It would be fair to say that the roots of American colonial history are nowhere more firmly planted than in Tidewater, Virginia. In 1607, one hundred and four men and boys of the Virginia Company alighted at a spot in the tidewater they named Jamestown. From this auspicious beginning in a hostile and unforgiving land followed such other notable places such as Williamsburg and Yorktown, places that defined America, places that underpinned generations to come. And the people who came from those places had names like Lee and Washington and Monroe, all born in the Tidewater region and all within an easy reach of Tappahannock.

We should not forget that Captain John Smith was here, on the Rappahannock River, as he explored and mapped the Chesapeake Bay in 1608. What he saw then can still be appreciated today; the serenity, the wildlife, the sense that life has started anew, and placed us astride history's broad and winding path. There are a wealth of museums and historical sites that carry a vast and fascinating array of information just waiting for your visit. They are all here still, where it all began, in the Tidewater.

Local history starts right at the doorsteps of The Essex Inn, our bed and breakfast near Williamsburg in Tappahannock. The Inn is one of thirteen historic buildings on the town's walking tour. While The Essex Inn is the youngest, 1850, Scots Arms Tavern, now a private residence, is the oldest, 1680. In between you'll find The Ritchie House, 1706; the old Debtor's Prison, 1769; the 1728 Court House and St. John's Episcopal Church built in 1848, among others. A bit farther down the road in Irvington, you'll find Christ Church, built by Robert "King" Carter in 1735 and undisturbed since, it is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in America.

Nearby and fronting the Potomac River is Stratford Hall, birthplace of generations of Lees, signers of the declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War heroes, and a Civil War General, Robert E. Lee.

Just ten minutes from Stratford is the George Washington Birthplace National Monument and the Washington family's 17th-century plantation. Another president, James Monroe, was born in Colonial Beach and, although there is little more than a marker at this site, it is a vivid reminder of the uncommon ability of the men born here and destined to lead and establish a government never before seen in a world of aristocracy.

There are many excellent museums including Tappahannock's own Essex County Museum and Historical Society, the Reedville Fisherman's Museum, the Steamboat Museum in Irvington, The Rice Hotel/Hughlett's Tavern and Carriage House, and the Kinsale Museum featuring exhibits and artifacts on life in an early commercial seaport, and many others well worth your time investigating.The Potomac, the Rappahannock, the James, and the York rivers of the Tidewater are the watery roads of history. Come and take a look, you'll be amazed at what you'll find.