The First English Settlement in VA

Jamestown, VA

November 01, 1999

While we were staying in Williamsburg we learned about Jamestown (less than 10 miles away). We decided that we would run down and take a look around. Unfortunately we had to make a decision whether to see the Jamestown Settlement (a type of living history museum) or to see the original Jamestown Site. After having spent several days seeing Williamsburg we felt that Jamestown might pale in comparison, so we went to the original site which is co-administered by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and the Colonial National Historical Park.
After paying the admission (or in our case using our Golden Eagle Pass) we stopped at the reconstructed Glasshouse. We were able to see a fully operational glass works, which was America's first factory industry. Glass blowing was brought over to America from England. Also, nearby you can see the ruins of the original glasshouse built in 1608.
From the Glass House, we went to the Jamestown Visitors Center and Museum, where they had exhibits and a 15 minute film, "Jamestown", which presents the Jamestown story. The museum contains one of the most extensive collections of 17th century artifacts in North America. In the museum were models of the three ships that brought the first settlers from England. They were the Godspeed, the Susan Constant, and the Discovery. They anchored in the James River on May 13, 1607, and established the colony of Virginia, with Jamestown as its capital.
The Park Rangers conduct two separate tours of the town site from the Visitor Center year round, or you may choose to stroll the quiet streets of Jamestown at your own leisure. Living history programs are offered weekends in the spring and fall, daily in the summer. The tours that are offered are the Old Towne Tour (which is the one that we chose to take), and the New Towne Tour. This tour explores the town that grew beyond the fort. Here you can discover the later years of Virginia's first capital.

The Ranger who conducted our tour was, Kirk Kehrberg. It never ceases to amaze me how the Federal Park Service is able to get people like Kirk that have so much enthusiasm and knowledge of their subject. It would be hard not to feel a good deal of interest in what he was talking about. He took us about the ruins of the early settlement and into the brick tower of a church built on the Island in 1639. He told us that they still have services in this church every Sunday.


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