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Williamsburg Area Features

Jamestown

Photo Credit: Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
The Early Beginnings of America at Jamestown
In 1607, three ships carrying 104 people from England approached the coast of Virginia. They made their way up what is now the James River and began a new life at Jamestown. Today, visitors can see the site where it all began at Historic Jamestowne and learn about the colonists and Native Americans who shared the land. At the Jamestown Settlement, they can experience what life was like in the early 17th century through compelling exhibits and interactive exchanges with personalities from the past.

Historic Jamestowne
1368 Colonial Parkway
Jamestown, Virginia
www.historicjamestowne.org • 757-856-1250

Jamestown is a time capsule that is not yet entirely unsealed as its story is still unfolding, and its soil is still rich with treasure. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than at Historic Jamestowne, the site of the original settlement. Strategically located, it afforded a good defensive position, and it was where some of this nation’s earliest forefathers established a tenuous foothold in a new world. They built a fort here. They practiced their religion and government here. They lived and died here, and their activities still echo through the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological excavation that is located here today. Beneath the feet of all who travel here rest the remnants of a nation’s birth.

The journey begins at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center. The museum features exhibits and a multimedia theater presentation about Jamestown’s 92 years as the capital of Virginia. From there, visitors can walk through the original James Fort site featuring reconstructed portions of the palisade walls exactly where they stood four centuries ago. Once believed to have eroded into the James River, nearly all of the fort site still exists on dry land, and the excavation of it continues to this day. Preservation Virginia’s Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists work within the public eye, and their findings are on display in the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium (pronounced ar-KEE-air-ee-um) archaeological museum.

Jamestown Settlement
2110 Jamestown Rd., Rte. 31 South
Williamsburg, Virginia
www.historyisfun.org • 888-593-4682

Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, brings the story of America’s first permanent English colony to life. The living-history museum illuminates the daily existence of the colonists and the confluence of English, Powhatan and west central African cultures in 1600s Virginia.

Through expansive artifact-filled exhibition galleries and an introductory film, this popular attraction has succeeded in duplicating the sights, sounds and even smells of the 17th century. And that is where visitors are immersed as they explore the story of America’s beginnings while venturing through the numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Within the palisade walls of Jamestown Settlement’s re-created 1610-14 fort stand a church, guardhouse, storehouse and governor’s house, all ready for exploration.  A re-created Powhatan Indian village features several reed-covered houses, crop field and ceremonial circle. Along the James River at the ships’ pier, re-creations of the three 1607 ships—Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery—are moored for visitors to explore. Climb aboard for a look the colonists’ accommodations on their four-and-a-half month journey from England.

Throughout all of these Jamestown Settlement venues, costumed historical interpreters engage visitors in activities of 400 years ago. Whether it’s grinding corn, preparing meals, steering a ship or shaping a canoe, hands-on experiences abound in this living-history arena.

TOURING TIP:  Take the naturally scenic Colonial Parkway between Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. The scenery is gorgeous and the traffic is minimal. Just be sure not to speed on this road since it’s within the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

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