“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Hampton Roads – World’s Greatest Harbor

Historical Events Passing the Shores of Olde Wythe

Hampton Roads – World’s Greatest Harbor Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
1. Hampton Roads – World’s Greatest Harbor Marker
Inscription. The body of water before you, named Hampton Roads, is one of the world’s biggest, deepest, natural harbors. It is formed at the mouths of the James, Nansemond and Elizabeth Rivers and empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The name Hampton Roads honors Henry Wriothesley, the third Earl of Southampton. The nautical term “roads” means a place less sheltered than a harbor, where ships may ride at anchor.

Thoughout the course of history, Olde Wythe’s shores have seen many events that shaped the world. On May 13, 1607 Capt. Christopher Newport led his three ships through Hampton Roads and up the James River where the first permanent English colony was established.

During the War of 1812, on June 25, 1813, the British launched a surprise attack on the town of Hampton, landing before dawn between what is known today as Indian River and Robinson Creeks. As a result of the War of 1812, the U.S. Government decided to improve the defenses of the coast from foreign invasion with the construction of Fort Monroe in 1819. On March 8, 1862, the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia (previously the USS Merrimack) entered Hampton Roads from the Elizabeth River, intent on destroying the Union blockading fleet. A historic battle now known as the “Battle of the Ironclads” took place. This battle changed naval warfare forever.

Chesapeake Ave & Alleghany Rd image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
2. Chesapeake Ave & Alleghany Rd
1907, the Atlantic battleship fleet was assembled in Hampton Roads in connection with the Jamestown Exposition. On December 16, with President Theodore Roosevelt present, 16 battleships, painted white with gilded scrollwork on their bows, embarked on the first round-the-world cruise in an effort to show the strength of the U.S. Navy. The battleships were later dubbed the “Great White Fleet.”

Across the harbor you see the Norfolk Naval Station, established in 1917 on land from the Jamestown Exposition. As the largest naval complex in the world, the base serves as the headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet, NATO, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command, and is the home port of the Second Fleet.

During both World Wars, Newport News was designated as an Army Port of Embarkation, due in part to its Hampton Roads location. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers passed this point as they went to their assigned posts overseas and returned here after the wars. On October 17, 1942, Major General George Patton and his men sailed past this location in route to the invasion of North Africa.

Today Hampton Roads continues to support the economic diversity of the area including shipping, fishing, and the abundant military presence and is one of the largest and busiest ports in the United States.

Bringing History to Life
For more neighborhood information visit:
For more visitor information visit:
In partnership with Virginia Civil War Trails,
Erected by Olde Wythe Neighborhood Association.
Location. 37° 0.042′ N, 76° 22.049′ W. Marker is in Hampton, Virginia. Marker is on Chesapeake Avenue (Virginia Route 167) near Alleghany Road, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hampton VA 23661, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Admiral Sir George Cockburn on the Chesapeake / The War of 1812 (here, next to this marker); Olde Wythe During Colonial Times (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Hampton Roads Golf And Country Club (about 500 feet away); The Development Of Olde Wythe (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fertile Hunting Grounds For The Indians (approx. 0.3 miles away); Indian River Park – In The Heart Of Olde Wythe (approx. 0.3 miles away); Sack of Hampton / The War of 1812 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Stalemate in Hampton Roads (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Hampton.
More about this marker. On the lower left is an "Undated photo of the fishing camp that was located along Hampton Roads shoreline in the 2200 block of Chesapeake Avenue."

On the upper right is a photo of The "Great White Fleet" leaving the harbor on its around the world trip."
Also see . . .
1. Olde Wythe Neighborhood Association. (Submitted on August 2, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. Memories and History of Hampton Virginia’s Olde Wythe Neighborhood. (Submitted on August 2, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
3. Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau. (Submitted on August 2, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
4. Virginia Civil War Trails. (Submitted on August 2, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. Industry & CommerceMilitaryNatural ResourcesWar of 1812War, US CivilWar, World IWar, World IIWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 944 times since then and 82 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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