Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Lectures Commemorate Chesapeake Voyages Of John Smith, April 19 At Washington College

Chestertown, MD, April 4, 2005 — Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and Sultana Projects, Inc., present two lectures in commemoration of the upcoming 400th anniversary of John Smith's voyages to the Chesapeake Bay and the launch of the Captain John Smith Four-Hundred Project. The two lectures—“A Mariner's Manual to the 1608 Voyages of John Smith,” by Kent Mountford, and “A True Relation of John Smith's Chesapeake Voyages: 1607-1609,” by Wayne E. Clark—will be held Tuesday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the College's Hynson Lounge. The event is free and open to the public.

On June 2, 1608, Captain John Smith and fourteen English colonists set out on a journey to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay. Covering more than 1,700 miles in just over three months, Smith and his men saw a Chesapeake Bay that is scarcely imaginable today, with its incredible ecosystem intact and with a multitude of American Indian cultures thriving along its shores. Smith's famous 1612 map resulting from these explorations was the first accurate depiction of the Chesapeake and served as the definitive map of the region for nearly a century. His notes describing the indigenous people and the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem are still widely studied by historians, environmental scientists, and anthropologists.

In commemoration of Smith's history-making voyages, Sultana Projects, Inc., of Chestertown, MD, has launched a new educational initiative, the Captain John Smith Four Hundred Project, to encourage students throughout the region to explore the human history and natural environment of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. In addition, the Captain John Smith Four-Hundred Project is being developed as a signature product for the Friends of the John Smith Chesapeake National Water Trail and will promote the establishment of America's first National Water Trail following the routes explored by Smith in the early 1600s.

As part of the initiative, Sultana Projects is constructing a full-scale replica of Smith's “Discovery Barge,” the 30-foot open boat—or “shallop”—used during his voyages, using research compiled by Kees de Mooy, Program Manager at the C.V. Starr Center. The vessel will be built at the Sultana Shipyard in Chestertown, using 17th century tools and construction techniques. Upon its completion, the shallop will be exhibited in museums throughout the Chesapeake region during 2006 before setting out to retrace the route of Smith's expeditions in the summer of 2007. School children from across the region will follow the Project through an educational curriculum being developed by Sultana Projects in conjunction with the Maryland State Department of Education and the Friends of the Chesapeake National Water Trail.

To help promote this educational initiative, Washington College will host two speakers, Kent Mountford and Wayne E. Clark, for a public lecture on the evening April 19. Both are contributing to the writing and production of the book, tentatively titled John Smith's Voyages of Exploration of the Algonquian Chesapeake Bay: 1607-1609, sponsored by the National Park Service's Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. The publication will be used by the Network's 140 sites to plan events and observations of the 400th anniversary of the initial Jamestown settlement and Smith's Bay explorations. The book will examine the details of Smith's first and second voyages, the interaction between the Algonquian and English cultures, and the natural environment of the Bay during that period.

Kent Mountford is an estuarine ecologist with a 40-year career focus on Mid-Atlantic temperate estuaries. He has spent more than three decades on the Chesapeake as a scientist and as an advocate developing environmental monitoring, outreach and public information programs for the Environmental Protection Agency's Bay Program Office. Mountford is considered an effective and engaging naturalist-lecturer with sensitivity for historical context. Since 1997 he has written “Past as Prologue,” a popular column on Chesapeake environmental history, for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's Bay Journal, published the book Closed Sea (a study of the Barnegat estuary), and contributed to several volumes on coastal and estuarine ecology.

Wayne E. Clark has devoted his career to the preservation of and interpretation of the cultures of the Chesapeake Bay region from the period 14,000 years ago until today, with a focus on Algonquian and Siouan archaeology and ethnohistory. He has served as Assistant State Archaeologist for Virginia (1975-1977), and since 1978 he has served as State Administrator of Archaeology, Director of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, and as the Executive Director of the Maryland Office of Museum Services, his current position. He holds an M.A. in anthropology from American University.

To kick off the launch of the Captain John Smith Four-Hundred Project, the Sultana Shipyard invites the public to an open house on Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the shipyard on the corner of Cannon and Mill Streets in Chestertown. Visitors will see demonstrations by a team of draught horses, a blacksmith working on an outdoor forge, the “burning out” of a dugout canoe and the beginning of the reconstruction of Smith's shallop.

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