Near Jamestown Settlement in James City County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
John Smith Explores the Chesapeake
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
John Smith Explores the Chesapeake
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
To learn more about the trail visit www.smithtrail.net
Smith’s 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 Indian’s 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
Join the Adventure
Explore the places Englishman John Smith traveled in the early 1600s. Learn about the thriving American Indian communities he encountered and imagine the bountiful Chesapeake he observed. Experience the natural and cultural richness that exists in the region today.
The 3,000-mile Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail traces the exploratory voyages Smith conducted from 1607 to 1609 on the Chesapeake Bay and
Experience the Trail
• Explore rivers, coves, and open water by kayak, sailboat, or motor craft.
• Bicycle or hike along woodland trails and shoreline paths.
• Follow winding back roads through rural landscapes and historic villages.
• Visit places that celebrate American Indian heritage.
• See birds and other wildlife foraging in marshes, waterways, and forests.
• Attend festivals and demonstrations, or join a guided tour.
To learn more about the trail and to plan your adventure, visit
Captain John Smith’s Historic Voyage Routes
“Here are mountains, hils, plaines, valleys, rivers, and brookes all running most pleasantly into a faire Bay compassed but for the mouth with fruitful and delightsome land.”
– John Smith, 1612
Overlooking the Susquehanna River
Students aboard Discovery at Jamestown Settlement
Kayakers explore the trail
Indian dance demonstration at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
Erected by National Park Service, US Department of Interior.
Location. Touch for map. Located on a walkway between the parking lot and the beach house in Jamestown Beach Event Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2205 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg VA 23185, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Powhatan Indian Village (approx. 0.2 miles away); At Jamestown Began: (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ships (approx. 0.2 miles away); Susan Constant (approx. ¼ mile away); James Fort (approx. ¼ mile away); Voyage to Virginia (approx. ¼ mile away); Godspeed (approx. ¼ mile away); Discovery (approx. ¼ mile away).
Also see . . . Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. National Park Service (Submitted on August 30, 2016.)
Categories. • Colonial Era • Exploration • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 29, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 134 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 29, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.