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On the Riverfront

August 1-2, 2015
In connection with “Working and Racing on the Bay: The Chesapeake Log Canoe” special exhibition

Visitors heard sea chanteys, scraped out a Powhatan-style canoe and discovered the life of a modern waterman during “On the Riverfront” at Jamestown Settlement. The event launched month-long “Tools of the Trade” interpretive activities and featured the “Working and Racing on the Bay: The Chesapeake Log Canoe” a special exhibition on display through September 8.

The manner of making their boats, de Bry, circa 1590, The Mariners' Museum

Virginia Indians methodically fashioned canoes from single trees. Theodor de Bry colored engraving (circa 1590) after John White painting. From the collections at The Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, Va.

Working and Racing on the Bay: The Chesapeake Log Canoe” traces the evolution of the dugout canoe through the centuries, from the watercraft of the Powhatan people 400 years ago to multi-log trade vessels and work and racing boats. More than 100 objects from The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News are on display, as well as modern photographs of oysterers in the Chesapeake Bay.

Visitors received a “Chesapeake Log Canoe” exhibition brochure on arrival at Jamestown Settlement and toured the exhibition on their own throughout the day. Curator-led tours of the special exhibition were offered each day at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Near the special exhibition, visitors enjoyed performances by Shanty Grass at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Shanty Grass celebrates the traditions of Chesapeake Bay watermen with a unique blend of maritime-bluegrass Americana.

Tools-On the Riverfront, Aug 1-2, Jamestown SettlementOutdoors in the museum’s riverfront discovery area, visitors learned about life of a modern waterman from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Jeff Hogge, whose family has worked the waters of the Chesapeake Bay since the 17th century, demonstrated techniques of modern net-making, crab-potting and oyster-tonging.

A bounty of children’s hands-on activities were offered along the riverfront. Children crafted a take-home miniature boat at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and played period games such as corn-cob darts and quoits at 11 a.m. -1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.

The James River Association, a nonprofit educational organization, was on hand to teach visitors about the James River and efforts to protect it for future generations.

In the gazebo, visitors explored animals of the Chesapeake in a display by the Virginia Living Museum at 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 3 p.m.

Historical interpreters in the re-created Powhatan Indian village demonstrated the process of burning and scraping a log canoe throughout the day, allowing visitors the opportunity to use oyster shells to scrape out the vessel. Visitors also saw periodic demonstrations of tool-making, hide-scraping and cooking, and on catching fish.

At the ships’ pier, where the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery are moored, visitors took part in various nautical programs, such as piloting and celestial navigation. They also  learned the steps in firing a swivel gun.

On both days, historical interpreters in the re-created fort offered a special look at the process of making iron ore with the construction of a bloomery in the morning. In the afternoon, visitors assisted historical interpreters in cross-cut sawing. Visitors took part in a military drill and learned the process of firing a falcon artillery piece, followed by its firing.


On the Riverfront” is included with admission to Jamestown Settlement, $16.75 for adults and $7.75 for ages 6 to 12. A combination ticket with the The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, a museum of the American Revolution, is $21.00 for adults and $10.50 for ages 6 to 12.