by Jody Argo Schroath
By the time 2007 takes its own place in the past, there will be perhaps two or three people in the Chesapeake area who have not been touched by a Jamestown 400th-anniversary event--they'll be the ones wearing Pampers. And even then...
There are so many special events marking the quadricentennial of the landing at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, that they spilled over backward into last year. The replica shipGodspeed, for example, made a tour of the East Coast before returning to Virginia to prepare for this year's first landing re-enactment on April 26.
Jamestown Live!allowed a million students across the country to watch an hour-long webcast on Jamestown's legacy that featured questions from students to a panel that included Chickahominy Chief Stephen Adkins, Jamestown's chief archaeologist William Kelso and former astronaut Dr. Kathryn Thornton. The Virginia tribes held a conference last October on 400 Years of Survival. And last month, radio host Tavis Smiley hosted a 2007 State of the Black Union event on the Black Imprint on America. Smiley asked a panel of 36 notable African-Americans to discuss the role that Blacks have played in the development of America, from the arrival of the first slaves at Jamestown in 1619 to the present.
But don't worry, there are plenty of special activities still on the 2007 event horizon, including the biggest and brashest one of them all. That would be America's Anniversary Weekend, May 11 to 13, at Jamestown, a mega-celebration that will feature three days of special events and all manner of famous folks--James Earl Jones, Ricky Skaggs, Chaka Khan, Sandra Day O'Connor and, of course, the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra (they grow their own instruments). To help you make sense of all the Jamestown 400 hoopla--which will include a visit May 3 and 4 by Queen Elizabeth II--we've ruthlessly marshaled these activities into several neat groups-- Jamestown events, all-around-the-Bay-events and (our readers' favorite) events with boats. Finally, you'll find two related stories--the first, how our understanding of what happened at Jamestown has changed over the years as we have changed; the second, information on cruising the Jamestown area.
When we talk about Jamestown, of course, we are talking about notoneJamestown, but
two. For Jamestown newbies, here's how we went from zero to two: Since Jamestown had all but disappeared as a town by the middle of the 18th century, 1907's 300th-birthday celebration was held in Norfolk instead. But organizers of the 1957 event moved the 350th birthday party back to Jamestown--to a facility constructed for the purpose, called Jamestown Festival Park and located adjacent to the original site. Jamestown Festival Park is now named Jamestown Settlement, while the site of the 1607 landing, early forts and town is called Historic Jamestowne. Hence two Jamestowns and three sites for the 400th Anniversary Weekend (the third is Anniversary Park, across Route 31 from the settlement, and where many of the weekend's concerts will be held).
Jamestown Settlement, under the operation of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation of the State of Virginia, includes a re-created Indian village, a reproduction Jamestown fort, 70,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibition space--where you can walk down a 17th-century English main street--and reproductions of the ships that brought the first settlers:Susan Constant,
Discovery. Special 400th-anniversary programming at the Settlement begins April 27 with the opening of "The World of 1607," an ambitious cycle of four exhibits put together by 28 scholars using ma-terials borrowed from all over the world with the aim of putting the settlement of Jamestown in a global context. The idea is to make us nonscholars recognize that events do not occur in a vacuum, but rather as a part of larger forces, including political, social and artistic. Items that will be part of the exhibit include a 15th-century copy of the Magna Carta, a 1607 jade wine cup of the Emperor Jahangir of India and a 17th-century African carved-ivory saltcellar. Don't you feel smarter already?
A lot of the other special programming at Jamestown Settlement will take place only during the Anniversary Weekend. This will include artillery demonstrations, honor guards, story- telling, pageantry and plays. There will be demonstrations by artisans and craftspeople, and more than enough to keep several thousand children as happy as clams for hours at a time. The replica ships will also be open for tours, and costumed interpreters will act as guides in all areas of the park.
The archaeological site, known as Historic Jamestowne, is a partnership between the National Park Service and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA). It's on nearby Jamestown Island, connected to the mainland by the Colonial Parkway and a short bridge across Sandy Bay. In 1994, the APVA hired archaeologist William Kelso to excavate the site in hopes of finding something exciting for the 2007 anniversary. Although earlier excavations had failed to find evidence of the original James Fort, Kelso found it on his first dig--that April. The site of the fort was long believed to have been flooded two centuries ago by the James River. In fact, nearly all the fort's original footprint is on dry land, with only one corner under water. In the years following that discovery, Kelso and his workers have uncovered more than 700,000 artifacts, including a particularly intriguing skeleton found just outside the original walls buried with a ceremonial captain's staff. Kelso believes this may be the remains of Bartholomew Gosnold, captain of theGodspeedand one of the colony's key leaders. [See sidebar, page 57.]
Historic Jamestowne has recently added a sleek, multi-windowed Archaearium, which uses clever display techniques to show off a selection of the artifacts within view of where they were unearthed. Also at Historic Jamestowne, visitors can visit the glassblowers house, the remains of a late-17th-century church, archaeological finds such as the outlines of Jamestown's last statehouse (1663), an early burial ground, and statues of John Smith and Pocahantas.
Special Anniversary Weekend events at Historic Jamestowne will include commemorations of past Jamestown celebrations, a series of programs called 104 Men and Boys, lectures and the official send-off of the replica shallop that will spend the rest of the summer re-enacting Captain John Smith's 1608 voyages of discovery on the Chesapeake [see "The Captain's Trail," October, November 2006]. Smith had set off from Jamestown not long after the settlers arrived to explore the Bay in search of gold and the long-sought Northwest Passage to Asia and to make contact with the Native American tribes living along its shores. During two major voyages of discovery, Smith and his crew sailed or rowed up nearly every tributary on the Bay and Smith himself created its first detailed map. The re-enactment voyage that leaves Jamestown May 12 will largely retrace Smith's trips, making about two dozen stops at cities and towns along the way.
Musical events will play a big part in the Anniversary Weekend schedule--including a 1,607-member chorale and 400-piece orchestra, famous performers such as Bruce Hornsby, Chaka Khan and Ricky Skaggs, and award-winning musical groups from dozens of schools and independent organizations all over the country (including that all-gourd orchestra). In addition, there will be re-enactments, plays, fireworks, pageantry, demonstrations and dramatic readings . . . in short, just about everything you can imagine. No more than 30,000 people will be admitted on any one of the three days, so buying a ticket in advance is essential. For a detailed schedule of events, visitwww.jamestown2007.org. You'll find ticket information there, too, and in the sidebar on this page.
All Over the Bay Events
While the Anniversary Weekend will produce the biggest bang for the history books, you can be sure that there will be a Jamestown 400 boomlet near you. It may be a Signature Event--the term used by Jamestown 2007 organizers for a dozen or so major events around the region, many of which adopt the anniversary's official theme:A convergence of three cultures. Among these are the American Indian Intertribal Festival in Hampton, Va., on July 21 and 22 and the African-American Culture and Commerce Expo on August 24 and 25 in Hampton Roads. Also on the schedule is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 27 to July 8, which will feature performers, storytellers and crafts from native Virginia, southeastern England and West Africa. September 16 to 19 will see the concluding Forum on the Future of Democracy in Williamsburg. (You'll find more information on all these events at the
Elsewhere, a special exhibit in Richmond is especially worthy of note. "Rule Britannia! Art, Royalty and Power in the Age of Jamestown," at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, runs from April 28 through August 12 (www.vmfa.state.va.us/rule.html). This is an exhibition of 17th-century royal portraits and maritime paintings--some of them massive--that include special loans from the collection of Queen Elizabeth II, museums such as the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and private British collections. Some of these works have rarely been seen by the public.
In Norfolk, the Virginia Living Museum will offer two special and very different programs as its contribution to the Jamestown festivities. "Survivor: Jamestown Maze," which runs through November 25, challenges children and adults to wind their way through a maze, making decisions along the way in order to survive in this new world. Also at the Living Museum, backyard horticulturalists will delight in a new permanent garden that highlight's Virginia's botanical history from 1607 to the present.
Two more Norfolk events are worthy of note. Sail Virginia, June 7 to 12, will feature military parades and ceremonies, historical re-enactments, maritime and cultural activities with tall ships off Ocean View and Norfolk Naval Base, and Harborfest weekend, with plays and special exhibits. (www.sailvirginia2007.com) Norfolk will also be the location for Working Waterways and Waterfronts--A National Symposium on Water Access, May 9 to 11, at the Sheraton Marriott Norfolk. (
The Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg (www.vptheatre.com) is currently showcasing a historical play,
Smith, Being the Life and Death of Cap'n Johnby Ivor Nel Hume. This runs April 5 to December 31.
We could go on, but the list of Jamestown-related events at locations throughout the Chesapeake would stretch into next month's magazine, so we recommend that you checkwww.jamestown2007.org/calendar.cfm. You can search by date and area.
Events with Boats
Happily for all of us boaters on the Bay, a great many of the 400th-anniversary events will be taking place in and around the water. Here, too, it's enough information to sink a ship, so we are only going to hit the high spots. But we'll give you some websites where you can find out more. The water-centered events fall pretty much into two categories: re-enactment events that feature one or all of the three replica ships,Godspeed,
Discovery, and re-enactment events centered on the 1608 discovery voyages of Captain John Smith and his crew. To make things even more interesting, the Bay has produced not one, but three replicas of Smith's 30-foot open boat, called a shallop, that was carried aboard ship from England and then reassembled in the New World. Each of the replica shallops has its own itinerary--though occasionally, like on this first event, they will all be together.
By way of Jamestown re-enactments, this is the Big Bang. On Thursday, April 26, all three ships and all three shallops will be at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach for a dramatic redo of the Jamestown settlers' first landfall in America at Cape Henry. The first-landing program will start at 9 a.m. Can't make it that early? Don't worry, the second first-landing program will start at 3 p.m. There will be an admission charge at the park for the event.
The replica ships will leave Virginia Beach on April 28, as theGodspeedtakes the lead in the Signature Event called Journey up the James. The
Godspeedwill stop at three other ports before arriving at Jamestown on May 11 for the start of the Anniversary Weekend. [For all the ports of call of
Godspeed's Journey up the James as well as its journey on the Bay this summer and fall, see sidebar, page 57.] Recreational boaters are invited to join the flotilla from Virginia Beach to Hampton on April 28 in what Hampton calls the Great American Dock Party. The date also coincides with the city's International Children's Festival. (For infor-mation on participating marinas, call 800-487-8778.)
Although all three shallops will be at Virginia Beach on April 26 for the First Landing event, the "official" shallop--the one built in Chestertown by Sultana Projects--will get its formal send-off at 10 a.m. on May 12 from Historic Jamestowne for the start of its re-enactment of Smith's voyages of discovery. (You'll need an Anniversary Weekend ticket to see the send-off.) The first of 20 official stops in the re-enactment voyage will be at Onancock on May 19 and 20, coinciding with that town's combined celebration of Captain Smith and the 200th birthday of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At all of the official stops, visitors will be invited to meet the crew and view the traveling exhibits that go along with it [see sidebar, page 56].
Special events are planned to coincide with official stops of both the shallop on its re-enactment voyage and theGodspeedas it visits ports throughout the Bay following the Anniversary Weekend, so check the schedule in the sidebar and then look for informa-tion near your home port or favorite cruising grounds.
Finally, this summer's Captain John Smith 400 voyage will inaugurate the nation's first all-water historic trail, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, which was approved by Congress in December 2006 and which is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. At three points in the Sultana shallop's trip, NOAA will activate its first three "smart buoys" that will give information about the historic and ecological significance of the particular location, as well as live readings of weather and water conditions and of water quality. The first buoy will be located 400 yards offshore due south of the Jamestown monument and will be dedicated during Anniversary Weekend. The second will be a mile or so northwest of the Point Lookout Light near the mouth of the Potomac River. The third will be activated when the shallop approaches Baltimore and will sit about a mile east-south-east of Seven Foot Knoll light. Boaters (and everyone else) will be able to dial these buoys by calling the toll free number 877-BUOYBAY. You'll be able to access the buoys over the internet atwww.buoybay.org.
Okay, that's it for us. Now it's up to you. Take a look, learn more about America's beginnings, and then get on board and go see it for yourself!
Read About Jamestown
Here are four books that have been published over the past several years that put the Jamestown experience in a new and more accurate light.
A Land As God Made It--Jamestown and the Birth of Americaby James Horn (Basic Books, 2005), avoids sweeping statements in favor of well documented detail. The story loses none of its narrative drive for the effort. What emerges is a grim and sometimes maddeningly inept struggle to establish a colony while waiting for the Spanish ships to attack. Horn begins the story not with the departure of the English ships for the Chesapeake, but rather in 1561 with the Spanish efforts to dominate all of North and South America. This includes an early effort to establish a mission in Virginia, which ended in disaster for the Jesuits--and a bad taste in some natives' mouths for European visitors.
Love and Hate in Jamestown--John Smith, Pocahontas and the Heart of a New Nation, by David A. Price (Knopf, 2003), retells the Jamestown story, also with footnotes, with sometimes varying emphasis and interpretation of events. Both this and Horn's book give a better picture of the highly structured and sophisticated society of the Native American tribes that peopled all of the Chesapeake Bay.
In writing of Jamestown, historians run up against the problems associated with their primary sources. Nearly all those who wrote contemporary accounts of the tumultuous events of those years could be considered unreliable. John Smith, on whom historians must depend for descriptions of his travels up and down the Chesapeake as well as the first years at James Fort, presents a particularly thorny problem because he was flagrantly self-promoting.
Two other books,Jamestown--The Buried Truth, by William M. Kelso (University of Virginia Press, 2006) and
The Birth of Black America--The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestownby Tim Hashaw (Carroll & Graf, 2007) refreshingly avoid that issue by taking very different tacks. Kelso is the chief archaeologist at Historic Jamestowne, the actual site of the fort and subsequent town, and the man who actually uncovered the outlines of the 1607 fort, as well as hundreds of thousands of artifacts. Kelso's approach is to understand the Jamestown experience by using the evidence of what they left behind. It makes a lively story and in some ways comes closer than more traditional histories to giving flesh and blood to those who struggled--or didn't--to make it work.
Finally, Hashaw's book is in many respects the most fascinating of all, because it gives us an insight into a civilization, ancient and complex, that most of us know nothing about--Angola, the starting place for the early slave trade to the Americas.
Also just out:The Jamestown Project, by Karen Ordahl Kupperman (Harvard University, 2007).
Savage Kingdom--The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America, by Benjamin Woolley (Harper Collins, 2007).
New books, new digs, new times: Why this is no longer your granddaddy's Jamestown.
So, you're saying that this guy Hakluyt was sort of the Karl Rove of Jamestown?" my husband Rick asked, stuffing another handful of diesel- and oil-soaked insulation into the garbage bag.
"Exactly. He was one of the big theory guys behind the Virginia Company," I answered, contributing my own square foot of 30-year-old spongy stuff to the trash heap.
Rick and I were getting the engine compartment on our sailboat ready for its rebuilt Volvo MD6A, and I was working hard to convince him that sharing Jamestown with perhaps 30,000 other people sometime during the weekend of May 11, 12 and 13 would be well worth the hassle. He hates crowds.
"I know that fireworks and big-name entertainers seem an odd way to mark an event that nearly destroyed the Native Americans and introduced slavery into the English colonies, but a lot of good came of it, too--eventually."
"But at least we've moved past the Pocahontas loves John Smith fairy tale, haven't we?" he asked.
"Well, kind of," I replied. "The trouble is, there's a real disconnect between what scholars now know about Jamestown and what all the Fred and Ethel Mertzes think they know about it."
"Sure, but it makes it a lot more fun to celebrate."
"Admittedly, but the real story of Jamestown is much more interesting," I insisted. "And it has a lot more interesting characters." In his 2004 book,Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past, Roy Raphael argues that when we hide the truth behind myth we miss important lessons about who we were . . . and are. "Look, the John Smith-Pocahontas myth is only a sit-com romance, but the real story of Pocahontas is Greek tragedy of the highest order. Pocahontas, by her friendship and generosity, saved the settlers on several occasions, and by doing that she unwittingly ensured the disintegration of her own people."
And the story of Bartholomew Gosnold, I continued, is another real-life tragedy in the Jamestown story. Gosnold led a 1602 exploration of the New England coast, winding up on what is now Cuttyhunk Island near Martha's Vineyard. He intended to found a colony there but, with provisions dwindling, abandoned the idea and sailed back to England. Once back, he drummed up support for another colony and was a founding member and prime mover of the Virginia Colony. The tragedy for Jamestown is that Gosnold, perhaps the only one of the colonists who had the needed experience and leadership and commanded the respect of all, died only three months after they arrived.
"And talk about yourdeus ex machinas, the Jamestown story is full of them!" I continued.
"My what machines?"
"In plays and novels, that's where someone appears out of nowhere or something totally unexpected happens to resolve some difficulty in the plot. It happened time and again in the real Jamestown story." From the beginning, for example, the English were sure the Spanish were going to attack the colony. That's why they picked such a wretched swampy spot like Jamestown--it was easy to defend against an attack from the sea. During one of the colony's frequent weak moments, a Spanish ship came for the kill, but spotted an English supply ship that happened to be sounding the entrance to the James River before sailing up to Jamestown. The Spanish, believing the ship was guarding the colony from invasion, decided not to fight and sailed away. The Spanish never returned. The English stayed on and founded their colony. Another time, things had gotten so bad that the colonists were all loaded into their ship and had started for home when they met the colony's new president and fresh supplies just arriving from England, and so they had to turn around and go back.
"Will there be any godly interventions during the Anniversary Weekend? That might make the trip worthwhile."
"Well, yes, if you count James Earl Jones. And maybe Sandra Day O'Connor."
"Hurrumph," he said. "Why should I go again? I've already been to Jamestown. It was one of only two vacations my family ever took," he told me for perhaps the 437th time. (The other one, in case you can't stand the suspense, had been to Fort ticonderoga and Niagara Falls.)
"It's not the same Jamestown you saw," I insisted, "or that I saw, for that matter, when I visited with my family, too. For one thing, there actually is a Jamestown now. They've found the old fort and a lot of other things."
"I came home with a tomahawk and a paperweight," he continued, lost in his own reverie. "Butch, our chow, ate the tomahawk, and the paperweight probably went out with my comic books." He sighed. That settled the question as far as he was concerned. But I was determined to win this one . . . and we had a lot of insulation to go.
"Well, I didn't get any souvenirs, because we just went out to see where everybody thought the original fort had washed into the James River," I said. Some peopledidhang on to their souvenirs, though. One woman's grandparents traveled to the 1907 Tercentennial of Jamestown in Norfolk for their honeymoon and came back with a commemorative scarf. They hung the scarf in a place of honor on a wall of their home, where it stayed the rest of their lives and after their son inherited it. When he died, the scarf was finally taken down and now hangs in a place of honor in the home of the couple's granddaughter. It was she who shared this memory on the
Jamestown2007.orgwebsite for people who attended 1957's 350th anniversary celebration, which she did.
Since there was no Jamestown at Jamestown in 1907, the 300th anniversary had been held at what is now the Norfolk Naval Base. "More than a million people came to the celebration, which lasted several weeks," I said. Rick shuddered. I continued: "It included a lot of exhibits about the history of Jamestown, of course, as well as industrial exhibitions and a big show of military might, highlighted by the parade of 'The Great White Fleet.' " He perked up at that.
How we tell a story--even our myths-- depends a lot on who we are at the time. The Tercentennial of 1907 was only one generation removed from the Civil War, and so the exposition had a lot to do with reconciliation, as you can see in the words of Garnett Lee's song, "Jamestown-Rag," written for the occasion:
Be sure and come to Norfolk during "Jamestown Exposition,"
Ev'ry part of the world will have an exhibition,
People from the North will come and bring their boodle,
And be made to feel at home when they hear "Yankee Doodle!"
All the Southerners will be there with the glad hand,
And will also feel at home with "Dixie Land."
It was also about the South reclaiming Jamestown as the founding event from the Pilgrims. They dusted off the John Smith-Pocahontas story and gave it a "modern" twist. To wit Charles M. Carey's comedy song, "Return of Capt. John Smith," which also debuted at the Jamestown Exposition of 1907:
Pocahontas she was coming with me,
But nervous she thought she would feel.
And Powhatan was 'fraid to venture
In such a death-dealing machine.
So he'd row his canoe, then would get through,
And not have to smell gasoline.
Just your typical modern American family. While organizers concentrated on the mingling of red, white and blue with blue and gray, the predominant paint scheme was purely white and European, with the exception of a federally mandated building that featured the contributions of African-Americans to the nation's development. That is more than can be said for the 350th anniversary in 1957, which in the face ofBrown vs. Board of Educationchose to ignore the race issue entirely. On the other hand, excavations and a reexamination of historical documents had led to a better understanding of the settlers' lives, as well as those of the Virginia tribes they encountered. Jamestown Festival Park (now called Jamestown Settlement) was built near the original site of Jamestown and featured an Indian village and replicas of the ships that brought the first settlers. There were also plays, music and a visit by the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II.
"The queen's visit is what everyone who went there in 1957 seems to remember most," I said.
"Well, this is all endlessly fascinating, but you still haven't given me a really good reason to go mingle with a million people."
"Oh, there won't be more than 90,000 total," I said.
"Ha, ha. All right, out of the engine compartment with you. We're going to get some lunch. We'd better get take-out, though. We stink of diesel."
"The Powhatans thought the English stank to high heaven, too, because they didn't take baths very often, which the Powhatans and other Virginia tribes did, about every day," I said. "They also thought the English were pathetic because they couldn't hunt, fish or grow crops worth a darn, and had to keep asking the Indians for food . . . or taking it by force. Civilized is what you are; savage is what the other guy is," I concluded grandly.
"Do you want fries with your fish sandwich, or are you going to seize mine?"
"No, look, I've been reading some of these new books on Jamestown, and for them, it's not about Disneyworld anymore. I'm telling you, this is a hard, nasty, gritty story that makes24look like the
Teletubbies. Ask John Smith about getting voted off the island! They set fire to his gunpowder supply--while he was wearing it. We're talking back-stabbing, treachery, murder and other things I'm not even going to mention because we're eating lunch. And that's not counting their relations with the Indians," I said warming to my subject. "Do you want the rest of that sandwich?"
The Jamestown colonists had lost two-thirds of their people before the first supply ship came back from England six months later with another 100 settlers. As James Horn points out in his 2005 book,A Land As God Made It, in that half a year, their president had been deposed, one council member had been shot, one was under arrest and another was about to be hanged. A few days after the ship's return, the whole place--including all the new supplies--burned down and they were right back where they started from. Dozens of them starved to death the following winter and were buried in mass graves inside the fort--to keep the Indians from finding out. Meanwhile, the guys they had sent to winter at Point Comfort had more fish than they knew what to do with.
"This is a story whose time has come," I said, "if only people would just recognize it for what it is. The 1907 and 1957 celebrations reflected their time; the new books reflect ours. ThinkCold Caseand
CSIwith maybe a little
Men in Trees. Actually, you can get a bumper sticker now at Historic Jamestowne that says: 'Jamestown 1607. When surviving wasn't a game.' It shows at least somebody's catching on."
I looked over and saw Rick's eyes beginning to glaze over. He doesn't watch much TV.
"Well, to make a long story short, the Virginia Company managed to keep sending people faster than they could die off, and in 1619 about 20 Angolans destined for slavery in the South American salt mines but who were pirated from the Spanish by a pair of British ships ended up in Jamestown. The English started systematically killing off all the Indians, and tobacco caught on as a money-making crop, thanks in no small part to the labor of the slaves. The king dissolved the Virginia Company and took over the colony. Jamestown remained the capital of Virginia until 1698, when it burned down once too often, and then faded into a plantation and history."
"But what about the Karl Rove guy?" asked my husband, who apparently had been listening after all.
"Richard Hakluyt? Well, back in England he was making the case that colonies would be a good thing for England, because they would provide raw materials that the British were having to buy elsewhere and then they would provide a ready market for the finished goods England produced. So the country would prosper. And that's what happened . . . eventually. Along with representative government, independence and the most powerful nation in the world."
"Karl Rove said that?"
"No, Hakluyt did. I was just trying to make it more relevant. They were both the at-home idea guys. One's idea was about built-in trading partners and spreading Christianity and the other's was, or is, about Middle East trading stability and spreading democracy."
"It was pretty tough on the Native Americans and the Africans, though."
"That's putting it mildly," I agreed. "And that's why it's called the 400th anniversarycommemoration, rather than celebration. Chief Stephen Adkins of the Chickahominy tribe pointed out that it would be more appropriate, and everyone had to admit he was right."
"And the Native Americans are going along with this?"
"Yes, they agreed to, after some discussion, because this way they have at least some control over the way it's done. The same for African-Americans. It's not perfect, by a long shot, but at least this time there are programs and events that address African-American and Native American issues. The organizers call it a 'convergence of three cultures.' "
"Sounds like a myth to me."
"Well, a euphemism, anyway. So which day do you want to converge?"
"Okay, I give up. We'll go to Jamestown. . . . Where's the scraper?"
Captain John Smith Four Hundred Project
The shallop built in Chestertown by Sultana Projects will leave Jamestown on May 12 to begin a 1,500-mile journey, lasting four months and retracing the voyage made by Captain John Smith and his crew up nearly every tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Onboard the modern shallop will be a crew of 12--sailors, kayakers, educators, environmentalists--who will make do with the comforts and technologies of Smith's day, as much as possible, during the voyage. The shallop will make 20 official stops along the route for public exhibitions. For more information about Smith's 1608 voyage and the Sultana shallop's 2007 trip, seewww.johnsmith400.org.
The 2007 Re-enactment Voyage
May 12 Historic Jamestowne, Va.
May 19-20 Onancock, Va.
May 29 Phillips Landing, Del.
May 30 Seaford/Blades, Del.
June 2 Vienna, Md.
June 9-10 Solomons, Md.
June 16 Colonial Beach, Va.
June 21 Accokeek, Va.
June 23-24 Mount Vernon, Va.
June 27-July 1 Washington, D.C.
July 2 Alexandria, Va.
July 14-15 Annapolis, Md.
July 17 Rock Hall, Md.
July 21 Port Deposit, Md.
July 21 Perryville, Md.
July 22 Havre de Grace, Md.
July 28-29 Baltimore, Md.
Aug. 4-5 St. Leonard, Md.
Aug. 12 Tappahannock, Va.
Aug. 18-19 Fredericksburg, Va.
Aug. 26 Deltaville, Va.
Sept. 1-4 Norfolk, Va.
Sept. 8 Historic Jamestowne, Va.
Two other John Smith shallops will be plying the Bay this season: theExplorer, built by the Deltaville Museum, and the
Spirit of 1608, built by the Reedville Fishermen's Museum. Since no plans or detailed renderings of the original craft exist, the three boats vary somewhat in design. For details of the
Explorer's schedule, see
museumpark.deltavilleva.org. For Spirit of 1608, see
Historic Jamestowne archaeologist William Kelso believes that a skeleton unearthed in 2003 just outside the walls of the original Jamestown fort could very likely be that of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold. Over the past dozen years, the dig at Jamestown has uncovered lots of skeletons, but this one was different. The coffin was found outside the walls (most were buried inside the fort so that the Indians wouldn't know just how bad things were for the first colonists--two-thirds died within six months of their arrival) and it was buried with a captain's leading staff placed along the edge of the lid.
Gosnold was one of the Jamestown group's most accomplished men. In 1602 he had sailed to what is now New England. He led the construction of a fort on Cuttyhunk Island, and named Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard (in honor of his deceased infant daughter) before returning to England. On his return, he became one of the founders of the Virginia Company, which sent three ships and 104 men to found a colony in Virginia. Gosnold served as captain of theGodspeedand was named one of the directors of the colony. He was considered one of its most respected leaders.
If he was so good, why isn't he famous? Gosnold had the misfortune to be among the first wave of colonists to die, succumbing in August 1607, only three months after the settlers' arrival. The leadership fell to others and the fame to Captain John Smith.
Jamestown on the Web
Official anniversary website:www.jamestown2007.org
Here you'll find all of the events for the big Jamestown weekend and all over the Chesapeake Bay. This site also includes online games for youngsters, including Kids Commonwealth and mancala, an ancient game of counting and strategy.
You'll find lots of information about archaeological discoveries at the Jamestown site plus activities for young people, including a virtual archaeological dig and a virtual dig project module.
You can find out something about all of the activities available everyday and especially during the anniversary.
Voyages of Captain John Smith:www.johnsmith400.org
All about Captain John Smith's voyage of discovery as well as this summer's voyage of rediscovery on the Sultana shallop.
National Geographic's Chesapeake Past and Present:www.national geographic.com/chesapeake
Chesapeake Past uses sound, pictures and maps to detail John Smith's voyages on the Chesapeake.
Godspeed Travels in Virginia
April 26-27 Godspeed, Susan Constantand
Discoverywill be in Virginia Beach for first landing re-enactments.
April 28-30 Hampton
May 4-5 Newport News
May 6 Claremont and Surry County
May 11-13 Jamestown (Anniversary Weekend)
May 19-22 Henricus
May 24-26 Richmond
June 7-12 Norfolk for Sail Virginia
Sept. 13-16 Onancock
Sept. 20-22 Mount Vernon
Sept. 23-25 Quantico
Sept. 28-Oct. 1 Smithfield
Nov. 2-3 Urbanna
Nov. 9-10 Charles City
Nov. 16-17 New Kent County
Check with city websites for specific event information.
Virginia Tribes Events
Upper Mattaponi Powwow
May 26-28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Upper Mattaponi Tribal Grounds, 13414 King William Road, King William.
Grand Entry of tribal chiefs and dancers at noon Saturday and Monday, and at 1 p.m. Sunday. 804-769-3378;www.uppermatt aponi.org.
Kiptopeke Native American Festival
May 26-27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Kiptopeke State Park, 3540 Kiptopeke Dr., Cape Charles.
Showcasing history and culture of Eastern Shore Indians. 757-331-1040.
Chesapeake American Indian Festival
June 2-3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Chesapeake City Park, 500 Greenbrier Pkwy., Chesapeake.
Celebrates American Indian culture with storytelling, dancing, demonstrations, crafts, traditional drumming and singing. Several tribes will participate. Presented by the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association. Children's activities. 757-382-6411;www.cityofchesapeake.net.
Mattaponi Native American Powwow
June 16, 10 a.m.; Grand Entry at noon.
Mattaponi Indian Reservation, Route 625, King William
Native American dancing, drumming, food and crafts. 804-769-8783;www.baylink.org/mattaponi.
Chickahominy Tribe Powwow/Fall Festival
Sept. 22-23,10 a.m.-6 p.m., Grand Entry at noon Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday
Chickahominy Tribal Grounds, 8200 Lott Cary Rd., Providence Forge.
Longest running traditional powwow in Virginia. 804-966-2448;www.chickahominytribe.org.
For information on Virginia tribes history, begin atvirginiaindians.pwnet.org.
Anniversary Weekend at Jamestown
Special tickets will be required for admission to Jamestown's Anniversary Weekend. Tickets are for one day only and are good for parking, shuttle and admission to all entertainment programs as well as all Jamestown sites, including Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement and the new Anniversary Park. Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for children 6 to 12. For a detailed list of performers and events and to purchase tickets go towww.americas400thanniversary.com. To purchase tickets by phone call 866-400-1607.
Cruiser's Digest: Jamestown, Va.
As the first cruisers found it, today's James River remains "navigable upp into the country deepe." Its expansive and now-industrialized mouth, separating metropolitan Hampton and Newport News from Norfolk and Portsmouth, is deep with a wide, prominently marked channel. The James River lift bridge creates the only heads-up for sailboats unable to negotiate its closed position of 60 feet at high tide. Taller masts will need to call the bridge tender (757-247-2133).
Following the same northwesterly twists and turns of those first intrepid Englishmen, boaters gain a deeper appreciation of that initial journey to Jamestown Island, 33 nautical miles from Hampton Roads. And while floating there in the 21st century may not be fraught with as much uncertainty and hardship, it is still filled with wonder. Besides weaving past osprey, eagles, and the serenity of an undulating, mostly undeveloped shoreline, one is also rewarded with a close look at the spooky National Defense Reserve Fleet, commonly called the Ghost Fleet. Following World War II, a stretch of the river about 22 miles upstream from Old Point Comfort was designated as a repository for an assortment of unused ships, thought to be serviceable in future time of need. These aging rafted specters, however, are not just increasingly obsolete but proving to be environmentally hazardous as well and are being scrapped one-by-one.
Just beyond the Reserve Fleet, before the James takes a wide southerly jog, two charted passages lead to Goose Hill Channel and Jamestown Island: the main, multiple-buoyed Tribell Shoal Channel and a parallel unnamed route. The latter, though having few marks, is deep and easily navigated, saving a little time and mileage.
Dockside access to the Jamestown Visitors Center may mean tying up at far flung but amenity-filled marinas--everything from mom-and-pop yards to high-end resorts. Only one, Master Marine of Williamsburg (until recently Jamestown Yacht Basin) on Powhatan Creek adjacent to Jamestown Island, is within walking distance. However, this facility is limited to low profile, shoal-draft boats.
If unable to navigate Powhatan Creek's fixed 12-foot bridge--which is just off the James, connecting Jamestown Island to the Park Service peninsula which houses the living history exhibits and Visitors Center--a possible settled-weather anchorage is in the spacious but unprotected area north of the channel and west of the ferry dock, toward the mouth of the Chickahominy River. Under no circumstances are boats of any size permitted to land anywhere in the Colonial National Historical Park. But tenders plying the scenic Powhatan Creek will find their way to Master Marine of Williamsburg which offers dinghy dockage for a small daily fee. Take note that this space will be at a premium during significant quadricentennial events.
But boating visitors to Jamestown can choose from other marinas in the region and from which overland transportation may be arranged. Though farther away, Yorktown's Riverwalk Landing might prove most convenient of all since admission to one of the Historic Triangle attractions (Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown) enables transportation to the other locations. The bus ride, operating on a regular basis from April through October and free for those paying park entry fees, has an audio program describing the area's unique natural and cultural history. To plan your visit and obtain information about the Historic Triangle shuttle program, contact the National Park Service at 757-898-2410 or check online atwww.nps.gov/colo.
Kingsmill Resort and Spa James River at marker number 40 (757-253-1703). Approximately twelve road-miles from Jamestown--and a fully-recreational destination in itself--Kingsmill boasts floating docks, five restaurants (fine to casual), various sports activities and a European spa. In addition, it provides transportation to Williamsburg from which buses shuttle park-admission-paying tourists to both Jamestown and Yorktown.
Master Marine of Williamsburg (formerly Jamestown Yacht Basin) James River/Powhatan Creek (757-654-7714). Only a stone's throw from the Jamestown Visitors Center, dockage here is for vessels whose verticals can clear a 12-foot bridge and require no more than 3-foot depths. Marina management recently changed hands when the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization, purchased the property.
River's Rest Marina and Resort James
River/Chickahominy River (804-829-2753). This new mini-resort, about nine breathtaking miles up the Chickahominy, has floating docks, pool, motel, restaurant and, as a courtesy, conveys guests to nearby car rental agencies.
Riverwalk Landing York River/Yorktown (757-890-3370). In the heart of the historic and freshly rejuvenated colonial port of Yorktown, these new floating docks are convenient to the Yorktown Visitors Center, where admission includes transportation for the 22-mile ride to Jamestown.
Two Rivers Yacht and Country Club James River/Chickahominy River (757-258-4863). Just under eight miles away, Two Rivers is a private club honoring reciprocal agreements but not open to the general public. From here, cruisers with bikes stowed aboard can take advantage of the newly accessible section of the Capital Trail's cycle-pedestrian path. The first two completed phases run parallel to Route 5 and Greensprings Road, from the Chickahominy Bridge to the Jamestown Visitors Center.
Other marinas lying within a 25-mile radius of Jamestown Island include: Colonial Harbor Marina James River/Chickahominy River (804-966-5523); Smithfield Station James River/Pagan River (757-357-7700); York River Yacht Haven York River/Sarah Creek (804-642-2156). Taxi or rental cars are available: Yorktown Shuttle (757-890-2840); Enterprise Williamsburg (757-258-9199) or (757-220-1900); Smithfield/Surrey (757-357-9711).