The highlight of the weekend was Jamestown and although there is parking at the visitor center, there were so many people that we had to park in colored coded lots around the city and be bused into the site. After arriving at the visitor center, we proceeded through the metal detectors, just as if we were at the airport. All precautions were taken to make this anniversary weekend enjoyable for everyone.
From the visitor center we had to board another bus which took us to the actual Jamestown settlement. After a short walk over a wooden bridge that crosses a swampy marsh, we ended up on the coast of the James River. This area is known as James Fort, a triangular fort which contained the original settlement. The 400th anniversary celebration will be more memorable than all the other previous celebrations because of the recent discovery at the site. For the past 200 years the actual location of James Fort had been considered lost due to the erosion of the James River and the sea wall which was built in 1900. Then in 1996 an archeological team began trying to find the location of the settlement. Their diligence and determination paid off when they discovered James Fort and realized that the sea wall which was built actually helped save Jamestown.
During our visit, the archeological team was still in the process of uncovering the rest of James Fort. One of the archeologist uncovered pieces of a vase which was amazing considering that it had been buried under the ground for 400 years. The archeologists are very friendly and are willing to answer any questions that you have. The sight of watching an actual archeological dig uncovering 400 year old artifacts was truly a remarkable experience. Since the excavation, thousands of artifacts have been recovered which are on display at the Archaearium, a museum located on the site. Among the many artifacts discovered, grave sites of the original settlers have been unearthed as well as much of the fort to include several houses and wells.
After arriving back at the first visitor center, we explored the Powhatan Indian Village. This village is an interactive experience to learn the way of life of the Powhatan Indians. The world of Pocahontas comes to life where visitors watch interpreters’ process animal hides, process food, and make tools and pottery. Visitors may even try their hand at grinding corn or playing a game of corncob darts.
I proceeded down to the waterfront from the Powhatan Village where I was greeted with three enormous sailing ships. These ships are replicas of the ones that brought the original settlers to Jamestown. The ships known as the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery are moored in the James River. Visitors can walk the gang plank onto the ship and relive the four and a half month journey.
This visit to Jamestown has to be one of the most memorable of all of my journeys so far. The experience of witnessing the rebirth of America after 400 years and knowing that I was part of the celebration is one that I will treasure forever.