One reason we wanted to travel this summer was to visit the East coast’s historic sites. I will admit, now that we are here, I am overwhelmed! There is so much to do. And honestly, I’m a little bit tired of the touristy feel we’ve been in since we left the Midwest.
Yet, here we are, just another tourist family on vacation. Homeschooling tourists. So, instead of going to the expensive hands-on “tourist trap” museums, we are still *TRYING* to stick to the National Parks and free museums. Yesterday we chose to visit Jamestown. Not Jamestown Settlement. We chose Historic Jamestown.
This is the original site of the settlement in 1607. It has seen a surge in archaeological finds in the last decade, many which are housed in the visitor center and the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium. If we wanted to see history first hand, this would be the place to go.
The first stop was at the Visitor Center where we received our passes to enter the historic site (behind the center). Although we were able to use our National Pass, the Center is both a NPS and a Virginia Preservation site. Therefore we had to pay a $5 fee. They (unlike most places) did not charge for our son. (15 and under are free). And surprise – They had a sign that said “We are Dog friendly!” Yay for Tippi. More exposure to different environments and people.
This was in the Visitor Center’s exhibit. I love this quote. There is SO much in those couple of sentences.
The walk to the historic site is along a deck boardwalk across a swamp area. It ends at a memorial tower. From there to the left is Fort James.
The walk through this area took us over 2 hours which was cut short by a thunderstorm. So much to see. So much history!
Memorial church. On the other side is the original tower. This building is actually available for events. Inside I couldn’t get my camera to work, but it’s a serene place.
They are currently working on an archaeological dig in the yard beside the church. And they found horse skeleton that they are currently working on excavating. Not sure if it’s a horse or a mule. They will run tests to determine species once it is removed safely. Missy thinks it is a Pony.
Beside the grave site of a prominent member of the colony. I was surprised to find his remains are on display in the Archaearium, along with Jane (fascinating read!). It’s eerie to realize I was looking at the remains of a person who was alive, walking where I stood 400+ years before.
This is the landing site. In 1607 they stood in this spot. Wow. Hard to describe. Just awe.
This doesn’t look good. But we did not see lightning or hear thunder, so we continued.
The Statehouse is the first government building. One fascinating find: over 70 graves. They buried them beneath the building to keep the local tribes from knowing how many people had died. We visited the Archaearium opposite of this site, but no photography is allowed inside the building. This building houses a large majority of the artifacts found from the site.
There are two portions to Jamestown: Old Town and New Town. The older portion is where Fort James stood. The New Town portion to the east of the Fort was built up after the “Starving Years” of 1609-1610 when only 60 of the original 214 settlers survived. The town survived until about 1698 when the statehouse burned. By the middle of the 1700s the land was owned primarily by the Travis and Ambler families. Eventually the area became privately owned until 1934 when the National Park Service was able to acquire the location.
As we walked along this path, we imagined what it must have been like in the mid 1600’s. The Boy decided that the wealthier members must have lived here. Then we ran across the remains of this mansion.
At that point the sky rumbled and we quickly decided to make a run to the truck. We made it just in time.
Visit this Park
- Website: http://historicjamestowne.org/visit/
- Location: 1368 Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, Virginia 23081
- Hours: 8:30-4:30. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
- Cost: http://www.nps.gov/jame/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm