|Jamestown's 400th anniversary gives birth to a universe of activities across the Bay.|
by Jody Argo Schroath
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 replicaship
Godspeed, 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.
we talk about Jamestown, of course, we are talking about not one
Jamestown, 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, Godspeed and 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 materials 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?
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.
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 the Godspeed and one of the colony's
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
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.
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, visit www.jamestown2007.org. You'll find ticket information there, too, and in the sidebar on this page.
All Over the Bay Events
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 thewww.jamestown2007.orgsite.)
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.
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
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. (www.wateraccess2007.com).
The Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg (www.vptheatre.com)
is currently showcasing a historical play, Smith, Being the Life and
Death of Cap'n John by 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 check www.jamestown2007.org/calendar.cfm. You can search by date and area.
Events with Boats
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, Susan Constant and 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.
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.
replica ships will leave Virginia Beach on April 28, as the Godspeed
takes the lead in the Signature Event called Journey up the James. The
Godspeed will 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
information on participating marinas, call 800-487-8778.)
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].
events are planned to coincide with official stops of both the shallop
on its re-enactment voyage and the Godspeed as 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 at www.buoybay.org.
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!
Cruiser's Digest: Jamestown, VA.
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).
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
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.
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.
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 at www.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).