Monday, June 04, 2007

Living history

We had a fabulous weekend! We went to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, to the town where my mom grew up, to see the John Smith boat come to shore. If you haven't heard about this, it's really amazing. A group of twelve people is retracing the route Captain Smith took when he explored the Chesapeake Bay almost 400 years ago. They are doing it in the same type of boat he would have used, called a shallop. If you'd like to read more about the project, go here.

Here's the shallop as it came upriver.

Here it is at the dock:
This shallop was built in Maryland specifically for this voyage. They left Jamestown on May 12 and will be returning on September 8. As one of the team members explained to me, this is not a reenactment, but a retracing. The route traveled by Captain Smith and his crew is the first National Historic Trail that is entirely on water. They are traveling that trail, and recording their observations along the way. One goal of the voyage is to record the differences between what Smith and his crew saw and what can be seen today.

Another reason I am so fascinated by this is that one of the original crew who traveled with John Smith is an ancestor of mine. This isn't just the country's history, it's part of my personal history, and that of my kids. I've known this for years, but seeing it acted out just made it so real to me, seeing the difficulty of their task, traveling into the unknown not once but twice, and coming back to tell the tale. I loved that.

If you live anywhere near the Chesapeake, you should definitely check out the website to see when and where you might be able to catch up with the shallop and its crew. They bring a traveling display with them that presents the history of the voyage, so it makes a great field trip.

1 comment:

  1. That is seriously so amazing and impressive!! I wish I lived closer and could see them!