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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Jamestown Settlement & Colonial Parkway

We took the morning and went back to Jamestown to visit the settlement. Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne differ in that the Settlement is a living history museum of life during the early 1600s. There is a Powhatan Indian Village, a recreation of James Fort, and the three ships which brought the first settlers from England. Each of these exhibitions have costumed historical interpreters who chat with you and talk about their way of life.

In the Powhatan Village we had the opportunity to speak with an Indian maiden. She was stripping yucca leaves for making rope. She shared with us that the village is active year round, they plant and harvest crops and attempt to recreate life as it was in the 1600s. I was surprised that the settlement operated year 'round and that they actually harvest the crops of beans, tobacco and corn.

Down at the river were the three ships which brought the first settlers from England.
They are the Susan Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed. The Susan Constant is the largest of the three ships. Again, there were several interpreters who share their expertise with all who are interested. We spoke with a fellow who was knowledgeable in sea navigation. He showed us the instruments that were used back then and explained how they could gauge their speed and direction. He said much of what was used back then is still in use today, just fancier. :)

Since there were no drawings or pictures, they used the writings that have been found to recreate the buildings and size of James Fort. Just outside of the fort
were interpreters sharing the crops that were grown, canoe making, and boat building. All of the building, including the building of the fort, is done as it would have been in the early 1600s. We watched a canoe being made. They burn out the inside of the wood to make the sitting area of the canoe. It was quite interesting. The major money crop was tobacco, but that wasn't found until 1614, seven years after the colony was settled. Apparently, it took awhile to find a money making commodity.

From the settlement, we drove along part of the Colonial Parkway back to Williamsburg. It also goes from Williamsburg to Yorktown. This is a lovely, scenic drive that goes along the James and York Rivers. All along the way there are
pull-offs on the sides of the parkway that indicate significant events that happened in the area or just historical information. We learned that a group of Spanish Jesuits came in 1570 in an attempt to settle along what is now College Creek. Unfortunately within a year they were victims of a massacre.

We plan to drive the other half of the parkway tomorrow. We'll also drive the Yorktown Battlefield tour tomorrow. More to come . . .

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