Captain John Smith's Adventures on the James Historical

Captain John Smith's Adventures on the James Historical (HM1UPQ)

Location: Surry, VA 23883 Surry County
Country: United States of America

N 37° 8.765', W 76° 44.3048'

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Chippokes Plantation State Park

—James River beach —

Prior to unloading at Jamestown, the English sailed the James in search of a suitable location. In his account, George Perch recalls crossing to the southern shore on May 5, 1607 at the invitation of a chief he misidentifies as the "Werowance of Rapahanna." In fact, the expedition visited a Quiyoughcohannock village that appears on John Smith's 1612 map. Percy described the Quiyoughcohannock chief, or werowance, "playing on a Flute made of Reed...with two long Feathers in fashion of a paire of Hornes placed in the midst of his Crowne. His body was painted all with Crimson, with a Chaine of Beads about his necke, his face painted blew...and in either eare a Birds Claw."

Percy also admired the man's demeanor: "he entertained us in so modest a proud fashion, as though he had beene a Prince of civill government, holding his countenance without laughter or any such ill behaviour." It is possible that this chief was the same Chippoke who befriended the colonists and according to Smith, "did always at our greatest need supply us with victuals of sorts, which he did notwithstanding the continual wars which we had in the rest of the country; and upon his deathbed charged his people that they should forever keep good quiet with the English."

Shells as Thick as Stones
in the sandy cliffs at Chippokes Plantation reveal that shellfish have thrived in the Chesapeake Bay for millions of years. For Algonquians living along the lower James River, oysters and mussels were high-protein dietary staple. Virginia Indians also crafted jewelry of pearls and made razors from oyster shells. George Percy recalled that when exploring the Elizabeth River on April 28, 1607, "We got good store of Mussels and Oysters, which lay on the ground as thicke as stones: wee opened some, and found in many of them Pearles." The once abundant oyster reefs not only supply food but also contribute to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. By filtering sediment from water, oysters improve the habitat for underwater grasses and fish.

Capt. John Smith's Trail

John Smith knew the James River by its Algonquian name: Powhatan, the same as the region's paramount chief. Smith traveled the river many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia Indians to ensure survival at Jamestown. What he saw of Virginia's verdant woodlands and pristine waters inspired him to explore the greater Chesapeake Bay, chronicling its natural wonders.

Capt. John Smith's Trail on the James is a 40-site water trail and auto tour for modern explorers.
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Marker Number30
Placed ByCaptain John Smith's Trail, James River Association, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 345613 N 4112492
Decimal Degrees37.14608333, -76.73841374
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 8.765', W 76° 44.3048'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 8' 45.9000" N, 76° 44' 18.2895" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 77 State Rte 783, Surry VA 23883, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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