The Jamestown settlement was about to fail, but then it found a crop it could sell to the folks back home for supplies and food. The crop that saved Jamestown? Tobacco. Uploaded by hill.troy.k12.mi.us.
What Sir Walter Raleigh and his Roanoke Island colonists failed to accomplish, the Jamestown settlers achieved: the first permanent English settlement in the New World. The first settlers arrived on Jamestown island on May 14, 1607, and though they endured hunger and disease and other hardships, they persevered.
Uploaded by kirkwood.k12.mo.us.
“Permanent” is somewhat misleading in this context, however. The settlement finally thrived once it based its economy on a profitable crop, tobacco. And Jamestown was the capital of the colony of Virginia until 1699, when it was moved to Williamsburg. Following that, Jamestown actually consisted mostly of farms, and housed no actual village.
Today, visitors to Jamestown can visit two historic exhibits, one operated by Virginia and one by the National Park Service. Jamestown Settlement grew out of Jamestown Festival Park, an exhibit created in 1957 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the settlement. Nearby is Historic Jamestowne, which has focused on unearthing archaeological relics that help tell what life in 17th century Virginia was like.
Most visitors to Jamestown stay in Williamsburg, which is connected to Jamestown by the historic Colonial Parkway – an enjoyable drive in itself.
No matter where you are on Roanoke Island, you're never far from beautiful water. And you're even within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean. Uploaded by marsheslight.com.
Manteo is the primary town on Roanoke Island, nestled inside North Carolina’s Outer Banks. You may know about its history — Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a charter to settle the area by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. Several groups of colonists tried to make it through the hardships, but when a supply ship returned after leaving the settlers for three years, it found no one alive on the island. Virginia Dare, the first child born to English colonists in the New World, had also disappeared.
Uploaded by city-data.com.
Today, that story is told in a seasonal outdoor drama called The Lost Colony (Great American Things, June 7, 2010). But that’s just one of the incredibly charming things about the little town of Manteo. I’ve done two posts on this site about the best small towns in America, and I won’t claim that Manteo is better than many other similar towns. I’m sure there are others with a restored lighthouse, Elizabethan garden, and a reproduction of a 16th century ship. But few have the Atlantic Ocean within walking distance, I’m fairly certain of that.
Naturally, Manteo is most alive in the summer, when tourists come to the famous beaches of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Hatteras Island. But it’s probably more interesting during other seasons, when Manteo Booksellers (the prototype of a charming, independent bookstore) isn’t crowded, and you can get a specialty coffee across the street at the Coffeehouse on Roanoke Island. If everything breaks our way, it’s where I’d love to retire. It’s a beautiful, quiet, very special place.
The Lost Colony production was planned to last for one summer. But then FDR came to see the show, and it opened again the next year. It's now entering its 73rd season. Uploaded by americaslibrary.gov.
The people of Roanoke Island, part of the Outer Banks on North Carolina’s coast, were looking for the proper way to celebrate the 350th birthday of Virginia Dare. (Young Miss Dare, as you may remember, was the first child born in the Americas to English parents.) They decided to stage a play to run for that one year — 1937. They called the production they created The Lost Colony. It enjoyed a good summer, but then President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to see it. He loved it, word spread, and its popularity grew such that it ran another year.
And another. And another. Now, 73 years later, it’s still thrilling new generations of visitors.
Uploaded by lostcolony.org.
During its historic run, more than four million people have enjoyed The Lost Colony. It’s the story of settlers in the New World in 1587 who sent their governor back to England for supplies. He wasn’t able to return until 1590, and he found the settlement deserted. The only clue was the word “CROATAN” carved on a post.
If you make it to Roanoke Island in the summer, head to Waterside Theater any evening (except Sunday) to enjoy this remarkable piece of history. You won’t have any trouble finding it: Roanoke Island is only eight miles long by two miles wide…
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.