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Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail Signed Into Law Today

Posted on December 19, 2006:

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Legislation creates first national “Watertrail” in the country; will trace the route of Captain John Smith’s two-year exploration of the Chesapeake Bay region almost 400 years ago

WASHINGTON - Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) applauded the signing into law today of legislation that would create the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, which would become the first national “Watertrail” in the country. The legislation, which was spearheaded by Senators Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) and John Warner (R-VA) and Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis (VA) will trace the route of Captain John Smith’s two-year exploration of the Chesapeake Bay region almost 400 years ago.

In April 1607, three ships arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay after a four-month voyage from England carrying colonists who would establish the first permanent English settlement in North America and plant the seeds of our nation and our democracy. John Smith would then travel in a small 30 foot “shallop” some 3,000 miles, reaching from present day Jamestown, Virginia, to Smith Falls on the Pennsylvania border with Maryland and from Broad Creek in Delaware to the Potomac River and Washington, DC. His journeys brought the English into contact with many Native Americans for the first time, and his observations of the region’s people and its natural wonders are still relied upon by anthropologists, historians, and ecologists to this day.

“The signing of this legislation into law marks a new beginning in highlighting the historic voyages of Captain John Smith as part of the early exploration and settling of our Nation,” said a very pleased Sarbanes.

“With the 400th anniversary of John Smith’s travels approaching next year, this trail will help bring history to life and will serve to help educate visitors about the new colony at Jamestown, John Smith’s journeys, the history of the 17th century Chesapeake region, and the vital importance of the Native Americans that inhabited the Bay area. It will also provide new opportunities for recreation and heritage tourism not only for the more than 16 million Americans living in the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed, but for visitors to this area from throughout the country and abroad. I applaud the hard work of my colleagues, Senator John Warner and Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis, as well as Patrick Noonan, The Conservation Fund and the National Geographic Society in working to make the Nation’s first watertrail a reality,” Sarbanes added.

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