John Smith Explores the Chesapeake
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay in the early 1600s seeking precious metals and a passage to Asia. He traveled the James, Chickahominy, and York rivers in 1607, and led two major expeditions from Jamestown in 1608. Smith and his crew sailed and rowed a primitive 30-foot boat nearly 3,000 miles, reaching as far north as the Susquehanna River.
Although Smith did not discover gold, or a river to the Pacific, his precise map and detailed observations of American Indian societies and the abundant natural resources guided future explorers and settlers.
At the time of Smith's explorations, an estimated 50,000 American Indians dwelled in the Chesapeake region—as their ancestors had for thousands of years. Their sophisticated societies included arts and architecture, systems of government, extensive trade and communication networks, and shared spiritual beliefs. The native people hunted, fished, grew crops, and gathered food and raw materials from the land and waterways.
An Abundance of Life
Smith discovered a treasure trove of natural wonders in the Chesapeake region: thick forests of giant pines, oaks, and hickories; vast marshlands, huge turtles, 800-pound sturgeon, and great schools of shad and striped bass. Massive flocks of ducks, geese, and swans darkened
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Smithís remarkably accurate map of the Chesapeake Bay (published in 1612), and his spirited written accounts of a lush landscape inspired European migration.
Decorative shells-such as those found on this ceremonial robe-were valuable in the American Indianís trading network that extended for hundreds of miles. This robe (which may have belonged to paramount chief Powhatan) was crafted from four elk skins and adorned with more than 17,000 shells.
Wood ducks and other waterfowl flourished
The forests and lowlands teemed with deer
Cattails grew thick in pristine marshes
Flocks of geese filled the sky
Erected by National Park Service US Department of Interior.
Location. 36° 51.05′ N, 76° 29.038′ W. Marker is in Suffolk, Virginia. Marker is on Bennetts Creek Park Road. Touch for map. The marker is located in Bennett's Creek Park near the fishing pier and boat launch. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, Suffolk VA 23435, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Glebe Church (approx. 1.9 miles away); Florence Graded School
Categories. • Colonial Era • Exploration • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 4, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 30, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 165 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 30, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.