment.

DSC_0052The farm has a bunch of ducks, turkeys and other domestic fowl running around. The picture above seems to prove that a duck will find water wherever  it happens to be.


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