The Historic Triangle is an arrangement of three historic colonial communities located on the Virginia Peninsula of the United States. The points that form the triangle are Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. They feature many restored attractions and are linked by the Colonial Parkway in James City and York counties and the City of Williamsburg.
Describing the significance to America of the 3 main points of the Historic Triangle, the Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church and co-founder of Colonial Williamsburg stated "Williamsburg is Jamestown continued, and Yorktown is Williamsburg vindicated."
The National Park Service's Colonial Parkway joins the three historic attractions of Colonial Virginia with a scenic and bucolic roadway carefully shielded from views of commercial development. Intended to help visitors mentally return to the past, there are often views of wildlife and waterfowl along the roadway (and crossing it). The only human development that can be seen from most of the parkway are the two loading piers of Cheatham Annex, part of the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown which borders the inland side of much of the parkway, a testament of how this area still plays an important role in the United States Military.
Near the James River and York River ends of the parkway, there are several pull-offs, where some families allow their children to feed bread to the seagulls. The Colonial Parkway is free of tolls or user fees.
The Parkway starts in Yorktown, passes through Colonial Williamsburg and ends in Jamestown. No commercial vehicles are allowed to use the parkway for transportation, although commuter traffic has picked up drastically in the past decade.
To approach a return-to-the past experience in the Historic Triangle, some visitors approach the area from the south side of the James River by water from Surry County via State Route 10 and State Route 31 (the John Rolfe Highway) and a ride from Scotland Wharf to Glass House Point aboard one of the four Jamestown Ferries, which include the Pocahontas and Williamsburg. As passengers cross, they can leave their vehicles and can walk about or go up to an enclosed viewing level with restrooms.
During favorable weather and daylight hours, northbound passengers usually see the Jamestown Island much as the first colonists may have approached it. Replicas of Christopher Newport's three tiny ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery are docked near the northern ferry landing at Glass House Point.
The state-operated Jamestown Ferry service is toll-free.
The first permanent English settlement in the New World was established at Jamestown in 1607.
There are two major heritage sites at Jamestown: Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum which includes a reconstructed native American village, colonial fort, and replica ships, operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia; Historic Jamestowne, the National Park Service site which includes Jamestown Island and the ongoing archaeological projects.
In 1699, the capital of Virginia was moved from Jamestown to a location on high ground at Middle Plantation at the suggestion of students from the College of William and Mary, which had been established there in 1693. Middle Plantation was soon renamed Williamsburg, in honor of King William III, and it was a busy place until the American Revolution.
After the capital was moved to a more secure location at Richmond in 1780, Williamsburg became a largely forgotten and sleepy little town for almost 150 years. All that changed in the early 20th century was due to the preservation efforts of Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church and the generosity of Standard Oil heir John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family, who shared a dream of restoring the old colonial capital city to its 18th century splendor, and made it come true.
Today, the result of those efforts, Colonial Williamsburg, is a large living museum of early American life. It has dozens of restored and recreated buildings and reenactors. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The Visitor's Center (right off the Colonial Parkway) features a short movie and provides a place to start and leave automobiles, which are restricted from the restored area. A wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service is provided.
The third point of the triangle is Yorktown, where General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in 1781 the last land battle of the American Revolution. There are two large visitor centers, battlefield drives, and a waterfront area.
Notwithstanding the amazingly successful efforts to provide a non-commercial atmosphere at the three Historic Triangle areas (and on the Colonial Parkway between them), there are many hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants, shops and stores, gasoline stations, and amusements close by.
Other major attractions nearby include:
- Williamsburg Pottery Factory is also nearby on U.S. Route 60 a few miles west of Williamsburg in James City County.
- The Williamsburg Winery is the Commonwealth of Virginia's largest winery, located on a 320-acre (1.3 km2) farm in historical Williamsburg, Virginia.
- Go-Karts Plus is another theme park located near Williamsburg in James City County next to the Williamsburg Pottery Factory on U.S. Route 60.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's official site
- The College of William and Mary
- APVA web site for the Jamestown Rediscovery project
- Historic Jamestowne
- Jamestown 2007 Celebration
- Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center
- Virtual Jamestown
- National Park Service: Jamestown National Historic Site
- York County Virginia Local Government
- Williamsburg Area Convention and Visitors Bureau - The Official Website
- Jamestown 1607
- Local Bus Transportation to Historic Triangle
- Creative Children's book about Willi a dog that wanders through the Historic Triangle as he learns about our the founding of this nation