Captain John Smith's Adventures on the James
— www.johnsmithtrail.org —
In front of you are the trails on Belle Isle, a historic part of the James River Park System. To your left is Brown's Island and the canal walk.
About a mile below the falls, Christopher Newport, John Smith and 21 others found a native settlement called Powhatan in what is now the vicinity of Fulton Bottom. Clusters of people the English called "Virginians" offered them food from the shore. They spent the evening and made a league of friendship with Powhatan's son, Parahunt, who, under the influence of "beere, aquavite, and sack," promised to guide them to the mines of iron and copper. On May 24, 1607, they proceeded to the falls where Newport planted a cross with the inscription "Jacobus Rex 1607" to claim the land for the king of England. To dispel any suspicions, Newport told the Natives that the two arms of the cross signified the united league between Powhatan and himself.
Capt. John Smith's Trail
John Smith knew the James River by its Algonquian name: Powhatan, the same as the region's paramount chief. Smith traveled the river many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia Indians to ensure survival at Jamestown. What he saw of Virginia's verdant woodlands and pristine waters inspired him to explore the greater Chesapeake Bay, chronicling its natural wonders.
Capt John Smith's Trail on the James is a 40-site water and auto tour for modern explorers.
Tickets for seasonal boat tours can be purchased along the canal near 14th Street. Interpreters make history come alive by telling the story of the canal and its relationship with our capital city.
A cross planted along the canal at 12th and Byrd streets pays tribute to the first Englishmen to explore the area. A short walk east along the canal walk takes you to historic Shockoe Slip.
The historic capital city of Richmond looks over the mighty James River. Breathtaking views can be had from Brown's Island river overlook and the pedestrian bridge to Belle Isle.
A shelf of granite that falls 105 feet in seven miles creates the Jame's famous rapids. The class IV and V rapids through the heart of Richmond have earned the designation of "best urban whitewater" in the nation.