Jamestown Island Travel Guide

  • Map of the island drive
    Map of the island drive
    by grandmaR
  • Loop drive map
    Loop drive map
    by grandmaR
  • Pitch and Tar Swamp
    Pitch and Tar Swamp
    by grandmaR

Jamestown Island Things to Do

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    by grandmaR Updated Oct 27, 2012

    We visited the glass house in 1964 and again in 2005. The furnaces had been excavated about ten years before our 1964 visit. The original reconstruction glasshouse that we saw in 1964 was destroyed by fire in 1974, and another one was built in 1976. There, you can see glassblowing performed by glassblowers, in clothing of the period. They produce common glass objects very much as they must have done almost 400 years ago. Today the glass furnace is heated by natural gas, rather than by wood as in 1608. Note that the 17th century techniques do not prepare the glass for modern day use. You can also view the original foundations which are under glass.

    Red ring (end) being shaped - 1964 glass blower hot glass being shaped - 1964 Glass blowing factory 2005 2005 - cooling glass
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    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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    by grandmaR Updated Oct 27, 2012

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    In addition to the old tower there is a church. The original church was built about 1640, but had a somewhat eventful life - it was burned in the Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, repaired and then abandoned about 75 years later and fell into a complete ruin.

    In 1907, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America erected a reconstruction church (the fifth one on the site) next to the original tower. This is the structure which visitors to Jamestown view today. The cobblestone foundations of the 1617 church, together with the brick foundations of the 1639 church, may be viewed under glass within the walls of the present church.

    2005 - church 1964 - tower 1964 Foundations viewed through glass 2005 - cemetery
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    • Archeology
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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    by grandmaR Written Apr 13, 2012

    This is the state park, which is about the first thing you come to on your way down the Colonial Parkway

    Under construction

    Village house and well

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Jamestown Island Transportation

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    by grandmaR Written Apr 14, 2007

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    The Great Road was the first English highway in America and traces of this road still exist. Some of them, considered in the light of documentary references, have made it possible to reestablish the route of the "Greate Road" formerly connecting the island and the mainland. It ran along the river shore, then turned inland and passed behind the church (which is behind the photographer). It continued over the swamp and cut across the isthmus near where you come onto the island today. Here, the roadway was 30 to 35 feet wide. It was repaired from time to time by smoothing out the ruts and adding a few inches of sand.

    The "Greate Road" from the mainland branched into two parallel east west roads in Jamestown. "Back Street" took an inland route. "Front Street" of the "Highway close to the river" ran near the riverbank of the 1700s. Houses were generall oriented to a road or to the ditches running alongside of the road.

    The National Park Service has built the 23-mile scenic motor road - the Colonial National Parkway between Jamestown and Yorktown. (second photo) The road is meant to give you a 'colonial experience' from the car. Practically speaking, this means that there is minimal signage and NO lines on the road. You have to be able to drive on the road without the normal road markings to keep you in your lane.

    The other two pictures are of the "Loop Road"

    The Great Road Colonial Parkway between Yorktown and Jamestown Sign about Streets in the City Loop Drive over the Marsh Looking out from the church
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    • Road Trip
    • National/State Park
    • Budget Travel

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Jamestown Island Favorites

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    by grandmaR Updated Apr 14, 2007

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    Favorite thing: I'm not exactly sure at which section of the marsh I took the first picture

    It could have been STOP 2

    Orchard Run-- The marshy inlet to your right empties into the James River. It formed the eastern boundary of Jamestown and may have taken its name from an orchard which was planted on land adjoining the run.

    We also saw the informational sign on Potash and Soap--(Painting 2) By the 1600s, hardwood lumber was scarce in England. Early exports of the colony were potash, used in the manufacture of glass, and soap ash, which yields liquid soap.

    To prepare potash and soap the ashes of hardwood logs were mixed with water, strained, and heated to a syrup-like consistency. The mixture could then be shipped to England. In time the colonists cleared all of the hardwood forests from Jamestown Island. Today's forest is regrowth, mostly of pine.

    And the Civil War Fort-- During the American Civil War the James River provided a natural avenue of approach to the Confederate capital in Richmond. In order to deny the use of fortified in 1861. Forts, such as the one you see here, and batteries were erected at strategic points.

    Or the marsh could have been at STOP 3
    Passmore Creek-- which takes its name from Thomas Passmore, a carpenter, who lived in the vicinity. Earlier it was known as the "Marshes of Goose Hill." Goose Hill itself was the higher strip of ground on the far side of the marsh.

    The third picture is of Harvesting Ice--(Painting) Among the ruins of Jamestown was a seven-foot pit, dug during colonial times. In 17th century England, perishables were often stored in huts built over pits filled with layers of ice and straw. The trapped frigid air could keep meat and daily products fresh until autumn. The hole found at Jamestown was very likely a traditional English ice pit.

    Fondest memory: STOP 6

    Trading With The Powhatan--(Painting - photo 4) At first, the English needed food from the natives in order to survive. The Powhatans sought the colonist's commercial goods: metal tools, glass beads, and copper. Exchanges could be forceful or friendly. The Powhatans sometimes offered corn as a gift; at other times, they refused contact, or attacked those who had come to trade. The English wrote home of successful trading, yet on occasion they stoke or raided at gunpoint.

    Black Point-- This tip of the island is known as Black Point. It was this part of the island that was first seen by the colonists as they sailed up river in 1607. At this time you have the opportunity to leave your car and walk the trail to Black Point where you will ave a panoramic view of the James River.

    The trail follows one of the ridges from which Jamestown Island was formed. On either side is a forest in the process of renewing itself. The ridge was once covered in hardwood, which was cleared by the English. The pine you now see is evidence of a forest in the process of regeneration.

    STOP 10

    Lumber--(Painting - photo 5) Colonists marvelled at the deep, tall forests of Virginia -- then set to clearing them away. The "goodly tall Trees" yielded firewood, fort walls, house frames, boat planks, barrel staves, industrial fuel, and lumber exports.

    Marsh The Hardwood Harvest Harvesting Ice Iron for Corn Excellent Good Timber
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Historical Travel

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Jamestown Island Travel Guide
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