Historic Old Virginia!

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Day 41 – Thursday May 31, 2007 – Jamestown & Yorktown, Virginia

I have to admit when I finally woke up this morning Jasmine was a little mad at me. I didn’t get out of bed until 11am as I had trouble falling asleep last night. We finally got on the road at about noon. The first stop of the day was the Jamestown Colony.

Jamestown was the original English speaking permanent colony in North America. It was established in 1607 and was chartered by the King of England. Perhaps the most famous resident of Jamestown was John Smith who was rescued by the Native American princess Pocahontas. Jamestown is part of a National Historical Park that is run by the National Park Service. The entrance fee (which also includes Yorktown) is $10 per adult. Our National Parks Pass covered this though.

When we entered the visitor’s center, the first thing we did was visit the large museum contained within it. The museum consisted mostly of historical artifacts that have been excavated over the past 15 years from the Jamestown site. With exhibits ranging from weapons to pottery, we were able to see many artifacts dating back to the original days of the colony. After going through the museum, we watched a 30 minute video about the history and early days of the colony.

When the video was over, we headed outside to tour some of the ancient (by North American standards) sites. The first building in sight after crossing the bridge from the visitor’s center was the colony’s church. The new church building was built 100 years ago on the same plot of land as the original church. In fact, the foundation of the original church building can still be seen. Right behind the church was the site of the fort that the early settlers used to protect themselves from the Native Americans.

Just about three weeks ago, Jamestown celebrated it’s 400th anniversary. All three of us immersed ourselves in the history as we walked around the grounds. Just past the old fort, the NPS had another museum featuring some more artifacts along with a couple of skeletons that were recovered during the excavations. This building was constructed a couple of years ago after the land beneath it was completely surveyed for artifacts. After taking the time to tour the grounds of the old colony and getting bit almost to death by various insects, we decided to head over to Yorktown.

Yorktown is about 20 miles away from Jamestown in Virginia. It was the site of the most decisive battle in the Revolutionary War. General George Washington led over 17,000 American and French Troops against General Cornwallis of England and won a major victory. At Yorktown, not only are many of the old buildings preserved, but so are the battlefields. These battlefields, in addition to being used during the Revolutionary War, were also used in the civil war.

We again started in the visitor’s center with a museum and then a video about the history. From there we boarded a free trolley that gave us a 20 minute tour of Yorktown including some of the buildings. A few of the houses here date back to the early 1700’s and survived both wars. In fact one of the houses has both a cannon ball from the Revolutionary War and one from the Civil War stuck in it’s side.

Walking on the large grassy fields and in the trenches of the battlefield gave us a sense of the history. The shape of the land is still the way they left it hundreds of years ago. All of the defensive trenches remain in tact. The area even has several preserved cannons on display. It is quite a surreal experience. After the trolley tour returned, we walked around the battlefield and then went through downtown Yorktown taking a closer look at all of the historic buildings.

After our walking tour, we decided to do the 7 mile battlefield car tour. It basically consists of a seven mile journey with signs along the road. The signs, appear wherever something important occured and explain what happened at that place. It took us from the battlefield, to Washington’s headquarters, to the ravine that the American Troops used for cover as they approached Yorktown. I found it extremely informative and interesting. Shawn Reece even took a great interest in what happened there.

By the time we completed the driving tour it was pushing 6:30pm so we decided to head back to the hotel. Tomorrow we are driving up to Washingotn D.C. We are going to stay in D.C. until Tuesday evening when we will move on to Baltimore and then Philadelphia. This marks another “leg” of our trip starting, since we are approaching the northeastern cities. It also marks another change of scenery on this trip! We are going from wide open green spaces to the many different spaces found in big cities!

We want to thank everyone for the comments and emails. Your support is truly appreciated and keeps us going.

The Coomer Family


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