Every now and then, we all get the longing for a little travel under our belts. And at this point, the most difficult thing about traveling (apart from saving the money) is usually deciding where we want to go. What new sights are there to see in the world? Luckily, the state of Virginia has a lot of that covered in a relatively small area. Historically significant to the country’s origins with great contributions through many of the most tumultuous periods, including the Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. The towns of Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg create a cluster trifecta within only miles of each other, all flanked by the scenic James and York Rivers, each of them offering several sites of history and entertainment.
Jamestown – the first permanent English settlement, established in 1607 under the Virginia Company, in what was later to become the United States of America. Jamestown served as the first capital after Virginia had become an official colony of England in 1624 and remained so until 1698 when strain between the English settlers and Algonquian tribes reached a breaking point after the deaths of Chief Powhatan and Pocahontas, forcing the English to move the capital to Williamsburg following conflicts that left Jamestown storehouses in ruin. Now the town of Jamestown features historic re-enactments of a Powhatan village and a replica of the ships that sailed from England in 1606 that would later help establish Jamestown. There are also galleries that provide historical information regarding the Virginia Company before the colony of Virginia was established and the beginning of trade that would later establish the controversial history of the slave trade in America.
After the fall of Jamestown, Williamsburg became the established capital of Virginia in 1699. It was city-building project spearheaded by Gov. Francis Nicholson in ambition of creating a “new and well-ordered city,” one that might uphold the highest standards as capital to the largest of the British colonies. Due to this ambition, the city quickly became a focal point of culture and society in the Virginia colony, drawing new citizens to it. For the following 81 years, it would certainly hit a high mark. The city’s university, the College of William and Mary, would provide the educational background for several key historical figures, including three future United States Presidents. Williamsburg also featured the erection of the first hospital in the country dedicated to mental illness in 1773. And soon after that, General Washington would lead a siege from Williamsburg to Yorktown, a siege that would eventually bring an end to the American Revolution and bring about independence from England. Due to great preservation efforts from the likes of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and historical recognition during a visit from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, much of colonial Williamsburg remains intact to this day for visitors to see in its almost exact likeness from 300 years ago.
Yorktown finishes what is known as the “Historic Triangle” within Virginia. It began as a small fort settlement built in 1620 which encouraged more settlers to it with the guarantee of safety. Captain Martiau had been granted land holdings for his efforts, though he died in 1657, and the effort to create a more permanent settlement was carried out by his grandson who sold 50 acres for the establishment of what was called “York Town” as a port town along the York River in 1691. This would later become crucial as Yorktown developed into a thriving post for trading all manner of goods, and its security provided a great deal of transportation of supplies to either side during the Civil War, depending upon who held the town at the time. Today, Yorktown features all manner of tourism such as hotels and restaurants while preserving some of its more aged heritage in museums and restored buildings, such as the Grace Episcopal Church – the oldest building in Yorktown, which has survived since its erection in 1697.