Time Traveling! An exciting trip back in time to explore Virginia's history

by April Scweitzer

Before we go anywhere, you need to get your official passport. It’s easy: just drop by the children’s desk at one of our Jefferson-Madison Regional Libraries or log on to the Internet and head to the TimeTravelers website (www.TimeTravelers.org). That’s where you can print out a passport and plan your itinerary. There are over 250 members of the Virginia Association of Museums that are planning a special welcome for Time Traveling families this year, so you will have quite a selection to choose from.

Be sure to bring your passport along on all of your adventures and get it stamped at each site. Once you receive six stamps in a season (April 1 to November 1), you’ll have earned a signed certificate making you an official Time Traveler and a TimeTravelers t-shirt (the t-shirt costs $7.00 S&H). In 2002, there is also a free Art Explorers patch you can earn by visiting two specially designated art sites as part of your six visits.

Now that you’re ready to go, hop into my minivan, er – Delorean – and be sure to buckle up. You never know what you’re going to run into when you head back in time.

First, I’ll set the clock back to 1607. We’re headed to Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement. Engines... throttle... thinking caps... spirit of adventure... all systems go!

Be prepared for a rough landing. The settlers have just arrived and the roads are really just footpaths. Bump. Thud. Screeeech!

Phew. Here we are. Not much has changed in the past 400 years. Over in the Powhatan Indian Village, Native Americans are grinding corn for dinner. They’ve asked us to help weave some plant fibers into rope. When we finish there, we head over to Fort James and watch the colonists drill and practice firing their muskets. We’d better head out before too long or else they’ll dress us in armor and put us on watch duty. Back to the time machine, TimeTravelers!

Dial the clock ahead to the 1770s. Next stop: Colonial Williamsburg. It’s the capital of our fine colony and quite a bustling city. Trouble is brewing in the colonies, but we can trust Virginia’s leaders – Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and the rest – to know what to do. If we’re lucky, we just might run into one of them here today. When we arrive, we head first to exchange our money for 18th century currency, and we borrow some appropriate period clothing for our visit.

Where to now? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry, and the smell of fresh bread from the bakery is too good to pass up. While we eat, we can chat with some of the locals and find out what they think about the situation with King George and the taxes. Rumor has it trouble is brewing up north in Boston, says a housewife whose husband is a real patriot. He’s busy at his cabinetmaking shop, but she suggests we stop by and chat with him. Apparently he actually met Thomas Jefferson on his way home from an important meeting last week (of course, Monticello is a TimeTraveler stop, too). On our way over to his shop, we stop to listen and watch as the Fife and Drum Corps marches down Duke of Glouchester Street. After our friend the cabinetmaker shares the gossip about Jefferson, we head out to pick up some souvenirs from the shops of skilled craftsmen.

Back at the time machine, we decide to jump ahead nearly a century to the last year of the Civil War. It’s 1864. The whole country – both the Union and the Confederacy – is watching and waiting to find out the results from key battles in Richmond and Petersburg. We walk the trails of Cold Harbor and duck behind trees and fortifications at the Crater, reenacting the battles ourselves. In Richmond, we stop at the Tredegar Iron Works to find out about the battle plans. They suggest we head over to the East End war hospital. When we get there, we wish we could help, but we find out just how difficult it was to save the soldiers without all of the comforts and advances of modern medicine.

Before we leave Richmond, we decide to make one last stop. We set the time machine to the turn of the last century and zip on over to Maymont House. The house is meticulously decorated and everything is spotless. Mrs. Dooley must have been expecting guests. We stroll through the luxurious rooms full of treasures and artwork from the Dooley’s travels around the world. Our favorite room – and Mrs. Dooley’s too, we suspect – is the swan room, with its carved wooden bed shaped like a swan. Outside we enjoy the gardens, animals and nature center. We finish our visit with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Maggie and Tillie are great horses, but we’re glad we don’t have to rely on them to make it back to Charlottesville – that would certainly take all day! Fortunately, we have our time machine to take us back to the future, and that means only an hour’s drive back to Charlottesville. And the whole way back we don’t stop talking about all of our adventures.

To find out more about the Virginia Time Travelers program call (804) 649-8261 or visit www.TimeTravelers.org

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