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“Free Ferry Ride”

Smith's Fort Plantation
Ranked #4 of 9 things to do in Surry
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Smith's Fort Plantation is nestled on the south side of the James River, located on the site of Captain John Smith's planned "New Fort", on the land given by Chief Powhatan as a dowry for his daughter Pocahontas upon her marriage to John Rolfe. The 18th century manor house retains much of its original woodwork and provides examples of early American and English period furnishings from the late 16th through the early 18th centuries. Built sometime between 1751 and 1765, this story-and-a-half Flemish bond brick house was home to Jacob Faulcon and his family. The name "Smith's Fort Plantation" comes from the fact that John Smith began construction of a second fort on this site in 1608. Smith's Fort offered a strategic location for a retreat fort away from the original settlement, but construction was abandoned early due to starving conditions at the first fort and conflicts with the local Native American tribe. A few years later after the successful union of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, the bride's father, Wahunsenacawh, was the paramount chief of Tsenacommacah (In 1607, the English colonists were introduced to Wahunsenacawh as Powhatan and understood this latter name to come from Powhatan's hometown near the falls of the James River near present-day Richmond, Virginia.), Gave his new son-in-law a grant of this land as a dowry gift. Although the couple never lived on site, their only son, Thomas Rolfe, later returned to Virginia and opened a tobacco plantation on over 400 acres of the property.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities
Newport News
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Free Ferry Ride”
Reviewed September 4, 2013

A drive through familiar territory and a voyage to Scotland onboard a ferry. That’s how I discovered some new angles to the Historic Triangle. Everyone takes visiting family and friends to Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown, but I prefer to take them further afield. We start with the scenic journey along one of the most beautiful vistas in our area. The Colonial Parkway winds alongside the York and James rivers, exposing sights that once tempted our forefathers to drop anchor and linger. Bits of riverbank, sandy mini beaches, shallow marshes and wide expanses of water surface, wink by with every bend of the road.

Finally, on a spit of property jutting from the riverbank, we spy our waiting ferry. We follow the hand gestures of the ferry workers who press vehicles into every available inch of deck space. Setting the emergency brake and squeezing through the tightly packed cars, we stroll to the front of the metal gated front of The Williamsburg, where gulls and cormorants entreat us to throw any morsel their way. With a thudding engine and lapping movement we begin our crossing. The river breeze blows our hair askew as we watch the reproductions of the Godspeed, Susan Constant and Discovery recede along with the Jamestown Island shoreline. Ahead we can see the other ferry The Pocahontas or maybe The Surry sailing from the opposite shore. We pass midstream and our ferry whistles a greeting. We spot no kilts or highlands when we arrive in Scotland, and our familiar ferry workers gesture us from our river transport.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Bea D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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76 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Williamsburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great guide. Kids had fun”
Reviewed August 18, 2013

This is a great place to stop on your visit to surry. We had stopped a couple of times before when it was closed and the kids enjoyed running around the grounds. We were pleased to finally get to see inside. The guide was good with the kids and very knowledgable.

Visited August 2013
2 Thank Karenblades
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newport News, Virginia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Not only does the past come alive here, it never appears to have died!”
Reviewed July 26, 2013

This was a real and unexpected treat! The docent here delivered a truly excellent tour and explanation of how the inhabitants lived, and the artifacts on display as well as the almost entirely original home itself was a close-up trip back in time the likes of which cannot be delivered by even the best museum. Continuously lived in from the mid 1700s to the 1930s with all interior details intact, to include cabinetry and the bent nails used to hang cooling new-made candles on, the history of Virginia from the time of John Rolfe and Pocahontas through the period just up to the Revolution was a real thrill. Don't pass it up, much more interesting than one can imagine before actually visiting!

Visited July 2013
2 Thank Chuck C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
41 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Do drop in”
Reviewed July 24, 2013

Don't pass this home by on your way to the James River Ferry. Our tour guide was Tom, who is the site co-ordinator. He's been working at this home since he was a teenager. He really knows the history and brings the home to life. He opened every cupboard and talked about how various families lived here. It had been continuously occupied from the 1700's until 1975. Beautiful cupboards in the main floor rooms. Down the drive, past the house, is the site of the fort that John Smith wanted to build as a backup for the James River fort. Excellent tour, with a small gift shop in the basement.

Visited July 2013
Thank Happy-Suzanne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
“Must see”
Reviewed July 6, 2013

In depth tour with a tour guide who knows his stuff from the ownership of the plantation down to the details of the furniture! Well kept rooms decorated with the times' artifacts to give you an idea of how people lived. Well priced and excellent knowledge for those history buffs.

Visited July 2013
Thank Dentalren
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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