In the year 1607 three ships full of colonists landed on the bank of the James River in what we know today to be Virginia to undertake a business venture. The settlement that they established was names Jamestown. This was the first permanent English settlement in America and from this group of men, our nation was born.
Today, you can visit two museums that tell the story of Jamestown. One is the actual site of the settlement and what you will see there are archaeological digs, their resulting finds, and the layout of discoveries that continue every day of the settlement. This is run in a joint venture by the National Park Service and the Society of the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. That attraction is called Historic Jamestowne and we visited there in our Roadtrek a year ago. This year our Roadtrek brought us to the other museum dedicated to Jamestown - Jamestown Settlement.
Jamestown Settlement is a privately run living history musuem. Here you will see the settlement of Jamestown brought to life by living history interpreters recreating life in Jamestown within a replica of the original fort that was built, in the native village of Powhatan, and on the three ships that brought the colonists from England. In addition, there is a large musuem filled with artifacts, displays, and presentations to fully explain life in the "New World".
When you are ready to leave the ships, you return on your own now to the fort. Spend time in the fort. Look at the various buildings - inside and out. Talk to the people. There is even armor out for you to try on. When you are ready to move on again, return to the Powhatan Village and see everything there.
When you have seen all of the outside living history attractions, come back up the path that you took down to the Powhatan Village and return to the musuem building. Start your exploration of the museum, not at the end where you just came back inside, but go down the hallway to the beginning. The museum is arranged by years. At the start of the museum's presentation, you will see first what Virginia was like before the colonists arrived. You will learn about the native people and how they lived. The museum then moves along to show you what life was for the colonists in England. Some of these men were quite wealthy - this colony was a business venture. They were coming to make money more than anything else. You will see various rooms from homes of different classes of people. And you will learn that what they were after was gold - and in this part of Virginia there is no gold - though they would not know that. What they found was tobacco and with that the colony succeeded. In the museum you will learn more about the voyage. You will see artifacts from the colonists. You will learn about the real Pocahontas - not the Disney version or the myths. You will see how the settlement developed and how it grew to be the first capital of Virginia and then later was abandoned for a somewhat more comfortable environment up river to Williamsburg.
Plan on spending a full day at Jamestown Settlement. I recommend seeing this first before you go to Historic Jamestowne, the NPS site where it all really happened. You will have a much better understanding of what is abstractly shown at the original site, if you see it come to life first at Jamestown Settlement. This is one of the must sees - both sites are - when you come to this part of Virginia. And it will help you appreciate what you see at Williamsburg as well and what it took to birth a nation.
|Tobacco - Virgina "Gold"|
|Armor brought from England to be worn in the Virginia heat!|