From Richmond, I went further east in Virginia, and deeper back into history, to the Historic Triangle of Virginia which is composed of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg.
First up, Historic Jamestowne, and John Smith, marking the area near where the Discovery, Susan Constant and Godspeed dropped anchor, and English settlers first set foot on American (or should I say, Powhatan) land.
The tower dates to 1639.
Inside the the recreated church, which was built in 1907 upon the foundations of the 1617 and 1639 church foundations, where the first legislature in America met. There was a short Sunday church service done by a park service interpreter. It was pretty intimate, there being less than ten visitors there. I’m not religious, but there was a special spiritual feeling to it, to offer a prayer in a place that heard those same prayers nearly 400 years ago.
The back, with John Smith peeking through to the left.
Jamestown Tercentennial Monument.
During the Civil War, Confederate troops built earthworks like this, near where the original fort would have been.
Ye olde tavern (I’m joking, it was called Swann’s Tavern), the nearest surviving ruins next to, where else? the church! From what I know, one of the ancestors I can trace my family tree back to, Stephen Hopkins, may have spent too much of his time here. In seriousness, I don’t know if it would have been operating when he was there, though.
Just some more generic ruins.
In Georgian style, the Ambler House, burnt first during the Revolution, then burnt down again by fleeing slaves in the Civil War, and finally abandoned after a third fire in 1895.
I just thought this tree had an expressiveness to it.
This is on the outskirts of town, around where another relative of mine (I have two, one from my mother’s and another from my father’s side) would have lived.
With picturesque pathway.
Pocahontas looking more like Q’orianka Kilcher than she probably did.
Yorktown, British line. This is where Tea Partiers might have found themselves, fighting against those anti-colonialists.
A view to the left.
The French line. I’ll reserve my white flag snark. They helped win this one, and thus, Independence.
Civil War cemetery smack dab in the middle of the Yorktown battle site.
A cute little family cemetery over the wall. French flag in the background.
Continental Army line.
Blue Heron? One could really get a feel for topography, how a marshy, forested area separated the Continental and British encampments.
Moore House, where terms of surrender were negotiated.
Monument at Yorktown, celebrating the victory of the Revolution. I complain a lot about people getting in my shot, but in this one was a family trying to get their (Junior High-ish looking) boy interested in what he was looking at and making him read everything. I was happy to be patient for this. This is completely different than people just plain being inconsiderate. Plus, they seemed to be aware of me and how to extend courtesy. I with body language, tried to indicate as much as possible, I did not mind.
Colonial Williamsburg. The old capitol building. An ancestor of mine donated the land this was built on.
Basic street scene. I chose a picture without the anachronistic traffic cones and Virginia Power trucks, or William & Mary coeds in little more than sports bras (not that I was complaining about that).
Inside a inn, here is where the tables would have been aside and dancing done. Of course, the original carpet does not survive, but they sent off to a company in England, still in existence who was able to dig up the original pattern and recreate it. Maybe it would have been best to have let this pattern be forgotten…
Another cheesy scene.
Ye olde blacksmith. Actually, I often wonder about guys like this. How interesting they must be. Here he’s just making perfunctory nails. They try to be self sustaining wherever possible. Of course, I’d seen this kind of thing as a kid at Fort Vancouver (of the Hudson’s Bay Company) in my hometown. I’m sure we all have our own little “Williamsburgs” around the country. It was sort of like reliving a bit of childhood.
Halberds, muskets, swords and drums galore inside the town magazine (fun fact, that’s an Arabic word). At a gunsmith elsewhere, I held a musket which I assume was a Brown Bess. Since I’ve always read they were heavy, it was lighter than I’d expected. Then again, lugging it around can’t have been fun, especially when it’s a foot short of a man of average height.
The drummer in me had to get one of a tension cord field drum with good ol’ gut snares.
A charming garden.
Bruton Parish Church, where Jefferson, Washington, George Mason, and Patrick Henry worshiped (or pretended to for appearances).
It even had a plaque to Confederate soldiers.
The Governor’s Palace, lived in at one time by governors Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. The last Colonial governor was John Murray, whom after the loss of Royal sovereignty to the rebellion, was transferred to the Bahamas. Meh, not so bad a fate. I’m sure it had better weather than Scotland. Of course, we’re talking about recreations here, but built on the sites where the originals would have been.
The whole foyer was covered with latticework of the blade like this. Included for no other reason than I think it’s totally bad ass. Before the tour, the interpreter was asking people where they were from, making the point that the colonies claimed everything to the west, pretty much. Most people were from around the East, no further west than Ohio. When I said Arizona, she was surprised, a little flummoxed, and finally eked out a “well, I suppose Georgia,” but quickly moved on. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was a Spanish spy. She might have been more friendly if I were still from the Columbia District?
The gardens behind the palace.
Reverse of the palace.
Closeup of the period Hanoverian Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.
Do not enter.
More of the tiered gardens behind the palace.
One last shot of the palace.
There was a bit of a storm in which an apothecary offered a group of us shelter, and then this man, the printer, offered his neighbor’s stoop to stand under.
Just an askew street scene, with a boy playing with a chicken.
Some of the whimsical signage was adorable – even in if in a non-PETA endorsed way.
My dessert at the Blue Talon Bistro. The first time there, I had a Pernod. This night, you can see from the absinthiana what brand this was. (And, I’m fully aware that they’re both average products despite their pre-ban pedigree, but The New York Times wasn’t as harsh as hard-core connoisseurs with their 1910 caches from La Belle Époque can be!)
The man let the water trickle gently into his glass, and as the green clouded, a mist fell from his mind. / Then he drank opaline. – Ernest Dowson, “Absinthia Taetra.”
After finishing this, I started lasciviously eying the lady holding up the fountain. The Green Fairy had taken her bite!
I didn’t show pictures of Lafayette’s field or Surrender field at Yorktown. They’re just fields. Pretty, but not photogenic and practically indistinguishable. I can link to pictures on NPS pages or that others have taken if one is interested.
All in all, I enjoyed Jamestown much more than Colonial Williamsburg. Perhaps the coolest thing about the latter was seeing the campus of Jon Stewart’s alma mater adjacent the historic site. If I had kids, or had some fun drugs, I would highly recommend it. Call me a nerd, but the ruins, as bare as they be, felt more authentic to me than what was almost a Disneyland-like atmosphere to Williamsburg. Not to take away the great work they do, but it was often hard at times to remember parts of Williamsburg were actually real.
Of course, a highlight at Colonial Williamsburg was when a man with a heavy Deep Southern accent complained to an interpreter about the British flags everywhere. After all, he fumed righteously, this is ‘Murika! The interpreter, in character, tried patiently explaining that the town is representing the Colonial town before the American Revolution. But the man became more insistent and gruffly, before walking away in a huff, said that he’d prefer they flew the Stars and Bars.
So, I can’t say I didn’t have fun!