Captain John Smith (1580-1631) was an English explorer who played a pivotal role in the exploration and settlement of America. His leadership at Jamestown, his contacts with Chesapeake Indians and his Chesapeake Bay voyages - documented in maps and journals - helped ensure the success of early English colonization efforts.
Captain John Smith created the first detailed map of the Chesapeake Region. His masterpiece map of Virginia, published in 1612, remained in active use for seven decades and opened this part of North America to European exploration, settlement, and trade. The geographical accuracy is astounding given that Smith traveled about 2500 miles in a series of short expeditions and had only primitive mapmaking tools to work with.
Smith's map records not only the geographic features of the Chesapeake, but also its cultural aspects, including more than 200 Indian towns. Many of the place names remain in use today.
Together with his journals, Captain John Smith's map provides an unparalleled record of what the Chesapeake was like four centuries ago.
Click here to learn more about Captain John Smith's and other historic maps of the Chesapeake.
Trail Maps Today
Detailed information about trail access sites, including maps and trail guides, is available at many locations and water trails around the Chesapeake Bay. Visit www.smithtrail.net/visit-the-trail/ to explore a map of the existing water trails that follow portions of John Smith's historic journey and the many other sites that offer access to the trail. The interactive map provides layers that you may toggle on and off as well as detailed information about each access point.
Download a copy of this map.
Did You Know?
The American Indian people of the Chesapeake region often relied on translators to work with the many languages and dialects that people spoke. Such translators were often instrumental in helping the Smith party communicate with people they met along their journeys.