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Jamestown History

About 400 years ago, on December 20, 1606, three merchant ships loaded with passengers and cargo embarked from England on a voyage that would later set the course of American history.

The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery reached Virginia in the spring of 1607. All 104 passengers were men and boys . They began building on the banks of the James River  America's first permanent English colony, built 13 years earlier than  Plymouth in Massachusetts.

Jamestown Settlement is located about a mile from the original site and 10 minutes from the Historic Area.  There are replicas of the three 1607 ships. In the museum's re-created fort, you can see how the colonists brought English customs, religion, dress, food and building styles to the New World.

More can be learned about Pocahontas, the Indian maiden who befriended the English colonists in a re-created Powhatan Indian village.  The English Gallery describes political, social and economic conditions that led to English to come to the New World. You can see map making, ship design and navigation made long voyages possible.

The Powhatan Indian Gallery traces the movement of people into Virginia beginning more than 10,000 years ago. Shortly before the English arrived in 1607, the powerful leader Powhatan had control over 32 Algonquian-speaking tribes in coastal Virginia. Visitors may visit the Powhatan Indian village where costumed interpreters discuss and demonstrate the Powhatan way of life. There are several dwellings, a garden and a ceremonial dance circle

The Jamestown Gallery shows the development of the Virginia colony from a outpost at Jamestown. Once colonists grew tobacco as a cash crop, they finally had enough money to keep going. Tobacco had a lot to do with the need for slaves who worked in the fields.

The first representative assembly met at Jamestown in 1619. The town was capital of Virginia until 1699 when the seat of government moved to Williamsburg.

From the Indian village, a path leads to a pier where the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery are docked. Visitors can talk with costumed interpreters about the four-and-a-half month voyage from England.

Triangular James Fort has been recreated to be like the one Jamestown colonists built their arrival in 1607. Inside the wooden stockade are buildings with thatched roofs representing Jamestown's earliest buildings. There are homes, a church, a store house and an armory. Interpreters can answer questions on agriculture, animal care, blacksmithing and the how cooking meals.

Visitors can touch 17th century reproduction items including stone and bone tools in the Indian village, navigation instruments aboard the ships and armor in James Fort. Visitors can also try gardening, cooking, drilling with the Jamestown militia, playing games, tying nautical knots and a variety of other activities.
The museum, located on Route 31 South, is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. daily, except Christmas and New Year's days.

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