Monday, June 27, 2016

Getting to Know Colonial - Week 4

It took me four weeks but I now can say I know more about the events of both Jamestowne and Yorktown than the majority of people who come to these sites. This is of course all thanks to spending a week with COLO’s interpretative rangers. As I met with Paul Carson, chief of interpretation and education at COLO, on Monday morning I knew I was in for a knowledge-packed week as soon as he said he wanted me to be treated as a visitor for the first couple days. Up to this point I really hadn’t had a chance to thoroughly tour the entirety of the unit and to take my time reading all the signs. For the entirety of both Monday and Tuesday I had the chance to accomplish both of the tasks I just mentioned.

The theater at Jamestowne
I spent Monday at the Yorktown side of COLO participating in all of the activities a visitor would do if they truly wanted the full package. I watched the introductory video, toured the museum, and joined along for the 45 minute battlefield walking tour. Then in the afternoon I embarked on my own and drove all 16 miles of the tour roads, stopping at each sign to read about the significance of that particular spot. A volunteer was manning the Moore house, in which the surrender document was drafted, so I made sure to make a stop there. Another volunteer was also stationed at the Yorktown National Cemetery Lodge. During my visit here I was able to learn about the events that took place in Yorktown during the Civil War. To wrap up my day I toured historic Yorktown and took in the sights and read the signs outlining the history of this storied town.

In the ruins of a church during an archaeological tour

My day on Tuesday followed a similar format with a change in location. I made the forty minute drive out to Jamestowne and played visitor there for the day. I started out with a ranger-guided tour around the Newtown and Oldtown (the fort the settler’s initially built and inhabited) areas of Jamestowne which gave me a solid introduction to the events that occurred here. I then decided it was time to spend some time in the AC and watched the introductory video and toured the museum. I then began the afternoon by partaking in an archaeological tour led by Preservation Virginia (an organization that shares ownership with the NPS on Jamestowne Island). This tour provided me with insight into the history that we’ve gleaned from excavating and studying the artifacts left by the settlers. I finished the day up with a drive through Jamestown’s tour roads and then made my way back home.

On Wednesday and Friday Ranger Carson deemed me ready to partake in some interpretation. On Wednesday I worked the information desk at Yorktown’s visitor center and on Friday I did the same over at Jamestowne. Being on the front-lines tested my knowledge and I had to redirect those with specific questions to a more knowledgeable ranger on multiple occasions. However, the experience was very enlightening and I learned more about the both the park and those who visit it.

Adrian and I striking a pose at the entrance to Jamestowne
I skipped over the events of Thursday because they were a bit out of the ordinary for me. On Thursday I had the pleasure of having visitors. Our very own Ranger Adrian Fernandez and his family stopped by for a day at COLO on their way to Florida. We started off the day with a very productive meeting with COLO’s Chief Ranger Steve Williams and I then spent the rest of the day trying to show them as much of the park as I could in the little time we had. We then wrapped up with a meeting with my supervisor Ranger Krebs and they were back on the road. My week in interpretation was another productive one and I’m glad I finally got the chance to get to know the park and learn the specific details of events that were so important that their legacies are now being preserved by Colonial National Historical Park.

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