Water Trail Revisits Capt. John Smith's Voyage

The sun sets over a section of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. i

The sun sets over a section of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail near Bishop's Head, Md. Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
The sun sets over a section of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The sun sets over a section of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail near Bishop's Head, Md.

Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
A restored wetland surrounds the bay at Holly Beach Farm near Annapolis, Md. i

A restored wetland surrounds the bay at Holly Beach Farm near Annapolis, Md., on the water trail. Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
A restored wetland surrounds the bay at Holly Beach Farm near Annapolis, Md.

A restored wetland surrounds the bay at Holly Beach Farm near Annapolis, Md., on the water trail.

Courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

For almost a century, European settlers to the Eastern United States used the amazingly accurate maps that British explorer Capt. John Smith made of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Smith produced the maps between 1607 and 1609, as he led an exploration of the bay and helped settle Jamestown, the first successful English colony in North America. To commemorate Smith's expedition, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and The Conservation Fund have created a water trail that covers Smith's 2,300-mile route.

The trail starts at Jamestown and takes visitors traveling by boat to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, into Delaware's Broad Creek and to the Potomac River. Since traditional trail markers don't work on the water route, "talking buoys" act as guides, linking trail visitors — whether in a kayak or at home on their computer — with information via cell phone or Internet-accessible devices.

During his exploration, Smith, who traveled in an oversized rowboat with a single canvas sail, often met and battled the Chesapeake's native Indians. The water trail identifies the approximate location of many Indian villages that existed in the 17th century.

Andrea Seabook took a trip down the water trail with John Page Williams, a naturalist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

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