• The working watermen community of Tangier Island VA at sunset. Photo by Starke Jett.

    Chesapeake Bay

Significant John Smith Trail Site Now Preserved

Aerial view of Werowocomoco
An aerial view of the archeological core of Werowocomoco, on the York River in Gloucester County, VA.
Virginia Department of Historic Resources

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Date: June 25, 2013
Contact: Cindy Chance, 410-260-2492

On Friday, June 21, nearly 300 people gathered to celebrate the protection of the Indian town of Werowocomoco, the principal residence and headquarters of the influential secular and spiritual Indian leader Powhatan when Jamestown was settled in 1607.

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) worked with property owners Lynn and Bob Ripley to protect the archeological core of the site, nearly 58 acres of fields and woodlands on the north bank of the York River, with an easement held by VDHR. The site was identified through archeological investigations in 2002. Archeology continues at Werowocomoco under the leadership of the Werowocomoco Research Group, formed by VDHR as a partnership with the College of William and Mary, other scholars, and with Virginia Indians.

Werowocomoco lies along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail which interprets Smith's voyages and American Indian societies then and descendant communities today. The National Park Service is collaborating with VDHR to produce an illustrated book designed for visitors and the general public on the story of Werowocomoco. At Friday's formal dedication celebration, NPS Associate Director for Cultural Resources Stephanie Toothman described this upcoming project as a collaboration of NPS, VDHR, the Virginia Indian Advisory Board, the Werowocomoco Research Group, and the Ripleys.

Captain John Smith visited Werowocomoco twice, and recorded that it was the place where he and Powhatan met, and where he befriended Powhatan's young daughter Pocahontas. The site is identified on Smith's maps of 1608 and 1612, and is about 15 miles from Jamestown. Archeologists have identified unique features at the site including the footprint of a 72-foot longhouse, and have found that the town was settled at least as early as 1200 A.D.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell spoke at the ceremony on June 21st as did representatives of seven Virginia Indian tribes, NPS Associate Director Stephanie Toothman, Lynn and Bob Ripley, VDHR Director Kathleen Kilpatrick, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech, and other dignitaries.

Did You Know?

Striped Bass

The Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals, including 348 species of finfish, 173 species of shellfish and over 2,700 plant species.