“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Jamestown in James City County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Greate Road

The Greate Road Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 20, 2013
1. The Greate Road Marker
Inscription. The Greate Road, also called the Maine Cart Road and the Great Old Road, connected the isthmus of Jamestown with the mainland between the James and Back Rivers. Originally, it was a path established and used by Native Americans.

In May 1607, George Percy “espied a pathway…wee traced along some four miles…the ground all flowing over with fair flowers of sundry colors and kinds, as though it had been in any garden or orchard in England” that he followed to a Paspahegh Indian settlement. Early on, the Greate Road was used regularly by colonists to move goods between outlying areas and the port of Jamestown, but as tobacco cultivation spread throughout the mainland it was used extensively for rolling tobacco.

As tobacco production increased and the colony expanded, new paths and roads developed, all of which converged on the Greate Road.

Eventually, the Greate Road extended to Middle PIantation, the settlement that grew into Williamsburg and later became the colonial Capital of Virginia and the hub of its colonial road system. By the Civil War, and after more than 250 years of continuous use, the Greate Road was abandoned.

In the early twentieth century archaeologists rediscovered sections of this important thoroughfare in the form of deeply rutted road surfaces and flanking ditches.
The Greate Road Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 20, 2013
2. The Greate Road Marker
Today, traces of it are still visible near Glass House Point.

Desandrouins’ 1781 map showing the Greate Road extending from Jamestown to Green Spring Plantation, the seventeenth-century home and experimental farm of Governor Berkeley.

Bishop James Madison’s 1807 map showing the Greate Road as part of a rapidly expanding network of roads reflecting growth and development in Virginia. Courtesy Library of Virginia

Batteaux, hogshead rollers, and wagons like these were used increasingly throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to move goods throughout Virginia. Courtesy Library of Virginia
Erected by Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Capital Trail Foundation.
Location. 37° 13.667′ N, 76° 46.933′ W. Marker is in Jamestown, Virginia, in James City County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Jamestown Road (Virginia Route 31) and Colonial National Historic Parkway, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Williamsburg VA 23185, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Blockhouses Near Jamestown (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Argall Town (about 500 feet away); Delaware (about 600 feet away); Pennsylvania (about 600 feet away); New Jersey (about 600 feet away); Jamestown Settlement (about 600 feet away); French Troops At Jamestown (about 600 feet away); Georgia (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jamestown.
Categories. Colonial EraRoads & Vehicles
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 21, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 332 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 21, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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