Cape Henry

The History of Cape Henry

by Bob Perrine, Old Donation Episcopal Church Historian - Dec 2015
You are invited to view “The First 100 Years In Hampton Roads - the 17th Century” @
The two Light Houses at Cape Henry - 
The Old Cape Henry Light (right) was the 1st lighthouse built by the Federal Government.
The historic lands of Cape Henry stretch eleven miles from the boundary between Norfolk and Virginia Beach to the Atlantic Ocean.  Today’s Cape Henry beaches have different names which are (from west to east) Little Creek, Chic’s, Baylake Pines & Baylake, Aeries on the Bay, Water Oaks, Ocean Park, Point Chesapeake (previously Duck Inn), Cape Henry, First Landing, and Fort Story. Longtime residents simply call all of these beaches Chesapeake Beach (many just claim most of Cheaapeake Beach to be Chic's Beach). Up the Bay is Norfolk which incorporates (from west to east) Willoughby Spit, Ocean View and East Beach.
From the east end of the Joint Expeditionary Base-Little Creek 4.4 miles to the west end of First Landing State Park, the beach is open to the public, curb parking and beach access free of charge; except the 0.4 miles from 4399 Sandy Bay Drive to 4201 Sandy Bay Drive is a private beach for only community residents of Baylake Pines and Baylake Beach. 

  Three of these road signs are at entrances to Cape Henry Beach. 

Just east of Bayfront Communities is a one mile stretch of First Landing State Park Beach. The entrance is free for bikers, walkers, and bus #35 (Vista Circle near the east side of the Lesner Bridge to the park and down the Ocean Front to Arctic Ave and 19th St); however a $5 fee ($7 on weekends) is collected at the park entrance for parking. The beach is equipped with restrooms, laundry room, and a City of Virginia Beach maintained visitor's center with very good displays of the April 26th, 1607 Jamestown Settlers' landing at Cape Henry where they stayed for four days exploring before heading up the James River.

35 Million Years Ago – the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater. A massive meteor hit in the vicinity of Cape Charles, Virginia, punching a deep crater in the ocean floor. At that time the ocean shoreline extended to Richmond. Millions of tons of water, sediment, and shattered rock were cast high into the atmosphere for hundreds of miles along the East Coast. An enormous seismic tsunami engulfed the land and overtopped the Blue Ridge Mountains, providing the reason sea shells can be found high atop the Blue Ridge. 

Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater Rim Formed a Shallow Bay along Chesapeake Beaches
“Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater” 
The Chesapeake Bay Bolide (Meteor) Impact: A New View of Coastal Plain Evolution
Chesapeake Bay Geology and Sea Level Rise
“Bay Crater May Extend into Isle of Wight County,” October 24, 2012  

33,000 - 16,000 B.C. - The First Virginians.  From Siberia the First Americans started a journey 35,000 years ago following the kelp-bed ecosystem teeming with fish and marine mammals into the Bering Straits. With the Pacific Ocean being as much as 400 feet lower, this land mass, known as Beringa, now a waterway into the Arctic Ocean, not only provided a land bridge to North America but formed a huge solid ice barrier called the Wisconsin Glaciation. There the First Americans lived for 15,000 years until 20,000 years ago. Even though ice still extended down to present day Denver, the first Americans were able to navigate the glaciers in boats by moving south down the Pacific rim and then spreading out across North America, finally arriving in Cape Henry about 18,000 years ago.  This scenario is the most accepted theory today with the following proofs. DNA of modern Native Americans has been proven by geneticists to have an Asian ancestry. Maritime people in Japan were using sea worthy boats 30,000 (or more) years ago. In 2011 Archaeologist Michael Waters of Texas A&M University announced that he and his team found 15,000 year old artifacts in Texas that resemble artifacts found in waters off Cape Charles and Cape Henry. But the oldest finds were at the Cactus Hill Archaeological Site located 60 miles west of Richmond on the Nottoway River in Sussex County.

“The First Americans,” Jan 2015, National Geographic
"Cactus Hill Archaeological Site on the Nottoway River in Sussex County"
“Spear Points Found in Texas Dial Back Arrival of Humans in America,” Mar 24, 2011
13,000 B.C. – 1605 A.D. Ten thousand years ago the Wisconsin glaciations began to melt rapidly into the Atlantic Ocean which was 130 feet lower and 50 miles east of the present Virginia shoreline. The rising ocean flooded directly over the land depression created by the impact crater and drowned the river valley of the ancient Susquehanna River, becoming the Chesapeake Bay. The rim of the impact crater can be seen today as a shallow bay along Chesapeake beaches with its base around Little Creek. During this ecological change the Chesapeake Native Americans lived a peaceful existence in separate villages around Currituck Sound and the Chesapeake Bay they called "Chesupioc", or “Great Shellfish Bay." The area was packed with wild game, bountiful fish, field grasses and edible plants in a temperate climate. All was serene for thousands of years until the rise of the Powhatan Empire, a collection of tribes which the Chesapeake people feared.
"Chesapeake Bay" -

The story that explains the Jamestown Settlers voyage across the Atlantic to their first four days at Cape Henry April 26 - 29 and on to Jamestown Island, can be found at the First Landing Beach Visitor's Center, in simple terms for class visits. 

1606 -  Bartholomew Gosnold, explorer of Cape Cod in 1602, obtained from King James an exclusive charter for a Virginia Company of London to establish a settlement in the New World. On December 20th, 1606 three ships left England with 144 men and boys. By April 6, 1607, the three ships  arrived at the Spanish colony of Puerto Rico, where they stopped for provisions before continuing their journey.
Replica of the Susan Constant, largest of the 3 ships, commanded by Captain Christopher Newport
Statue of Christopher Newport (1561 – 1617) at Christopher Newport University. He was in command on the initial voyage and in 1609 made several trips back to England for supplies.

Replica of the Godspeed, 2nd largest, commanded by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold

Stone cross marking what is believed to be the gravesite of Bartholomew Gosnold (1571 - 1607) at Jamestown Island, Virginia. He was the primary person responsible for England's colonization the New World.
Replica of the Discovery, smallest of the 3, commanded by Captain John Radcliffe
Sir John James Ratcliffe (Rattclyffe) (c.1549 - 1609) became the second president of the Jamestown.colony.
1607 – On April 26 in the early morning, Captain Christopher Newport of the Susan Constant (largest of the three ships), Captain Gosnold of the Godspeed, and Captain John Ratcliffe of the Discovery (smallest of three ships) made landfall at Cape Henry. The Virginia Company provided a box containing instructions to be opened only when the expedition had made landfall. 

Captain John Smith (1580 – 1631)
The orders designated John Smith one of the leaders of the new colony.  Since Captain Christopher Newport had charged Smith with mutiny during the voyage from England, this was indeed a surprising turn of events for all.  But this did make sense because 27 year old Smith had previously fought in foreign wars as opposed to the others who had never left London. 
Also the orders instructed the expedition to find a sheltered area up river for protection against Spanish attack. The next day four carpenters built a 12 man boat (called a shallop) from wood they brought with them from England, and on April 28 Christopher Newport set out with a crew to find the best navigable channel for their journey up river. Passing the Lynnhaven which they found too shallow, they rowed on to the James, the river Christopher Newport named for James after King James I of England (1566 – 1625). Rowing up the south side of the James, they found it to be too shallow for their three ships. They also found huge mounds of oyster reefs, some just below the surface which would wreck many ships in the following years. Moving up the James and into the mouth of the Elizabeth River they found a place where they could explore three or four miles into the land. They would be the first white men to set foot on land that 160 years later would become the Gosport Shipyard in 1767 (later named Norfolk Naval Shipyard). On their return that evening, they found the northern side of the James to have a channel deep enough for passage. They described it as "putting them in good comfort" for passage and named the nearby point of land Cape Comfort (today's Old Point Comfort at Fort Monroe National Monument, Hampton). On April 29, before leaving Cape Henry the expedition set up a cross, named the land Cape Henry after Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales, (1594 – 1612), the elder son of King James I (1566 – 1625). Sometime later in history Henry's brother and sister would be honored by being named for Cape Charles (Prince Charles I (1600 – 1649), the younger son of King James I) and for the Elizabeth River (Elizabeth Stuart (1596 – 1662), the second child and eldest daughter of King James I).

Cape Henry, named for Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales, (1594 – 1612), the elder son of King James I (1566 – 1625)
Cape Charles, named for Prince Charles I (1600 – 1649), the younger son of King James I (1566 – 1625).

The Elizabeth River, named for Elizabeth Stuart (1596 – 1662), the second child and eldest daughter of King James I (1566 – 1625).
The James River named by Christopher Newport for King James I (1566 – 1625).
Rowing across the James to the channel they found the day before, they were spotted by friendly members of the Powhatan tribe who invited them to their village Kecoughtan (today’s Hampton) for food and entertainment.

A statue in the First Landing Beach Visitors Center shows Captain Newport giving a member of the Powhatan tribe beads and other trinkets on 29 April 1607. The Powhatan had invited the Jamestown Settlers to their village Kecoughtan (today’s Hampton) for food and entertainment. 
The next day the settlers again used the shallop rowing ahead of the three ships to find the best channel as they completed their 15 day 55 mile journey from Cape Henry up the James River to Jamestown Island, to become the site of the first English settlement in the new world. 
Master George Percy (1580 – 1632) wrote about the first 4 day events in 1608.

One of the people in the initial voyage was Master George Percy. He would serve as president of the colony during the “starving time” of 1609-1610 and later as governor of the Virginia Colony. Along with prominent Jamestown leader Captain Gabriel Archer, both were known Catholics, a revelation made in 2015 that has caused historians to modify their understanding of that period when the Virginia Company of London proclaimed the Jamestown mission (besides the exploitation of gold) was to spread Protestantism (the Anglican religion) throughout the New World in competition with Spain's spread of Catholicism.  Even more surprising is the fact that Percy’s two older brothers had been taken captive in 1605 for participating in the Gun Powder Plot, a failed Catholic scheme to blow up Parliament.  Further, in the first years at Jamestown, Catholic sympathizer Edward Wingfield was returned to England, and councilman Captain George Kendall, a suspected Catholic, was executed.  

Full text of Master George Percy’s Narratives of early Virginia, 1606-1625"
A Skeleton, a Catholic Relic, and a Mystery About American Origins,” Jul 28, 2015
Bruno: Jamestown's Catholic Connection,” the Virginian Pilot, July 30, 2015 -
First Landing at Cape Henry,” 1608 by Master George Percy
George Percy,”
Joint Expeditionary Base East (Ft Story)” 
1666 - The Lynnhaven River is shown on the below sketch  before 1667 with its mouth to the Chesapeake at Little Creek with another outlet near Lake Joyce. Since there was no outlet where the Lesner Bridge stands today, Cape Henry Beach extended 11 miles from the mouth of the Atlantic to Little Creek.

(1) 1634 - Adam Thoroughgood built a crude type of wooden house. His wife, Sarah, a widow for the second time, used the old wood house for an ordinary (tavern) from 1645 to about 1647. It was located at what is now 4236 Battery Road in Baylake Pines.
(2) 1639 - Adam Thoroughgood started construction of a brick house which was finished by his wife in 1645 (today’s Adam Thoroughgood House).
(3) 1639 - Adam Thoroughgood built Lynnhaven Parish Church No. 1 at Church Point (consumed by the Lynnhaven River in 1692).
(4) 1636- Thomas Keeling built the Adam Keeling House (today a private residence).
(5) 1637 - Thomas Allen built his house (today’s John B. Dey House, a private residence).
(6) 1640 - Henry Woodhouse was a member of the first vestry (1640) and the road around his estate carries his name, but the house has long since perished.
(7) 1638 - The Francis Land Estate. Francis Land II arrived in the area about 1638.
(8) 1667 - Adam Keeling dug a small pilot channel here as a quicker way to the Chesapeake Bay (today’s Lesner Bridge site). A month later on September 6, 1667 the worst hurricane ever to hit the area widened the pilot channel to create the new flow of the river.
(9) According to Benjamin Dey White, in his 1924 book “Gleanings in the History of Princess Anne County,” Lake Joyce formed an inlet from the Lynnhaven River to the Chesapeake Bay. Here legend has it that Black Beard, the Pirate, hid the bulk of his booty.
(10) A map by Gen. Benedict Arnold’s engineers made in 1781 denotes the early flow of the Lynnhaven River to be two miles further west at Little Creek.
(11) 1692 / 1736 - Lynnhaven Parish / Old Donation Church. The second church was built in 1692 and third in 1736 on Cattail Creek (Cattayle Branch on old maps).
(12) 1764 - Pembroke Manor was built by Captain John Saunders I (1726 – 1765). 

1667 - Re-routing of the Lynnhaven River. Adam Keeling (1638 - 1683) organized his neighbors to dig a small pilot channel from the Lynnhaven River through a huge sandbar about a half-mile long to the Chesapeake Bay so boats would not have to make the long two mile journey west to the mouth of the river at Little Creek. Ironically, a month later on September 6, 1667, following on the heels of a nor’easter and twelve days of rain thereafter, the dreadful hurricane of 1667 struck, a storm considered one of the most severe hurricanes to ever strike Virginia. Most of the homes in the area were destroyed.  Area crops, including corn and tobacco, were beat into the ground. Many livestock drowned in area rivers due to the twelve foot storm surge. The foundation of the fort at Point Comfort was swept into the river, and a graveyard of the First Lynnhaven Parish Church tumbled into the Lynnhaven River. This system was blamed for enlarging the small pilot channel dug the month before to the size of an inlet and re-routing the Lynnhaven River permanently. 
The Dreadful Hurricane of 1667,”
"History: Virginia Hurricanes,"

1670 – 1690; 17th Century Hardships. Neighboring the Chesapeake Bay, the Lynnhaven Parish English colonists suffered from many hazards including wolves, nor'easters, droughts, hurricanes, floods, and attacks by French, Spanish and Dutch ships. Then there were the pirates. The pirate Capt. Kidd had his rendezvous on Pleasure House Creek, then part of the Lynnhaven River, and the English pirate Edward Teach (1680 –1718), better known as Blackbeard, buried his treasure in the huge sand banks near Cape Henry, dunes that were bulldozed during WWII so German u-boats would not have a beacon into the Chesapeake Bay. However, some folks claim he hid his treasures on an island in Lake Joyce which used to have an inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. In 1684 the English Government furnished a ketch for the protection of the Virginia coast. Lookouts were established along the shore for all suspicious vessels, and all ships coming to Virginia were provided with cannon and men trained to shoot them. 
Edward Teach (1680 –1718), better known as Blackbeard

1600’s – 2000’s - The Pleasure House.  Pleasure House Beach, a strip of beach from Little Creek Amphibious Base to Baylake Beach, was first named for a popular ordinary or tavern - “The Pleasure House” built in the 17th century. It was one of the first places in America where spirits could be had, a popular place for Blackbeard and his men. While there Blackbeard had several men stand lookout for ships to pirate. When spotted they’d dash back to the Pleasure House along a narrow little road, today’s Lookout Road, a block from and parallel to the Chesapeake Bay. Besides Lookout Road there is also Black Beard Road that hugs the east side of Lake Joyce.  As proprietor in the early nineteenth century Mr. Nimmo continued the Pleasure House's reputation for gambling and drinking. During the War of 1812 the tavern was occupied on a regular basis by Virginia militia who used the second floor as an observation post to observe British movements in the Bay. The British attacked the house at least two times during the war, setting it on fire and capturing several militiamen.
This 18th century map (above) marks the location of the Pleasure House. The current map (below) shows the rearrangement of lakes. The Pleasure House is on the east side of today’s Lake Bradford and is situated just north of today’s Chub Lake. Lake Joyce was formed from the remnants of the Lynnhaven River when it flowed west to Little Creek prior to 1667.
From “Haunted Virgina Beach,” by Alpheus J. Chewning, page 16
1976 - the abandoned “Pleasure House” at the end of Pleasure House Road on the south end of a small lake.
Photo Credit: The New Tidewater Flashback Group in Facebook

1700’s - Lynnhaven’s Golden Age. The eighteenth century was the Golden Age in Lynnhaven Parish with prestigious families becoming wealthy on tobacco and other crops.  Families such as the Walkes, Keelings, Moseleys, Lands, and Woodhouses would take week-long excursions to Cape Henry Beach having sent servants ahead with tents, furniture and refreshments.  The most famous of these trips was made during the courtship between sixteen year old Elizabeth Walke of the Walke Manor House and thirty-two year old George F. McIntosh of Thalia’s Summerville. Their wedding in 1800, dubbed the “Wedding of the Century,” officiated by the famous Rev Anthony Walke, was a most grand affair at the small Lynnhaven Parish Church with days of celebration at the Walke Manner House and Summerville.
Walke Manor House (1st Ferry Plantation House) built in 1782, destroyed by fire in 1828

1775 - 1783: The American Revolutionary War Years
After the burning of Norfolk by British Royal Navy ships on January 1, 1776 the American Revolutionary War was mostly fought to the south and north of Hampton Roads. By 1780 the British smelled victory after scoring major defeats in both the north and south. After General Lord Cornwallis captured Savannah and Charleston in the summer of 1780, he moved on to Yorktown to provide a protected harbor for the British fleet in the lower Chesapeake Bay. To complete the severing of the norther and southern components of the American Continental Army, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold was dispatched in Jan 1781 with 1,600 men with instructions to destroy army supplies and storage depots. He raided Richmond and cities along the James River, and finally establishing fortifications in Portsmouth. The British, now confident victory was at hand, could rebuild their American dominance outward to the north and south from Hampton Roads. Their assumptions were premature. 
         In the paragraph below the portrait of Benedict Arnold at the American Revolution Museum
he was credited for his decisive leadership in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, 
but because he was not promoted he switched sides to fight for the British in Virginia.  
The Battle of Cape Henry. On March 16, 1781 local residents saw British battle ships anchored at the mouth of the Lynnhaven River. They had arrived that evening after being mauled by a French fleet under the command of Admiral Destouches during the Battle of Cape Henry. Destouches had soundly beaten the English fleet under the Command of  Vice Admiral Arbuthnot and could have completely destroy the British fleet, but instead Destouches sailed to Newport RI, a tactical error, leaving the Chesapeake under British control and allowing Benedict Arnold’s troops to remain garrisoned in Portsmouth. They would continue raiding up and down the James River cutting off supplies to American patriots fighting in the Carolina's.  
The Battle of the Capes. On September 1, 1781, Admiral deGrasse, commander of the French fleet, arrived near the mouth of the Lynnhaven River in a five day wait for the British. He detached a few of his ships to blockade the York and James Rivers farther up the bay. Many of  his ships at anchor were missing officers, men, and boats when the British fleet was sighted on the morning of September 5, 1781. Their arrival caught de Grasse completely off guard. Local residents were at the time helping the French gather supplies. DeGrasse had to leave as many as 200 of his crew behind when he ordered his fleet to cut anchor at 11:30 a.m. to begin sailing out of the bay with the noon tide. The French took more than four hours to move single file through the Bay's narrow channel. Admiral Graves commander of the English fleet waited 15 miles from the mouth of the bay, a tragic tactical mistake. About 4:00 pm the French ships cleared the Bay. The British were the first to open fire, but the French got the first advantage by aiming at British masts and rigging, crippling the two led British ships. The 2-1/2 hour epic battle ensued just out of visual sight off Cape Henry, perhaps the most significant battle in American history. By holding the British fleet from reaching Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown with vital supplies and assuring General Washington of a victory over Cornwallis at Yorktown, this sea battle became the critical one in securing America's independence from England.  
Some or all of the leaders of Princes Anne County, who had helped deGrasse with supplies, gathered at the point of Cape Henry to see smoke and hear the cannon fire in the distance. Included in the gathering most likely were:
*Parents of three patriots who fought in the War of 1812; twelve year old John Henderson (1769 – 1825), three year old Anthony Walke (1778-1820) and one year old John Brownley (1780-1853).
*Reverend Anthony Walke III (1755 - 1814)
*William Walke (1762 - 1795)
*Captain Thomas Walke IV (1760-1797)
*Colonel Edward Hack Moseley I (1717 - 1783),
*Colonel Edward H. Moseley  Jr. (1743 - 1814)

Sep 5, 1781, the Battle of the Capes (French on the left and British on the right)

"I wish it was in my power to express to Congress how much I feel myself indebted to the Count deGrasse and his fleet." G. Washington Oct 19, 1781.
"I consider myself infinately happyto have been of some service to the United States reserve me a palce in your memory." deGrasse Nov 3, 1781
A memorial stone plaque at Historic Jamestown Colonial National Historic Parks Cape Henry
                             French Fleet Commander François-Joseph Paul, Marquis de Grasse

A statue of French Fleet Commander François-Joseph Paul, Marquis de Grasse
is at Fort Story (today’s Joint Expeditionary Base East).
The below interpretive sign, Battle of the Capes, September 5, 1781 is located along a Pleasure House Point between the Pleasure House boat dock and Dinwiddie Rd. It was installed in June 2015 as part of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail as a joint project of the National Park Service and the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department. 
Events Leading to the Siege of Yorktown, 1781

The Virginia State Historical Highway Marker, Meeting of Three Commanders, dedicated March 6, 2019, at Lynnhaven Colony Park on Shore Drive, across from Beach Haven Drive, focuses specifically on the September 18, 1781 meeting of Washington, Rochambeau and de Grasse, overlapping content with the above interpretive sign Battle of the Capes, September 5, 1781.
Note: The location of this October 18, 1781 meeting was at the same site de Grasse waited five days (September 1-5, 1781) for the British fleet. Since the channel of the Chesapeake Bay and Lynnhaven were not as deep and wide as is today, it took de Grasse four hours moving single file to clear the Bay and meet the British Fleet.
National Archives – Founders Online - Washington Papers - Sep 1781
The Revolutionary War would mark the beginning of the end of the “Golden Age,” a time of prosperity and economic growth in Princess Anne County.  Lynnhaven Parish Church served as the “Mother Church” of a rich and aristocratic Princess Anne County exclusively from English ancestry making up almost half the population, with a quarter being slaves and a quarter Native Americans. Although a few people were beginning to steal away to Presbyterian and Baptist churches, the vast majority of Princess Anne County belonged to one church, the Lynnhaven Parish Anglican Church. Before the war most of the Virginian gentry supported the Crown, but as Virginia tobacco planters fell deeper and deeper into debt to British merchants, and as taxes imposed by the King slowly mounted, attitudes began to change. With the costs imposed on the colonists to pay for their defense, particularly the French and Indian War (1754–63), the cash-poor but potentially land-rich gentry began to support the rebel cause for independence. 
Leading up to and during the Revolutionary War there was heated debate within Lynnhaven Parish Church between those siding with the British as loyalists and those staunch American patriots. Colonel Edward Hack Moseley (1717 - 1783) was loyal to King George III and remained loyal throughout the war.  His son Lt Col Edward Hack Moseley Jr (1743 – 1814) stood on the opposite side, but this did not affect their relationship.

One member of Lynnhaven Parish Church went further than just talk. Captain Saunders II (1754 - 1834) chose to be a loyalist and joined the Queen's Loyal Virginia Regiment in opposition to his father, Captain Jonathan Saunders I (1726 – 1765) a staunch American patriot. Although he was not in the battle at Yorktown, the congregation assumed he was. His regiment was at Yorktown for the battle against Washington, but he was ordered to Charleston to command the garrison there. 

Captain John Saunders II (1754 - 1834) 
Photo from the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Virginia

Colonel Adam Thoroughgood (1755 – 1782), a 7th generation descendant of Adam Thoroughgood, was at the Battle of Yorktown as an officer in George Washington’s army. He was wounded and died shortly after the battle. While Adam was off fighting, the British overran Adam’s plantation estate and commandeered it for a British headquarters. The British told Adam’s wife, that they would pardon her husband if he stopped fighting and came home. In the tradition of Thoroughgood wives, she replied with rebellious indignation, "I would rather see him dead!"

The Virginian gentry's break in loyalty was tested after the Revolutionary War during the 1783 Treaty of Paris when the subject of paying pre-war debts to English merchants was decided in favor of the English merchants. A key point in the treaty “recognized the lawful contracted debts to be paid to creditors on either side.” Further, the Anglican Church was disestablished in all states where it had previously been a privileged religion, and the Virginian gentry lost their high status in the community without an Anglican Church to collect a tithing tax or to purchase a commission in the army or navy.  Anglicans were left without organization and the Virginia legislature and local governments began seizing Anglican property, even though it belonged to the newly established Episcopal Church. Out of 107 Virginia parishes before the war only 42 survived. Lynnhaven Parish Church was one of the surviving churches.
"The Revolutionary War in Virginia" -
"Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum" -
Battle of the Capes” -
Note: The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown which opened in March 2017 is not for you if you want to learn about Revolutionary War activities in Hampton Roads. For example, under the portrait of Benedict Arnold, the paragraph ends by just saying that after he switched sides he went on to fight for the British in Virginia. That’s all!  And as for Captain Saunders II (1754 - 1834) there is just a portrait of him.

The War of 1812. 

War of 1812 Marker (front and back) 
                        at Historic Jamestown Colonial National Historic Parks Cape Henry
Three American sailors were captured in 1806 and forced into British Royal Navy duty. Escaping from the British they enlisted on the U.S. frigate Chesapeake, but when the Chesapeake cleared Cape Henry June 22, 1807, the British commandeered the ship and recaptured the Americans. This news of yet another violation of American sovereignty along with British attempts to restrict U.S. trade and block American westward expansion led the young nation to declare war against England on June 18, 1812 (war of 1812). Less than a month later on July 8, 1812, just off Cape Henry, on the topsail schooner Dash, members of the Princess Ann County Militia, including Sgt. Brownley, Pvt. Henderson and Pvt. Walke captured the British sloop, HMS Whiting, the first ship captured in the war. All three men are buried in the Old Donation Cemetery. They were honored as patriots by the War of 1812 Society, DAR and SAR on May 17th, 2014.

Not being part of the American Navy; nonetheless, private armed vessels 
such as the Dash were authorized to seize enemy vessels. 

Soon after several initial humiliating defeats, the British sent a strong naval flotilla that would seize hundreds of American vessels and raid towns up and down the James River attacking Norfolk and burning Hampton to the ground. Despite the British strength, the Princess Ann County Militia continued skirmishes with British landing parties along Chesapeake beaches throughout the war which lasted until the Treaty of Gent was ratified by the U.S. Senate on February 18, 1815. 
1789 – 1964: The Two Lighthouses
The are located at Cape Henry within the Joint Expeditionary Base East (Ft Story). Congress approved legislation to establish and support lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers on Aug. 7, 1789, and being the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. government, the original Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1792 and has long been important for the large amount of ocean-going shipping traffic headed for the harbors within the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Willis A. Hodges, an African American and first lighthouse keeper had to carry drums of whale oil up the slippery steps. Hodges became an influential black leader in Princess Anne County being the county's first black elected representative.  During the Civil War, to keep it operational for Union ships, black troops from Fort Monroe were sent to guard it from Confederate attack.  The newer, and still standing lighthouse, was completed November 1881, 350 feet away from the first one. Supplies for its construction, were transported on a seven-mile railroad spur built from the Lynnhaven inlet. This spur line would be replaced 21 years later by the Chesapeake Transit Company’s electrified trolley rail line. On January 29, 1964 the old lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark open to the public. In 1989, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the act and the commissioning of the first federal lighthouse at Cape Henry, Congress designated Aug. 7 as National Lighthouse Day.
Cape Henry Lighthouse Get Its Day in the Spotlight,  Virginian Pilot, Aug 6, 2015
National Lighthouse Day Weekend
The Pilot Boats
Harbor pilots first started working in Hampton Roads early in the 18th century. They helped to end the American Revolution in 1781 by guiding the French fleet to the Virginia Capes in time to defeat the British (the Battle of the Capes). During the Civil War, the U.S. frigate Merrimac was escorted by four armed pilot boats to its epic meeting with the Union Navy’s USS Monitor.

In 1866 the Virginia Pilot Association was formed and a seventy-two foot wooden schooner was anchored off Cape Henry to serve as the pilot’s base station for maritime traffic entering the Chesapeake Bay, the last in 1983 being the steel steam cutter, pilot boat Virginia III.  Pilots would be picked up on the shoreline of Cape Henry and rowed out to the schooner where they would wait for a ship entering the Chesapeake. Then from the schooner sailors would row a pilot to the incoming ship. The pilots job was to guide the ship's captain through the Chesapeake to port.

Virginia III
From “Guardians of the Capes, a History of Pilots and Piloting in Virginia Waters from 1611 to Present

The above late 1950s picture shows a yawl boat being lowered from 
Virginia III to pick up pilots off the beach at Fort Story.
Picture from “Images of America, Fort Story and Cape Henry,” by Fielding Lewis Tyler, 2005
Capt J.H. Vail is taken ashore at Cape Henry piggyback, 
a time-honored custom, by apprentice Ted Wool.
From “Guardians of the Capes, a History of Pilots 
and Piloting in Virginia Waters from 1611 to Present

 This 1909 painting shows a harbor pilot in a perilous moment
                   as he grabs onto the ships ladder from the pilot’s yawl boat in rough seas.
                 From Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004

The George M. Farwell is shown wrecked as it sits grounded October 1906.  Just barely visible in the background to the left is the Italian schooner Antonia wrecked and grounded March 1906. Both ships tried to navigate past Cape Henry up the Chesapeake without calling for a a harbor pilot.
From Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004

After 1983 two high-speed, 51-foot launches replaced the stationary Virginia III.  They were based at the Virginia Pilot Association’s new headquarters just inside the Lynnhaven River. At the same time, a control tower was placed in operation behind the sand dunes close to the Cape Henry Lighthouse, taking over the radar and communications duties formerly conducted on board the Virginia III. Today every ship entering and leaving the Port of Hampton Roads, whether destined for a dock in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News or Baltimore, must have a pilot on board to function as the captain until the ship is either safely docked or safely out into open sea. Almost all harbor pilots make six-figure salaries that can go up to a half-million dollars a year.

Above picture shows pilot boats docked at Lynnhaven Inlet. 

High powered, very quick and durable, a Pilot Boat is built to withstand heavy seas and bumping against 100,000 ton tanker ships. They are painted a highly visible red.

1902-1948: Train Transportation
In 1902 the Chesapeake Transit Company (later merged with the Norfolk and Southern Train Co.) opened an electrified trolley rail line. The line ran east across Lake Smith on a trestle bridge and another across the Lynnhaven River inlet on a rolling lift drawbridge, and on to a railway station at Cape Henry which opened in 1904 and still stands today on the grounds of Fort Story Naval Base. In 1905 the  Cape Henry train line connected to the Norfolk and Southern line built north from the ocean front. This created a forty-two-mile electric train loop with train service operating every half hour.  In 1926 the open spaces on the surface of the bridge were planted over so that Norfolk and Southern Bus Company could carry passengers to Cape Henry.  The electrified trolleys were replaced by gasoline-powered trains in 1935, with services ending at the end of the 1940's with the trestle bridge being torn down. The train station at Fort Story was restored and used at one time as an educational facility by the Navy. Today it is unused, and with talk of restoration, hopefully this historic landmark will be preserved. A state historical marker installed in Sep 2017 near the rail station will certainly help. It describes the past history of the rail lines that ran through the cape. 

The dedication of the Cape Henry Railroads Historical Marker was held on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.
The N&S electrified trolley #4 on the Cape Henry & VA Beach line in 1904.
                             From Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004

Old Brick Train Station at Fort Story with the 
two lighthouses in the background (Picture from Dave Burnette)
Railroads to Cape Henry in Virginia Beach Get Their Place in History,” by Stacy Parker, The Virginian-Pilot, Aug 4, 2017
Ocean Park History Project, Virginia Beach, Virginia Early 1700’s – 1906
Brief History of the First Norfolk Southern Railroad”
"Lighting the Path to Local History"!trains/field/all!all/mode/all!all/conn/or!and/order/nosort
"Transportation in Virginia Beach" 

Transition of Cape Henry Resorts to Fort Story.
Above map from “Twixt Ocean and Pines : the Seaside Resort at  Virginia Beach 1880-1930,” page 131 by  Jonathan Mark Souther Follow, University of Richmond UR Scholarship Repository Master's Theses Student Research (Note: Fort Story did not include the land around the light houses and O’keefe’s Restaurant and Casino east to the Atlantic until 1941)   

 William J. O'Keefe began his career as the proprietor of an ice cream parlor in the basement of the Princess Anne Hotel. Developing great affection for the cape, he opened the Cape Henry O'Keefe Casino and Restaurant on July 4, 1903. Soon his establishment became a success as trains brought customers east from Norfolk and north from the ocean front.
Passengers riding the line from the beach front saw few houses en route along the Atlantic, only sand dunes, swamps, and pine woods. They must have been startled when the thirty-two-room "Mansion in the Wilderness" came into view. Built in 1906 by Dr. John Miller Masury, the palatial granite residence was situated on about 130 acres of land between the ocean and Crystal Lake. The Masury mansion was complete with ballroom, pipe organ, elevator, and a half-mile lighted and covered cedar boardwalk that connected to an oceanfront cottage. 
The Mansion in the Wilderness, 515 Wilder Road,  Virginia Beach, Virginia
Dr. John Miller-Masury House, also known as Lakeside (1906–1935), Crystal Club (1935–1939), and Greystone Manor (1942-present), was built in 1906–1908. From 1936 to 1939, it housed the Crystal Club, a gambling casino and nightclub. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Over the next decade only two other houses were built on the beach front, but at the cape resort there was much to see around O'Keefe's Casino and Restaurant. O'Keefe built bathhouses, a soda fountain and ice cream parlor, refreshment stands, and a dancing pavilion made popular by Borjes' Orchestra. Beach goers stayed in cottages and a hotel. 
from Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004
1909 - Famous Original Oyster Roast at Cape Henry’s O’keefe’s Restaurant and Casino

Oct 8, 1913 - Oyster Roast at O'Keef's Casino and Restaurant
from Sargeant Memorial Collection, Norfolk Slover Library
Postcard of O'Keef's Casino and Restaurant, from the Robert J. Gilson Collection, Virginia Beach Public Library 
O'Keefe's Casino would became the home of the famous Lynnhaven oysters. With its long picnic tables that were restocked constantly with oysters, O'Keefe's became a favorite, especially on New Year's Eve, when a special dinner-breakfast of oysters and Smithfield ham was served. Beside the casino other pastimes at Cape Henry included climbing and sliding down the huge sand mountains, enjoying a picnic atop high points of land jutting out into the bay, and picking wild huckleberries and blackberries. Cape Henry enjoyed such great success that the Chesapeake Transit Company built larger facilities and soon offered twenty-five-cent "moonlight excursions" to the cape every night. In 1908 the Cape Henry Beach Company was formed to promote the Cape Resort. Despite the considerable popularity of Cape Henry for daily excursions, it failed to become a complete resort, and the Cape Henry Beach Company quietly dissolved. The Cape Henry Syndicate assumed responsibility for the land and revived lot sales for a time, but in a few years it also failed to make Cape Henry a sizeable resort.
 In 1909 President Taft made the Lynnhaven Oysters famous after eating at O’Keefe’s Restaurant and Casino.  He later had them delivered to the White House, and by singing their praises Taft gave Lynnhaven Oysters national attention and paved the way for wholesalers to ship them all over the east coast.  By 1912 Slade, C. M. Barnett (early 20th century owner of the Ferry Farm Plantation Home) was shipping them to New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Grand Central Station.
Taft had originally come to the area in 1905 as Secretary of War to investigate fortifying the bay. When Taft became president four years later, the bay remained unprotected even though Fort Wool at the mouth of the James River had in 1902 been funded for upgrade, but it did not protect the mouth of the Chesapeake.  A debate ensued over whether to build an island in the middle of the bay or build a fortification at Cape Henry. The Taft board recommended constructing an island fortress at a cost of about $2.6 million. To bolster support for the island which had been delayed, President Taft came to back to the area in 1909 to deliver an address in which he declared his support for the construction of the island fortification midway between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. The island plan eventually proved too costly, and in 1913 the federal government instead purchased land at Cape Henry. The Virginia General Assembly officially turned over nearly 345 acres of pristine bay and ocean front property to the federal government for a military installation naming it for Gen. John Patton Story, a noted coast artilleryman of his day. But the land purchase did not include the two lighthouses or O’Keefe’s located just west of the 1881 newer lighthouse.
                      Maj. Gen. John Patten Story, former chief of artillery, died one year before
the Fort Story ground breaking. His distinguished career lasted 40 years.
Picture from “Images of America, Fort Story and Cape Henry,” by Fielding Lewis Tyler, 2005

 After World War I Fort Story entered a period of post-war inactivity which lasted until the beginning of World War II. Not only did O’Keefe’s Restaurant continue in operation, but the production and distribution of illegal distilled spirits (moonshine) sprang up when prohibition was passed in 1920. Positioned at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the wilds of the Cape Henry "Desert" had long been regarded as a "paradise for moonshiners." During this time, Cape Henry played a considerable role in eluding authorities and getting moonshine to locals and the Middle Atlantic region. Even a decade after prohibition ended in 1933, moonshine was still being produced in places along Shore Drive and shipped across the Chesapeake Bay and up the Eastern Shore to northern cities.
In 1941 the Headquarters of the Harbor Defense Command was moved from Fort Monroe to Fort Story requiring more land. Stretching to the ocean, it consumed the land where the two lighthouses and O’Keefe’s Restaurant were located. About this time O’Keefe’s closed.  In 1944, Fort Story began to transition from a heavily fortified coast artillery garrison to a convalescent hospital for returning veterans. By the time of its closing March 15, 1946, the hospital had accommodated more than 13,472 patients.  

1919 - The "Order of Cape Henry 1607" was founded, and beginning in April 1920 they held yearly services to commemorate Cape Henry as the birthplace of a Christian English-speaking nation. Celebrated as the "Pilgrimage to the Cross, the event is the oldest, continuous historical observance in Hampton Roads.  Documented in books and journals, gubernatorial papers and in the Congressional Record of the United States, the Order has been named in the proclamations of numerous Virginia governors and mayors, and has been the subject of correspondence from several United States presidents. The Order serves as the umbrella under which all events, participants, sponsors and hosts are organized at Fort Story (today’s Joint Expeditionary Base East) at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  
July 3, 1930 Colonial National Monument was authorized and established. On June 5, 1936, it was re-designated as Historic Jamestown Colonial National Historic Parks operated by the National Park Service including several sites relating to the Jamestown settlers and historical events in the area that include the site of the first landing at Cape Henry, the first English settlement at Jamestown, the Yorktown battlefield, and a scenic 23-mile Colonial Parkway running through the historic district of Colonial Williamsburg linking Jamestown Island and Yorktown completed in April, 1957. The Cape Henry Memorial Colonial National Historic Park on the grounds of the Joint Expeditionary Base East (Ft Story) include two lighthouses, the granite "Cape Henry Cross," a statute of Admiral deGrasse (provided by the French government for America’s bicentennial and dedicated in October 1976), a granite memorial to the Battle of the Capes dedicated in 1981, a three-panel wayside describing Cape Henry's significance to America, the old Fort Story train station built in 1902, the First Landing Chapel, and a walkway leading to the top of the sand dunes where one can overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.

The three-panel wayside describing Cape Henry's significance to America

The walkway leading to the top of the sand dunes 
where one can overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. 

1931 - One of the celebrations in 1931 brought more than 10,000 people including President and Mrs. Hoover arriving by train. 
   1931 Pilgrimage to the Cross Ceremony -

1935 - On April 26. 1935 the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists donated a granite cross, the "Cape Henry Cross," replacing a wooden cross in the approximate location as the one erected April 29, 1607 by the Jamestown bound colonists. They unveil a plaque at the foot of the cross during the well-attended ceremony which read, “Here at Cape Henry first landed in America, upon 26 April 1607, those English colonists who, upon 13 May 1607, established at Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America. Erected by National Society Daughters of the American Colonists April 26, 1935.”
Cape Henry Cross installed 1935 by the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists 
1935 - the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists 
unveil a plaque at the foot of the Cape Henry Cross

2014 Old Donation Episcopal Church began participating in the ceremonies by holding a service at the First Landing Chapel after the blessing of the "Cape Henry Cross." Pictured here at the 2019 Cape Henry Cross ceremony are The Rev. Bob Randall, Rector of Old Donation Episcopal Church; Church young Historians, and Historic Traditions Commission members.
1956 - Reproductions of the Godspeed, Susan Constant, and Discovery were featured in the 349th anniversary celebration.
The three Ships, left to right - Discovery, Susan Constant, and Godspeed -

Of significant interest are three museums, one operated by the federal government at Jamestown Island, the Nathalie P. & Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium Archaeology Museum 
the nearby Virginia State operated Jamestown Settlement Recreation Museum of the 1607 Colony and Native Life the Virginia State operated Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown  Unfortunately not one of these museums have much about the First Landing, and one even has it wrong.  The Colonial National Historical Park, Cape Henry Memorial Museum states the three ships, “arrived off the coast of Cape Henry on April 6, 1607.” Actually they were in the Spanish colony of Puerto Rico where they stopped for provisions on April 6, 1607.
Colonial National Historical Park, Cape Henry Memorial

From a desolated area in the early twentieth century, Cape Henry becomes popular.

1920 - Positioned at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the wilds of the Cape Henry "Desert" had long been regarded as a "paradise for moonshiners." During prohibition from 1920 to 1933 Cape Henry played a considerable role in eluding authorities and getting moonshine to the Middle Atlantic region.

1922 – 1975 Y.W.C.A. Camp Owasia. John B. Dey, for whom Broad Bay Manor / John B. Dey House, Dey Cove Drive and John B. Dey Elementary School were named, had extensive holdings in the area. In 1918 he allowed 25 girls from the Y.W.C.A. camp at Broad Bay Farm to use his property on Cape Henry Beach for camping, crabbing, fishing, and boating. Later in 1922, the Girl’s Work Committee purchased a cottage at Chesapeake Beach and accepted two adjacent lots as gifts from the Norfolk Lot Corp where Water Oaks and Aeries now exist.  Named Camp Owasia (a Native American name meaning “camp of happiness”) it operated for nearly 20 years until World War II when the U.S. Army took over the land and used it for training special forces.  After the war, the YWCA sold the property and purchased nearby Camp Lynnhaven, originally Camp Robert Hunt, which had been owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. Unable to pay for the high operating costs the camp closed in 1975, and in 1976 retirement community Westminster Canterbury bought the land. 

Y.W.C.A. Women Return from a Swim in the Chesapeake Bay at Camp Owaissa
“About the YWCA South Hampton Roads: Highlights from 1911 -1961”
Fun at Camp Owaissa – 1952
1920’s – 1978 Ocean Park Beach
 1940 Map of Ocean Park just west of the Lynnhaven Inlet
                          From Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004

The post card (above) was taken from “Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards,” by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004. It says, “People used to gather at Lynnhaven Inlet in the 20’s to go bathing as well as so see and be seen.  Sundays were busy days and probably some came right from church.  This picture shows a popular spot at Ocean Park. The train brought most folks. The Lesner Bridge was not built at this time, but the train did cross Lynnhaven Inlet and went on to Cape Henry and Virginia Beach. The slide and the beach house were located just south of the train tracks on the west side of the inlet” (where Lynnhaven Boat ramp and Beach Facility stands today).
The Ocean Park Casino and Amusement Park featured a merry-go-round, sky ride, dance hall and bowling. A fire destroyed it in 1929. After rebuilding, a notorious August 1933 hurricane completely destroyed the amusement park and washed away both sides of the Lesner Bridge roadway. Again after rebuilding, it operated until 1940 when it went into court-appointed receivership.

1927 – 1964 Seaview Beach was once called the largest and best "Negro Beach Resort in America." In 1927, the Hygeia Club built a 300 foot two-story frame building with a ballroom dance hall for whites only.  In 1936, the building was sold and renamed Club 500. Big name bands were brought in and its popularity soared. The building was later sold to the Shriners of Virginia Beach and renamed the Templar Club. In 1945 the property, to include a 50-acre beach front tract, was acquired by 21 local black business and professional men. It opened on May 30, 1945 as Seaview Beach, the largest and best African American resort on the East Coast.  A ballroom rocked with the sounds of Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.  Outside the starlight plaza was lined with colorful umbrellas and lighting for dancing under the stars.  In 1947 amusements were added which included a Ferris wheel, merry go-round, auto scooter and swing carousel. Next door was Parker’s Beach Motel and Restaurant for overnight guests.  When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation, Seaview Beach closed in 1964, but blacks could still not use Oceanfront’s Seaside Park as the remnants of Jim Crow laws still hung on. Seagate Colony Condominium was built in 1975 where Seaview Beach once stood. At first the high-rise attracted few buyers as beach front properties had been single family bungalows up until that time.

Seaview Beach 1947
Aerial View of Seaview Beach Amusement Park, 1947 - Virginia Beach, Virginia (this aerial view also shows land west of Seaview Beach and the intersection at Shore Drive and London Bridge Road (today's Great Neck Road))
"Recovering Virginia’s African American Landscape,"
Seaview Beach on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach and Sunset Lake in Chesapeake, Virginia
"Our heritage : Black history : Princess Anne County, Virginia Beach,Virginia  
Historically African American Beaches; Vanished Relics of an Uncomfortable Past,” 20 May, 2013
We'll see you at Seaview - July 1947,” The Virginian-Pilot, Jul 9, 2017

1947 - 1971. Parker's Beach Motel and Restaurant. When Sea View Beach and Amusement Park closed, blacks could still not attend ocean front beaches as Jim Crow laws still stayed mainly in place. Between Sea View Beach and Seashore State Park (renamed First Landing State Park in 1997) Parker Beach became a popular beach as public places for blacks became scarce. From 1947 to 1971 Thomas Parker and his mother maintained a place for blacks to enjoy the Chesapeake Bay.

1928 - Lesner Bridge crosses the Lynnhaven Inlet at the mouth the Chesapeake Bay. The first bridge for automobiles, a draw-bridge was constructed in 1928 next to the train trestle, replaced in 1957 by what are now the eastbound lanes of a dual Lesner span.  Westbound lanes were constructed as a parallel span in 1966. The Lesner Bridge was named after John A. Lesner, a Democratic Virginia State Senator who represented Norfolk City and then served on the State Highway Commission beginning in 1908. 
The new Lesner Bridge opened to traffic on May 30, 1958. The older draw span is visible to the left of the new bridge.  From Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004

1933 – Ocean Breeze Beach and Amusement Park was opened on 75 acres along the Chesapeake Bay alongside Lake Joyce for African Americans during this time of southern segregation laws. W.W. Consolvo, John C. Davis and Joseph Nelson (all white), opened Ocean Breeze May 30,1933. The 75-acre tract had bath houses and a dance pavilion between a dozen concessions selling ice cream, pop, hot dogs and hamburgers.  Rustic furniture was located in shady spots affording a perfect setting for picnics. The Norfolk Southern Bus Company ran a frequent schedule from Norfolk to Breeze Beach for the very low fare of 35 cents round trip. 

1933 – Work on First Landing State Park (originally Seashore State Park until 1995) was begun in 1933 by mostly African American workers of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.  The park opened on June 15, 1936, part of the first of six Virginia public parks to open. First-time tourists are surprised to find Spanish moss covering Bald Cypress trees, the farthest north this ecosystem exits. Local legend tells about Blackbeard hiding in the Narrows (the waterway called Long Creek leading into Broad Bay). During the War of 1812, its Cypress swamps were a source of fresh water for merchant mariners, pirates and military ships.  During the Civil War the interior waterways served as landing sites for Union and Confederate patrols and blockade-runners. Now, as Virginia's most-visited state park, the Trail Center, opened in 2012, has a display conveying conditions during the First Landing in 1607. 

Northern Most Ecosystem of Spanish Moss Covered Bald Cypress
First Landing State Park's Trail Center

First Landing State Park's trail center at the south entrance off of Shore Drive is the main hub for accessing the park trails (the secondary access route for the trails is the 64th street entrance to the park). Inside the trail center displays showcase local wildlife and area history plus a meeting room for up to 45 people. For information call 757-412-2320. This facility is maintained by the state. The nearby visitor's center at the entrance to the public beach is maintained by the City of Virginia Beach.

Near the trail center on April 26, 1997 the City of Virginia Beach properly returned the last 64 souls of Great Neck Point’s Chesepioc Chesapeake Indian tribe to their rightful burial ground. A brief but solemn ceremony, officiated by then Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, marked the occasion with a plaque to watch over their spirits and guarantee remembrance of the area’s last-known victims of genocide.

“City Commission Invites Public to Explore Preserving History of ‘America’s Cape’,” the American Standard, July 2015
“Bald Cypress”  
First Landing State Park's Trails”

1933 – 1964 Ferry Service Across the Chesapeake Bay. The Virginia Ferry Corporation, a privately owned public service company, began purchasing vessels that could be used to carry both passengers and vehicles between the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) Peninsula and Virginia Beach, a 15 mile wide expanse of the Chesapeake Bay five miles from the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. During its peak, the Virginia Ferry Corporation operated 90 one-way trips each day from Cape Charles to Little Creek with seven vessels, i.e.,
*S.S. Accomac built in 1928, 
*S.S. Princess Anne built in 1932, 
*S.S. Delmarva built in 1933,
*S.S. Pocahontas built in 1941,
*Virginia Beach built in 1944,
*Old Point Comfort built in 1945, and
*Northampton purchased in 1948. 

In particular Princess Anne passengers danced in the spacious ballroom or visited the snack-bar on Fridays and Saturdays while traveling to Cape Charles as if on a cruise line. The S.S. Princess Anne, white with a cobalt-blue streamlined funnel, frosted windows and golden initials, would become a model for styling future ocean liners and cruise ships. Upon arriving at Cape Charles, passengers caroused on Mason Avenue lined with shops, eateries, wares, novelty stores, and the elegant Palace Theatre with productions that included Annie and the Wizard of Oz.  In 1951 the Cape Charles terminus was moved seven miles south to a new pier at Kiptopeke which shortened the 85 minute crossing by 20 minutes. This began a downturn for Cape Charles. Finally the 1964 opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel brought an end to the use of ferries and added more recession to Cape Charles City which became an off-the-beaten-path town several miles from the main north-south highway. But the city experienced a rebirth in the 21st century. The town’s cultural elements and beautiful scenery, combined with a laid back, small town atmosphere, has encouraged an artist community to blossom with an influx of day and overnight visitors with two Inns and three B&B’s. 
The above picture of the S.S. Pocahontas is typical of the other six ferries. At one time, the Pocahontas, in honor of her name, carried a flask containing earth taken from the grave of the Indian Princess Pocahontas in Saint George's Churchyard in Gravesend, England. 
Passengers enjoyed the dazzling success of that new ferry "Princess Anne" and danced or visited the snack-bar.
Chesapeake Bay Ferries -
The History of Cape Charles
Historic Palace Theater

1949 – 1978. The 300 seat Serlich’s Restaurant in Ocean Park, is shown here in 1949 on the north side of Shore Drive at the west end of the Lesner Bridge (where Ocean Park Casino and Amusement Park once stood). In 1963 it was remodeled and named it the 7 Seas. The property was sold in 1978 for the “3556 On the Bay” high-rise condominium.
                              From Virginia Beach in Vintage Postcards by Alpheus J. Chewning, 2004
1982 - Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay was opened and today is a 627-unit not-for-profit retirement community sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia. Designed for active people age 62 and over with independent living, it also provides assisted living and nursing care at a stable cost. To honor the church's original mission, in 1992 Westminster-Canterbury established the Westminster-Canterbury Foundation Fellowship Assistance Fund to a certain number of qualified individuals such as people who have dedicated their lives to Hampton Roads and cannot otherwise afford the initial move-in cost and monthly fees, both at the top price range for this type of luxurious facility.
Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay 
  Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay is viewed from the air looking north  

The Westminster Calendar Girls. Inspired by the 2003 film Calendar Girls, six Westminster Canterbury women, ages 73 to 83, decided to make a 2009 calendar by baring just enough skin to raise an eyebrow or two. The calendar became a big seller raising more than $13,000 for the Westminster-Canterbury Fellowship Assistance Fund.
Westminster-Canterbury Calendar Girls Remain Young at Heart,”  The Virginian-Pilot © Aug 19, 2008

Westminster Canterbury Notables

* Nancy Hoy, widow of president of Norfolk Hoy Construction Harold "Hap" Hoy, donated one million dollars to help  people financially unable to live in the retirement community. The assisted-living wing is named after her.
$1 Million Donated to Westminster-Canterbury Retirement Facility,” the Virginian Pilot April 1, 2006

* Isabel Marie Andrews (1916 - 2003) felt the least she could do was organize 15 or so of her friends to help greet Navy ships from the seawall in front of Westminster Canterbury as they returned to the Norfolk Naval Station.  She knew when they would be coming from secret connections. Even when her eyesight faded, she continued welcoming returning Navy ships with her American flag waving. 
Isabel Andrews welcomed countless ships returning from deployment for eight years.

92-Year-Old Virginia Beach Woman Gives Homecoming Troops the Welcome They Deserve

* Dr. Robert J. Stewart (1912 - 2014), a retired podiatrist, led a productive, successful and happy life in spite of having diabetes for 66 years. In his retirement at Westminster-Canterbury he won five Gold Medals and set two world records in the Senior Olympics. He promoted health and wholeness to residents, encouraging them to become more active and eat right.

Robert J. Stewart (1912 - 2014)
Taking Control of Your Diabetes: A Practical Approach to Exercising For Life with Diabetes

1940’s - Fish Nets. Along Cape Henry are about six fish net fences that lead fish into a holding area. Once a week the owners of the nets gather the fish not harvested by the pelicans. No longer permitted, these nets have been grandfathered, and once the fishermen die, that will be the end of the nets. 

                               Mariners Mark (right) and Ocean Beach Resort Hotel (left) in the background
                                         The holding area where pelicans leisurely fill their bills

Pelican Rescues @ Cape Henry Beach

The above picture (2012) shows the rescue of a pelican trapped in the above fish nets. After exhaustive struggle to get free, the pelican offered little resistance. It was placed on the kayak and paddled to shore for the wildlife rescue folks.

The above picture shows a Virginia Beach SPCA wildlife rescue operation of a young pelican at Cape Henry Beach. After being netted, the pelican was wrapped in the blanket shown here and carried to a van where it was caged for the ride to the rescue center. (Sep 2016). 

1952 - 2016 - The Duck-In, a classic Virginia Beach seafood restaurant, was founded in 1952 when Bill Miller bought the property. From its early beginnings it was a bait shack with a to-go window where fishermen stopped to get tackle and breakfast sandwiches. Over the years the little Duck-In grew and when Shore Drive was widened, Miller moved the Duck-In 150 feet. Dredging of the inlet deposited more sand onto the Duck-In beach, and by 1961, Miller owned more than 7 acres. His son, Bill, renovated the building in the ‘80s to become a fully functioning restaurant. The gazebo was a cornerstone in Cape Henry Beach, the center piece of weekly beach parties, where literally hundreds of revelers began their weekend festivities.  Bands played for the party-goers and diners.
In 2004 talk started about Duck-In closing. The property had become too valuable for Bill to keep flipping hamburgers. There was also talk about moving the party to the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel, but that never materialized when local resident around the hotel protested.  In 2005 Bill closed the place, had it demolished, and moved to Florida. The 7.6 acre lot sold in 2006 for an estimated $15 million. Citing community concerns, developer, Tuck Bowie, downsized initial plans. In reality Bowie feared similar delays from local protests over a nearby 122 acre development (now Pleasure House Point Natural Area) that was going to turn wetlands into 1,063 homes, all nicely packed in.
Named Point Chesapeake Point on the Bay, five 4 story 3 bedroom beach front condominiums containing 40 units with a clubhouse for all is under construction to be completed sometime in 2017. 
One remnant of the Duck-In would live on. The gazebo, built in the late 1980s, would be renovated. Bowie was sensitive to the fact that it should remain a silent sentinel to what once was. Adding to the sensitivity of the area Bowie's plans called for a public pathway under the Lesner Bridge to Vista Circle with places to sit and watch boats go by; a place for art displays at the scenic overlook on the southwest side of the bridge; and an art feature at the intersection of Shore Drive and Cherry Tree Place.
Timing was bad for the planned 2008 start of Chesapeake Point. The real estate market tanked, and plans were put on hold for eight years until late 2015 when a $1.5 million sea wall was constructed, and in March 2016 construction started. 

The last Duck Inn beach party was Aug 12, 2005.
Shortly after, the building was destroyed (above) making way for Chesapeake Point.

Point Chesapeake -  rendering of the 5 four story (40 units) 3 bedroom beach front condominiums 
(priced between $0.8 and $1 million), and Beach Pavilion (on the right almost under the bridge) 
with existing gazebo on Cape Henry Beach (in front) to be restored 

The 40 Point Chesapeake condos will be shielded from busy Lesner Bridge by the 171 unit apartment Overture Point Chesapeake complex facing the bridge only 18 feet. Thoes facing Shore Drive were built specifically to limit noise featuring thicker walls, double insulation and sound-dampening windowsThe apartments consist of one and two bedroom units for senior citizens (61+). They feature a pool, a rooftop lounge, a yoga studio, theater room, gym, resident garden beds, hair and nail salon, bocce ball courts, a coffee bar and bistro, salon, business center, and a kitchen used for cooking demonstrations. The complex will also offer daily activities, which could include small club meetings, wine tastings or movie events. Rents start at $2,210 and go up to $3,655. Units will be ready July 2017.

Update June 2019: Point Chesapeake condos have had only two sales and after two years only two of the planned five planned five buildings have been built. Overture Point Chesapeake apartments are fairing not much better with about 10% occupancy after opening a year ago.
"Living Near the Lesner: New Virginia Beach Apartments Are Next To Reconstructed Bridge,"
the Virginian-Pilot, April 23, 2017
Condos, Apartments Going Up Where Duck-In Parties Were Held in Virginia Beach,” the Virginian-Pilot
Mar 25, 2016
Chesapeake Point on the Bay, Latest News,” 10 Nov 2016
“Condos, Apartments Going Up Where Duck-In Parties Were Held in Virginia Beach,” Mar 25, 2016
 “Project for Duck-In Site is Back on the Drawing Board,” The Virginian-Pilot, May 11, 2014
“Virginia Beach Connections - Duck-Inn History 

1956 – The 1200 foot Lynnhaven Fishing Pier on Cape Henry Beach was built in 1956 and has been family-owned and operated since. The Cashmans, along with several business partners, built the pier in 1956 at a cost of $80,000. Charlie Cashman’s daughter Bobbie Lou Duff continued running the establishment along with her husband Hoyt Duff until Oct 2017 when it was sold to the the next door retirement community Westminster-Canterbury.  In 1962, the Ash Wednesday storm ripped off the end of the pier. It was repaired and lengthened to 1480 feet. At first only snacks were offered. In 1978 this was expanded to a full restaurant, the Lynnhaven Fish House and the outdoor awning covered Pier Café. Other storms would batter the structure through the years. In November 2009 a four day nor’easter played havoc on the pier. Rebuilding and repairing cost $500,000 which included the addition of a “T” section at the pier end. This “T” section was damaged by Hurricane Matthew Oct 10, 2016 and  remains un-repaired and blocked off. 
2017 update:  Westminster-Canterbury purchased the Lynnhaven Fish House and the Fishing Pier.  The restaurant closed Dec 31 2017 and all but 100 feet of the pier was demolished.

The 1480 foot long 20 foot wide pier was built on creosote piles driven 11 feet into the bay floor.
The Pier Café is seen here with its bright blue canvas awning roof
Lynnhaven Fishing Pier being sold to retirement community,” 
by Stacy Parker, The Virginian-Pilot, Oct 3, 2017.

1963. This 1963 map of Virginia Beach shows features that have changed since. Ocean Shore Ave. ran 9 miles from the Lesner Bridge through Fort Story and south down to the Ocean Front. Today it runs only just a little over a mile through Chesapeake Bay Shores to First Land State Park but is chopped into a dozen pieces within neighborhoods. North Great Neck Road was London Bridge Road and swung behind the John B. Dey school and down what is now Thomas Bishop Lane. At Bay Lake Pines, Lake Joyce was much smaller. Apparently Rt 755 ran through First Land State Park (now a bike trail), and Fort Story had no gate and traffic could go through. Non-existent were the Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge Tunnel (opened for traffic April 1964) and Northampton Blvd which replaced much of old Shell Rd as the main route to the bridge/tunnel. The intersection of First Court Road and Pleasure House Road was called Robins Corner. 
                              “1963 Map of Northern Portion of Virginia Beach” 
1963 photo - First house built corner of Ebb Tide & Shore Dr Ave

1960 – The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Forty-two months after construction began, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) opened to traffic April 15, 1964 replacing ferry services and becoming one of the seven modern engineering marvels of the world. The CBBT is 23 miles long, crossing at an angle to the 15 mile width of the Chesapeake Bay, 4 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Lucius Kellam Jr. (1911–1995), a civic leader, worked for the CBBT development and operation.  As an Eastern Shore native, businessman, and civic leader, Kellam brought the multi-million-dollar bridge-tunnel project from a dream to reality.  After completion Kellam became chairman of the CBBT holding the post for 39 years.  In 1987 the bridge-tunnel was officially named the Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge but few people know that and call it only by its long name, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, unlike  the nearby Lesner Bridge named that in 1928 when a draw-bridge was constructed over the Lynnhaven River.
The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 destroyed some of the completed bridge work along with a major piece of custom-built pile driver barge called "The Big D.”  On a few occasions portions of the bridge have been damaged by vessels. The bridge claimed 7 workers during construction and since 9 Feb 2016 there have been 79 traffic fatalities, with only 2 resulting from 15 vehicles, mostly tractor-trailers, being blown off the bridge in high wind, fatalities held to a minimum by wind restrictions to various vehicles and closed altogether when the winds exceed 65 mph. When a parallel bridge was opened in 1999 to separate northbound and southbound travelers, head-on collisions fatality rates fell. Opposing traffic still passes each other closely in the two tunnels.
In July 2016, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission awarded a $756 million contract to Dragados USA for a parallel tunnel tube to the Thimble Shoals tunnel. Construction is expected to begin in October 2017 and take five years. Expansion of the second underwater section in the Chesapeake Channel is tentatively slated for 2040 or later.
Dragados Awarded $756 Million Contract for New Tube of Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel,
Thursday's (Feb 9, 2017) Fatal Truck Crash Brings Death Toll on Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to 79,” Feb 10, 2017 -
"Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel and Lucius Kellam Jr."
1970’s - Cape Henry Trail. The old railroad right-of-way became a trail (Cape Henry Trail) for walkers and sometime in the 70’s was paved for bikers. From its west starting access at Jade Street it runs 1.5 miles to First Landing State Park. At Hatton Street (mile 1.3) Lesley Harlow built an eclectic garden in the early 60’s complete with a Norfolk Mermaid, ten foot skeleton and suspended Dark Knight. (2019) - the current owner has taken all of these ornaments down.

Crossing Kendall Street the trail enters First Landing State Park and follows the rail line for another 0.4 miles of asphalt pavement before it diverges off the old rail line following old Rte 343 / 755 for 5.5 miles to 64th Street (the southern park entrance).  From there Cape Henry Trail uses old Rte 343 for a 1.5 mile mountain bike experience with lots of sand and patchy surfaces. It's a rewarding little trek, with small hills, water views, and bird-watching. It ends at the swimming and recreation area at the Narrows, a link of water between Broad Bay and Linkhorn Bay. The VA Pilot dubbed it a Secluded Beach Secret.

                                                  Trail Map of First Landing State Park 
               “First Landing State Park Is A Secluded Beach Secret,”  July 17,2009

1977 – The Sea Wall. The 1.8 miles of Cape Henry Beach (from the Lesner Bridge east to First Landing State Park) are split approximately in the middle by an 0.8 mile sea wall built in 1977.  On both sides of the sea wall, communities are protected from hurricanes by sand dunes which require setbacks from the beach and, in most cases, obstruct bay view from the first floor.  Communities behind the sea wall have a grand view of the bay and access directly to the beach. These communities and businesses include (from west to east) Lesner Point East Condominiums, Lynnhaven Beach Condominiums, Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, Casa Del Playa Condominiums, Lynnhaven Fish House/Pier Cafe and Pier, Ocean Shore Condominiums, Ships Watch Town Homes, Chesapeake Bay Shores Town Homes, and Sea Gate Colony High Rise Condominiums. Cape Henry Beach has a total of 22 public access paths. The seven that step down from the sea wall are paved and afford lots of free parking along Ocean Shore Avenue and three cul-de-sacs in Chesapeake Bay Shores. Those 15 access points on either side of the sea wall have very limited parking with one concrete (partial) and three plank paths, one of which is a handicapped access (at the end of Sandalwood Road). The others are sand. The three high rise condominiums are Harbour Gate and Cape Henry Towers near the Lesner Bridge and Sea Gate Colony just west of Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center.  Ships Watch and Chesapeake Bay Shores are the only town homes. The sea wall is composed of 3 x 15 foot tongue and groove precast reinforced concrete sections with a 1 x 1.5 foot concrete lip. Sections were anchored 8 feet into the sand using water jetting, a method of sinking wall sections with high pressure water.
One of 24 Chesapeake Bay Shores town homes situated behind the sea wall
                    with a grand view of the bay and direct access to the beach

1978 – Low Rent Regatta. In mid-July at a Hobie 32 Fleet meeting (catamaran sailors), the Chesapeake Beach crew was chastised because they could not afford to participate in an upcoming regatta. An offhand comment noting their “low-rent district” ignited what would become a 20-year inexpensive fewer-rule Low Rent Regatta with proceeds of nearly $250,000 given back to the community. It was 26-miles, north and west through the first Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opening, north and east through the second opening and back to shore. The Labor Day event saw hundreds of Hobie Cat entries, preceded and followed by wind-surfing, volleyball tournaments, and parties - all hosted by the Fort Story Officers Club on their beachfront for the last 15 years of the event.  In 1984 Virginia’s Governor, Chuck Robb, showed up to award trophies. In its heyday as many as 189 boats raced. With the waning popularity of catamarans, insurance, and city regulations, after 20 years the 1998 Labor Day weekend was the final race coupled with a final party celebration. The Low Rent Regatta was one of the largest and longest-running catamaran races ever held and left lasting friendships among communities up and down the Chesapeake beaches. On Sept. 9, 2017 a Low Rent Regatta 20 year reunion was held at Bouy 44. Boaters and onlookers of the bygone Labor Day sailing event came together to celebrate and remember.
The "Low Rent Regatta(Picture from "Gone but not Forgotten,VA Beach,"
by Jordan Shepherd and James Jordan IV, 2008)

“ ‘The more beer we drank, the better the idea became’: Beach sailors remember Low Rent Regatta,” 

1986 – the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center (VBRH&CC) at 2800 Shore Drive opened in 1986, the only hotel on Cape Henry Beach. VBRH&CC provides sunset views from 295 suites.  Featured are the Tradewinds Restaurant, in & outdoor pools, a fitness center and coupons to play tennis at nearby Virginia Beach Tennis and Country Club.  A summer concession in front of the hotel rents various non-motorized water craft.  A Segway outlet featuring rides on Cape Henry Trail has since been discontinued. The hotel provides an option for young groups that need a place away from the hustle and bustle of the beach front with calmer waters.  
From left to right on the ground floor – outdoor pool, indoor pool, patio bar, Tradewinds Restaurant with deck under the striped awning and the Sunset Ballroom under the sloped roof.
The hotel’s biggest moneymaker is hosting wedding ceremonies on the beach along with  receptions, rehearsal dinners, luncheons and room rentals. 
Typical setup for a wedding out in front of the hotel
Hotel ratings have been a mixed bag from “an unforgettable stay” to “a miserable experience.”
Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center Reviews,”

Not long after its opening the hotel spent $1 million renovating Tradewinds Restaurant and building a ballroom. Ballroom plans showed a flat roof so that next door Mariner's Mark Condominiums would not have an obstructed view of the beach. But a sloped roof was built instead which obstructed the view for several of Mariner's Mark units. This began an unfriendly association with local neighbors. Next up were plans to build a 980-square-foot gazebo on Cape Henry Beach. Included in the zoning petition was license for bands which were playing at Duck Inn (soon to closed).  Residents came out in large numbers to a hearing on the hotel’s proposals in January 2005. With strong opposition the hotel put off plans for the band and gazebo. 
Many Neighbors of the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel Oppose the Beach Expansion,” January 24, 2005 –
For years a summer concession of the VBRH&CC Hotel rented out jet skis. They were noisy and dangerous to swimmers, just one more hotel operation creating sour relations with neighbors. The jet ski controversy was finally brought to a head in 2007 by local resident Ray McDaniels who cited various code violations. He was instrumental in having them banned from the beach. 
Do Beach Hotel's Jet Ski Rentals Skim over Parts of City Code?” Virginian Pilot September 11, 2007 -

                Ray McDaniels led the fight to get jet skis banned from Cape Henry Beach

2018 Update: The hotel was closed and sold to the Marriot Corp. Throughout 2019 major renovation have taken place with reopening in scheduled for 2010.

1990’s – Cape Henry Beach has always had its colorful characters being a beach free of  police enforcement, a place where dogs can run free and kids don’t have to worry about the huge ocean waves.

Louis Perna II (Lu) lived in a cardboard box on Cape Henry Trail near North Great Neck for approximately 5 years in the 90’s taking walks with his dog on Cape Henry Beach. 
                                           “Goad: 'He Chose The Life He Wanted To Live'”

Beach Bill took walks in the 90’s for many hours every day along the shores of Cape Henry Beach – always with his wide brim hat and a can of beer in his hand.  
Beach Bill, Salon Marketing -   
                                         Beach Bill’s Daily Stroll on Cape Henry Beach

2002 to Oct 2018 - Lesner Bridge Replacement.
In the early stages of planning, the city asked residents to vote on two possible alignments. Since most residents live on the north side of Shore Drive, the overwhelming choice was a right-of-way calling for the bridge to be built in two steps, first a new east bound bridge south of the existing bridge and then demolition of the entire bridge so the west bound lanes could be built in the footprint of the old bridge. This construction allowed for four lanes to remain open during construction since the single new 40 foot wide bridge could temporarily handle four traffic lanes. Dimitri Hionis (owner of Bubba's Restaurant, the Lesner Inn and a shellfish company) worried about losing parking space and the Maryland and Virginia Pilot Association worried about traffic noise for the pilot boat employees’ sleeping quarters which would end up closer to the new bridge. Further, the argument was made that the south alignment would cause the high voltage power lines to the south of the bridge to be replaced. Estimates ranged over $20 million, but there was no consideration of placing the lines inside the box girder space of the new bridge, a relatively inexpensive and eye pleasing alternative. Was this a ruse to justify the northern option that is close to existing housing? With these two arguments the City Council agreed in early May 2009 on the northern option, i.e., the west bound lane bridge would be the first built, bringing the northern alignment within 18 feet of the new Overture at Chesapeake Point apartments. Dorinda Ennis, a 3556 Condominium condo owner on the west side of the river said, "The northern alignment takes a premier building, ours, and squishes it near the bridge. It was very disappointing." 
With over 21,000 bridges in Virginia there are over 1,200 structurally deficient and over 3,000 functionally obsolete. This danger lingers because the federal government hands out highway funds to states with no restrictions on how they spend the money. The Lesner Bridge is a shining example. The 1,575 ft bridge over the Lynnhaven inlet will still provide 4 traffic lanes (2 each way) but will be 15 feet higher and each bridge 20 feet wider to accommodate extra wide shoulders and multi-use paths; luxuries preventing money for other bridges in need.  At $115 million the cost of the Lesner Bridge replacement is more than 6 times the cost of the Old Lesner Bridge which was built for $1.1 million (1957) and $1.2 million (1966) or $18.2 million in 2017 dollars. 

In 2002 the bridge deck was designated structurally deficient. However, the bridge piers were judged to last another 50 years. Using pre-stressed (steel stressed before the concrete dries) beams or steel I-beams could have saved time and money, but instead the bridge deck is being built with precast box-girders, 14 between two piers, held in place by an overhead gantry until steel rods are strung through holes in the box-girds and pulled into tension. If these box girders are damaged, repair is very expensive.
The 2012 Charette (planning meeting) was supposed to present various plans to citizens, from Spartan to luxurious. But instead, the designers had practically finished the design of a luxurious replacement bridge. The meeting was simply to ask citizens what railing and lamp posts they liked best. Attending the meeting were local citizens who were enthusiastic about their future “Cadillac” bridge.
As things turned out the city got burned by the engineering consultant, Clark Nexsen International Architecture and Engineering Consultants “that botched its estimate” and its $89 million cost estimate ended up at $115 million.  Since the state and feds refused to kick in additional money, the city had to pony up the additional $26 million.
Construction started Jul 2014 and the two spans were originally scheduled to be fully operational June 2017, but that date keeps slipping and is now more than a year and a half past June 2017. Each day the project is late, the city will level $3,200 of “liquidated damages” to the builder, McLean Contracting, for not finishing on time which now adds up to about $1.7 million dollars.

What’s in a name? The Lesner Bridge (named for State Senator John A. Lesner’s State Highway Commission service) was named the Lynnhaven Bridge when it was a draw bridge before 1958. At the beginning of construction the city felt the time had come for a new name, but citizens were generally opposed and voted to retain the current name. In 1987 the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) was named the Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge (name didn’t stick).  Sea Shore State Park was renamed the First Landing State Park in 1999 (name has stuck but not for old timers in the area). And just recently Fort Story (named for Gen. John Patton Story, a noted coast artilleryman of his day) has been renamed Joint Expeditionary Base East (fat chance that name will stick). 
Rendering of the Lesner Bridge Structure to be completed in 2018

Three of the 14 box girders for the first bridge span
One of the new twin bridges, 53 feet in width, will temporarily accommodate four vehicle lanes (two each way), while the old twin bridges are demolished, making way for the east-bound new bridge. Each new span features two 12-foot traffic lanes, a 6-foot inner shoulder and a 10-foot outer shoulder, wide enough for 3 lanes, but wait! Shore Drive is a four lane highway, but for how long?

Lesner Bridge construction (start to finish) on YouTube (2-1/2 min)
Bridges in Virginia, 2016
Beach Can't Close Gap over Site for New Lesner Bridge
Lesner Bridge Low Bidder Wants Out after $20M Mistake - January 8, 2014 
Beach Is Finally Ready to Build New Lesner Bridge
Lesner Bridge is months behind, but new span expected to open in late October,” Oct 6, 2016 
2005 - Present 
Crabbing began about ten years ago with mostly Fillipino crabbers catching blue crabs at Cape Henry Beach from May through September using chicken necks as bait and scooping the crabs up in nets. 

2006 - 2014 - Cape Henry Kiteborading. In the late 1990’s in Oregon Cory Roeseler developed an inflatable tube kite harnessed to a rider on a small surfboard - the kite propelling the rider across the water.  If the kite dropped down to the water it would easily bounce back into the air. Corey’s invention, called kiteboarding or kitesurfing,  took off in the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River, Oregon, where wind conditions were favorable most of the time. Not until 2006 were one or two kiteboarders seen on windy days off Cape Henry Beach, but by 2014 dozens of Cape Henry kiteboarders were jumping waves.
The History of Kiteboarding & Launch of a New Sport

2006 - First time kiteboarder trying out in calmer waves. 
The Lynnhaven Fishing Pier in the background.
2014 - dozens of Cape Henry kiteboarders jumping turbulent waves.
                                        Looking east toward First Landing State Park Beach

October 1, 2009, the Army Transportation Corps (of Fort Eustis) and the Navy’s Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base joined together to become the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS), the first joint base in the Hampton Roads, VA area. Their primary mission is to transport US Marines to trouble spots around the world on Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ships, each housing two air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC) (hover crafts) which can deploy to the beach 180 troops or an M-1 Abrams tank. Beside personnel and equipment delivery, LCAC have proven to be very useful in supporting non-hostile amphibious operations and were vital in delivering life-saving equipment, food, water, and medical supplies in humanitarian relief efforts after disastrous floods in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan and the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Four of the eight Landing Platform Dock’s (LPD), now operational (one still under construction) are based at Norfolk Naval Base. They conduct training operations off Ft Story where locals are more than aware when they train due to the high volume of noise LCAC’s generate.

USS San Antonio (LPD-17)

 An LCAC aboard the USS San Antonio (LPD-17)

 Marines exit the LCAC during an exercise

An LCAC skimming along at 40 knots using an average of 1000 gallons per hour, a real bargain considering that an F-16 fighter jet uses 1,680 gallons of fuel per hour.

2009 – Cape Henry Beach Sand. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first became involved with Lynnhaven Inlet in the early 1960's. Every four years 160,000 cubic yards of dredged sand was trucked to the beach front until 2001 when Ocean Park Beach (just west of the Lesner Bridge) and Cape Henry Beach (just east of the Lesner Bridge) starting receiving the dredged sand on an alternate four year cycle through large hoses laid along the beach. During the November 2009 sand replenishment project along Cape Henry, a four day nor’easter played havoc on the beach, damaging the Lynnhaven Pier, steps to the beach, and owners’ decks; and leaving a trench in front of the 0.8 mile sea wall from Seagate Colony high-rise to Westminster Canterbury retirement complex. The city then trucked an additional 50,000 cubic yards of sand all the way down to First Landing State Park to complete the project . 
Damage steps down to Cape Henry Beach
Rebuilding Lynnhaven Pier Cost $500,000
"Virginia Marine Resources Commission Approves Truck-Hauling of Sand to Finish Cape Henry Beach Replenishment” February 5, 2010 -

Sand replenishment may have been stopped had Lynnhaven Dunes Condominium Association prevailed in court. They claimed their deeds showed that the beach belongs to them, but they were willing to give up their riparian (property) rights for $1.5 million. The court allowed the association to pursue their case while clearing the legal way for the Corps of Engineers to continue with sand pumping on Cape Henry Beach. On October 15th, 2013, a jury of the Supreme Court of Virginia decided the condominium association's water-access rights were worth nothing and the city should not have to reimburse the owners, a battle that cost the association a quarter of a million dollars.
Va. Beach in Court over Cape Henry Beach Access
Jurors Side with City in Virginia Beach Sand Lawsuit
May 19, 2011 - Paddleboard Mileage Record. Mike Simpson and Will Rich of Rhode Island left Virginia Beach on their stand-up paddeboards on their 1,600 mile journey from Key West, Florida to Portland, Maine to raise awareness and money for the SUP Clean-Up and Wounded Warrior Project charities. About a dozen folks were on hand to see them off.  Coming into Virginia Beach on Monday, May 16th, they encountered giant swells as they attempted to cross the mouth of the Chesapeake.  They reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and found a boater willing to take them back to shore. The boat dropped them off at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel & Conference Center where they stayed for three nights. On June 30, 2011, 42 days after leaving Virginia Beach, they arrived at their final destination, Portland, Maine. Their 1,600 mile journey will surely be the folklore of paddleborders in years to come.
Arriving in Portland Maine June 30, 2011, Just after Paddling Through Dense Fog.
“Chesapeake Bay Challenges Philanthropic Paddlers”
Another couple on their stand-up paddleboards, attempting a bit shorter route, arrived in Virginia Beach Nov 17th, 2015 from New York on their way to Florida. Called “Atlantic Supergirls” – LouAnne Harris, 28, and Julieta Gismondi, 30 started their trip Oct 12th,  paddling to raise money for Mission Blue, an ocean-conservation organization, and First Descents, a program that provides outdoor adventures for young adults affected by cancer.

June 7, 2012 OpSail 2012Tall ships rendezvous at Lynnhaven Anchorage, making ready to sail into Norfolk the next morning for the Parade of Sail OpSail 2012. The ships’ masts were lit up, making a spectacular night time view off Cape Henry Beach.
Dozens of Tall Ships, with lights strung from bow to stern at the Lynnhaven Anchorage, 
just off Cape Henry Beach, make a grand nighttime display.

Tall ships from around the globe sail from Virginia Beach to downtown Norfolk to kick off a weekend of festivals. 

2012 - Indigo Dunes Becomes Pleasure House Point Natural Area. Local citizens have long spearheaded efforts to raise funds for purchase of undeveloped waterfront property on the Lynnhaven River known as Indigo Dunes. The property is located on the north side of Pleasure House Creek and Crab Creek.  It is 122 acres of beautiful undeveloped coastal property encompassing oyster beds, wetlands and a maritime forest. In 2007 L.M. Sandler & Sons bought the land for $30 million. They proceeded to get approvals to build 1,063 homes on the land, offering to trade these wetlands for land they owned in Florida, but the housing market bottomed out in 2009 and Sandler defaulted on the loan. This opened the way for a purchase in July 2012 of the property for a bargain basement $13 million with help from the Trust for Public Land, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the community. 
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) help in the purchase of Pleasure House Point allowed it to place one building near the north side property line out of the way of the natural area. The building is a state of the art CBF regional headquarters and education center, promoting preservation and sustainability to teachers and students. There are rooms for local conservation groups and community organizations. Opening on January 5, 2015 the Brock Environmental Center is named in honor of Joan and Macon Brock of Virginia Beach, who generously donated $3.6 million toward the $21 million project. The 10,000-square foot building was the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified building in Virginia, a green building rating system. Its natural brown wood siding sitting on pylons allows natural sand to flow under it to blend with the natural surroundings.
On May 13, 2016, the center was honored for becoming one of the first 11 projects to meet all of the criteria required under the “Living Building Challenge” by the International Living Future Institute,
considered by many to be the highest honor in the world for green building projects. The Brock Center is the first building in the South to earn it. Among the center’s distinctions is the first-ever system in a U.S. commercial building for making all drinking water from rainwater. It generates all of its own electricity from solar panels and two wind turbines.
Virginia Beach's Brock Center One of the First Buildings in the World to Earn Elite Green Honor,
The Virginian-Pilot, May 12, 2016
Indigo Dunes Becomes Pleasure House Point Natural Area
Treasure at Pleasure House Point – The Virginian Pilot, July 12, 2013
Brock Environmental Center
Pleasure House Point

 Indigo Dunes Becomes Pleasure House Point Natural Area

Pleasure House Point, Brock Environmental Center

April 13, 2014 - Lynnhaven Beach Condominiums caught fire right next to Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay.  All 22 residents escaped except Benjamin and Patricia Joyce (April 23, 1929 - April 13, 2012) who were born on the same day and would die on the same day. They had been married 62 years. Their children’s advice to move to assisted living facilities went unheeded as they loved where they were, looking out at Cape Henry Beach each morning.
Two Seniors Dead in Condo Fire in Virginia Beach,” April 14,2012

From the Old Donation Episcopal Church 2009 Picture Book

Outdoor Gas Barbecue Pit Fire Destroys Two Buildings at Lynnhaven Condos April 13, 2012

April 16, 2014 - Grounded Cargo Ship. Wind gusts of more than 70 mph ripped cargo ship Ornak’s anchor from the seafloor at the Lynnhaven anchorage and caused it to run aground just a few hundred feet from Seagate Colony at Cape Henry Beach. Before becoming mired in the sand the Ornak ripped apart a fish net structure (see above). 
“Port Captain Talks about Freeing Grounded Cargo Ship”

The Lynnhaven Anchorage is located directly in front of Cape Henry Beach, a holding area for foreign colliers (coal ships) and cargo ships waiting for their turn at Portsmouth, Norfolk and Newport News docks for loading. Hampton Roads exports more coal than any other U.S. port.  Most of what the colliers load is metallurgical, or "met," coal, a raw ingredient for making steel.  Unlike the old days when foreign seamen were a fixture in Hampton Roads, only those with U.S. visas can venture ashore when their ship docks to load.  Companies chartering each ship pay about $17,000 a day. Some colliers must wait as long as a month for their cargo to arrive, and when global coal demands are high, twenty or more colliers can be seen at Lynnhaven Anchorage waiting for their port call. Those colliers, tall ships, an occasional aircraft carrier, and the night lights along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge) make the view from Cape Henry Beach more than just a horizon, all that is seen from the ocean front.
Colliers waiting at the Lynnhaven Anchorage 
“Coal Ships Create a Traffic Jam on Hampton Roads Waters,” Feb 21,2011
“Freighters - Floating Foreign Islands - Wait off Virginia Beach” 

Chic's Beach. There is a plaque here that reads "Chesapeake Beach, founded 1919." People instead have come to call it Chic's Beach. Luther "Chic" Ledington used to serve up limeade, ice cream, and hot dogs at his little stand.

Chic's Beach loses Out on Sand to Cape Henry Beach. Lynnhaven Inlet sand never reached as far as Chic’s Beach (running from "Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Beach" east to "Aeries on the Bay Beach Park") and year after year residents watched storm after storm whittle away at their beloved shoreline with some stretches as narrow as 10 feet at high tide or no beach at all.  Then in 2014, since Cape Henry Beach waterfront property owners having already gone through "public beach" releases (Chic’s Beach had not), the Lesner Bridge contractor found a ready-made home for that 60,000 cubic yards of sand on Cape Henry Beach. 
"Public Works Schedules Sand Replenishment for Cape Henry Beach," May 02, 2014
In Nov 2015 Chic's Beach residents stood in dismay at the southern edge of their diminished beach watching as Norfolk's Chesapeake beaches from the edge of Chic's Beach seven miles to Willoughby Spit were widened by 60 feet with 1.2 million cubic yards of sand worth $18.4 million and a promise from the federal government to replace washed away sand every nine years for the next 50 years using 70% of federal funds, all thanks to Hurricane Sandy’s federal money that flowed after that 2012 disaster. And again, to add insult to injury, in May 2016 Chic's Beach was left high and dry once again as trucks hauled 30,000 cubic yards of sand to areas from Westminster Canterbury to the Lesner Bridge. Missing out on these golden opportunities for sand, Chic’s Beach continued to be straddled with several beach front property owners still refusing to give permission to place sand in from of their properties on beaches they claimed to be “private property.”  Bruce Mills and Bill Page used old planning documents that attested to the fact Chic’s Beach was never meant to be public, but then Mills and Page never complained about free trash pickups or beach patrols on their “private” beach.
“Chic's Beach Sand Replenishment Inches Ahead” Nov 29, 2014
Then on May 25, 2016, a judge ruled that Chic’s Beach was public, just like every other beach along the Chesapeake Bay. This ruling made way for a replenishment project, a path forward for rebuilding a beach that badly needed it. The Department of Public Works estimated the sand replenishment program would cost about four million dollars, but it’s unlikely new sand will arrive until 2017, that is if funding is made available. The hold-out land owners were not happy and worried about non-residents, strangers, and other undesirables using what they had long assumed was their “private” beach.  Of course Mills was upset and told TV 10 WAVY News that “The city’s overreach is a violation of fundamental constitutional rights,” rights Mills and his supporters were willing to give up for more than $1 million. Paul Dimeck was also dismayed at the ruling and said it would bring more people and more cars. He told TV 10 WAVY News, “Where do they go to the bathroom?” worrying that the city might take the next step and install public toilets.
Chic's Beach - No Longer a Funky Place. Gone are the days when Chic’s Beach was a funky place back in those days when Chic Ledington serving up hot dogs at his little stand and there were super cool bungalows dotting the landscape. Perhaps Chic’s Beach could take a lesson from the North End residents on the Ocean Front fed up with boxy, three-story duplexes towering over their beach cottages. In April 2016 they succeeded in changing a zoning law to preserve the neighborhood’s character and discourage large three story  tract mansions. The Ocean Front new design guide stated, “porch lined streetscapes promote interest at the street level and community interaction,” designs now lost in the race to build more and more square footage on postage size Chic’s Beach lots, those three story "McMansions" snuffing out the beach view for others.
End of Bayview Ave where three-story duplexes tower over Chic's Beach.

 Three homes on Ocean View Ave at Chic's Beach have practically no beach in front
From the late 17th century when Chic’s Beach was known as Pleasure House Beach with an ordinary or tavern, the Pleasure House, that gave the beach its name to the 20th century when Luther "Chic" Ledington’s popular hot dog stand gave the beach a new name, this strip of beach was identified as an eclectic funky backwater from pirates to a melting pot mix of cafés and cottages. One such place was Tom Treesh’s house that looked like a boat. Treesh spent 20 years converting his home on Lauderdale Ave (a block away from the beach) to look like a boat. Then in 2013 Treesh’s ordeal with new neighbors helped mark the end of those bygone nostalgic days. When property values started soaring, those quaint cottages were replaced with three story condos with little to no character.  People moving into these sleek air conditioned homes started complaining about Treesh’s home.  Their complaints found their way to the city zoning board that had left Treesh alone for 20 years. By the end of 2013 he had it all torn down by order of the city, and by their doing so tore down one more piece of old Chic’s Beach.
Tom Treesh who spent 20 years converting his home to look like a boat, had to tear it down in 2013 after he failed to get correct permits.

Some of Chic’s Beach’s character still lingers, but only by searching. A quaint and funky house on Lauderdale Ave still stands. Hardly noticeable but looming behind the trees in the backyard is a 3 story McMansion. 
 “What's in a name? Chic's Beach,” the Virginian-Pilot, September 14, 2009
 “Man who spent 20 years converting home to look like a BOAT faces having to tear it down after he failed to get correct permits,” The Daily Mail, 19 May 2013
“Chic's Beach Sand Replenishment Inches Ahead,” Nov 29, 2014
“More sand Coming to Ocean View Beaches,” the Virginian Pilot, Mar 31, 2015
“Virginia Beach Plans Emergency Replenishment for Cape Henry,” the Virginian-Pilot, April 7, 2016
Virginia Beach Neighborhoods Move to Restore Signature Beach Cottages,” The Virginian-Pilot,  
 “Judge Rules in Favor of Va. Beach in Chic’s Beach Restoration Case,” TV10 WAVY News, May 25, 2016
April 2015 - Coal Colliers Move to Cape Charles. Ships waiting for a berth at Norfolk Southern’s Pier 6 terminal, Lamberts Point Norfolk (one of the largest coal-export complexes in the world), Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX Newport News, or Dominion Terminal Associates’ facility Newport News, are now required to be anchored off Cape Charles as of April 2015, causing an extra 30 mile, three- hour trip up the Chesapeake, and then an extra 30 mile, three- hour trip back to load coal. This has made a significant increase in expense for the coal colliers and the pilot boats. Why the change? Capt. Christopher Keane, who in June 2015 became commander of the Coast Guard’s Hampton Roads sector and the port captain, looked into federal regulations written in the late 1940s giving him discretion to permit merchant vessels to anchor at the Lynnhaven Anchorage. Even though current training is consistent with historical norms for off-shore exercises at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, East -Fort Story and even though there has never been any incident with colliers parked at the adjacent Lynnhaven Anchorage, Capt. Keane decided that ships in close proximity to naval exercises would impact the safety and security of his military people.
Merchant vessels must now check with the commanding officer of Little Creek-Fort Story before parking at the Lynnhaven Anchorage and may be required to move to Cape Charles on a moment’s notice, driving up the costs by requiring additional pilot services, more fuel and other expenses. Between April and May 2015 there has been only one collier allowed to park at the Lynnhaven Anchorage.
Now with coal exports down due to a massive coal oversupply in East Asia, Hampton Roads’ chilling reception of coal colliers could not have come at a worst time with its competition vying for increased coal export among ports in New York, Baltimore, Savannah, Ga., Mississippi and Camden, N.J plus ports along the Gulf Coast.

                                              Captain Christopher S. Keane
"Navy Training Moves Coal Ships to Cape Charles," the Virginian-Pilot, May 2, 2015
"Coal Exports' Weak Start Locally Could Signal Trend,” The Virginian-Pilot, May 11, 2015

April 20, 2017 - Flags fly along Shore Drive after their absence during winter months.
2016 - the Flags. An expenditure of roughly $104,000 in the city budget saw the erection of five sets of four flagpoles with colorful banners marking the entrance to the Bayfront Communities along Shore Drive and North Great Neck Road. This was part of efforts to beautify the area from funds earmarked for Shore Drive improvements to sidewalks, drainage and traffic.
The Cost of Pretty Flags, by Kerry Dougherty, The Virginian-Pilot, Jul 15, 2016

July 4th 2016 Celebration at Cape Henry Beach, continuing a yearly celebration the evening of the 3rd, this year was on the sand in front of a Whaler Court deck featured a top local band for the benefit of the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

The Canoes at Lesner Bridge in Ocean Park
This water color will be looking east over the new Lesner Bridge 
In Oct 2018 - Lesner Bridge Sculpture. In the heart of the Bayfront Communities, a new aluminum sculpture created by Donald Lipski was installed. It is a 26' wide by 46' tall starburst of ten canoes with LED lighting that provides an inviting evening tmosphere. Lipski’s idea for the canoes came from the first type boats to cross through the Lynnhaven Inlet. Adam Keeling, whose plantation was situated east of today’s Lesner Bridge, in August 1667 organized a group of people to dig a small pilot channel from the Lynnhaven River through a huge sandbar about a half-mile long to the Chesapeake Bay so boats would not have to make the long journey west to the mouth of the river which at that time was at Little Creek where today’s Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek is located. The trench dug was wide enough for a small boat (Lipski’s visualization was of a canoe) to paddle through the channel. A month later on September 6, 1667, the dreadful hurricane of 1667 struck, a storm considered one of the most severe hurricanes to ever strike Virginia. It forever changed the course of the river widening the little pilot channel to the Chesapeake. Installation of the sculpture is not expected to be in the way of ongoing bridge construction. 
Delicate, but strong: New canoe sculpture will rise from Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach, July 20,2018
Delicate, but strong: New canoe sculpture will rise from Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach, The Virginian Pilot, 23 April, 2017  

May 26, 2018 - Floatopia hosted 500-1,000 people at Ocean Park (between the Lesner Bridge and Water Oaks Beach along Jefferson Blvd). For several years it has been a pleasant gathering of beachgoers and boaters meeting on a quarter mile stretch of shoreline for a party. They brought anything and everything that would float. Some came by sea and others by land. They set up tents, started up grills, and filled coolers with beer. They anchored boats and played in the water.

Thanks to social media and word of mouth, the May 26, 2019 event brought more than ten times the 2018 crowd. With over 10,000 people things went poorly. For starters, they left tons of trash when they were finished, 10 tons of it.
Not only did two women leave trash, but they left their kids, an infant and seven-year-old were found dehydrated and overheated. There were drunks and fights. Without any bathroom, people named the beach “pee-topia."
 Norfolk Mom Charged With Being Drunk, Abandoning Children at Floatopia in Virginia Beach,” the Virginian Pilot, May 30, 2019
"No Permits, No Security": Floatopia Event Angers Ocean Park Beach Residents, the Virginian Pilot, 30 May, 2019
Vacation at One of Chesapeake Beaches 
Little Creek (military only), Chic’s, Bay Lake, Aeries on the Bay Park, Water Oaks, Ocean Park, Chesapeake Point, Cape Henry, First Landing, and Fort Story (military only). 

The city of Virginia Beach is now promoting “Three Beaches, One Vacation” - the Resort Area Beach, Sandbridge Beach and Chesapeake Beach; but besides gentler waves, good restaurants, the two light houses and First Landing Sate Park, the city is not offering much enticement to come to the Chesapeake beaches.
Here’s what they’re missing……for starters there's a few things the Chesapeake Beaches have over the Ocean Front - no sharks; no long trip over 400 feet of hot sand; no long waits at some of the best VA Beach restaurants; great kayak launch; warmer waters late into October; more interesting views out into container and military ship traffic lanes; close-by grocery, drug and hardware stores; a beach away from the riffraff and much more.

 Sunrise over Ft Story as seen from Cape Henry Beach 
Sunset over the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier as seen from Cape Henry Becah
Sun up - Sun Down – Since Chesapeake beaches are facing north, one can see the sunrise and sunset in the summer time, a big plus that the Resort Area and Sandbridge Beaches don’t have. Vacationers flock to Mallory Square in Key West, Florida, to celebrate the sunset and up in Maine, they drive up Cadillac Mountain to see the nation's first sunrise. Chesapeake beaches have both and they’re usually gorgeous.
Dog Beach – All along the Chesapeake beaches dogs don't need to be on a leash, but they do need to be under control, licensed and up to date on their rabies vaccinations; however, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, they are banned between 10 am and 6 pm (the sand’s too hot anyway) according to the city code.
“Dogs on Cape Henry Beach Don't Need to Be on a Leash,” July 5, 2012
"Carolina Dog" -

Kid Beach. Because of the gentle waves and  water depths not over four feet until around 40 feet out into the bay, it’s the perfect beach for kids.

Family Beach.  There are many reasons families are discovering Cape Henry Beach compared to the Ocean Front – less hassle, free parking, gentle waves, shallow waters,  easy access (especially for rubber ducky and paddle boards), and no beach patrols around to hand out tickets for what you’re wearing or not wearing or what’s in your cup.  When it’s time to leave the beach that never closes, there’s fun and eats for the whole family at very reasonably priced family establishments like McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts, Guadalajara Bar And Grill,  Plaza Azteca, Subway, Zero's Subs, 7-Eleven, No. 1 Chinese Restaurant(carryout),  Foon's Chinese (carryout), Famous Uncle Al's (hotdogs), Tropical Smoothie Café, Tini's Frozen Yogurt Bar and the most popular of them all for old and young alike - ShoreBreak Pizza and Billiards with the best pizza and burger in town, tons of games for the kids and wall- to -wall big screen TV’s tuned to every imaginable sports show on the air. They’ll even bring the food to you on the beach (just tell them the street name of the public access).
ShoreBreak Pizza and Billiards – 2941 Shore Dr (757) 481-9393  

Free Parking with a short walk to the beach. If you are spending the day, there are no public restrooms except at First Landing State Park Beach ($5 per vehicle on weekdays and $7 on weekends).  Folks at Cape Henry Beach have found restroom access at the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier, McDonald's and the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel (for patrons only but un-patrolled). Pull in to one of these establishments (free parking), have a drink and then enjoy Cape Henry Beach.
Dolphin Watch Sunset Cruise. Experience life like never before with dolphin-watching trips from Dockside Seafood Ramp in Virginia Beach. Sunset cruises on Virginia Beach last approximately an hour and a half and depart nightly, except Monday nights at 6:30pm beginning Memorial Day thru Labor Day.

Premium Restaurants featured in the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
- Leaping Lizard Café, 4408 Shore Dr, (757) 460-5327 
(best homemade cookies) 
-  Citrus, 2265 W Great Neck Rd, (757) 227-3333 
(best breakfast)
- Carib Shack, 2272 W Great Neck Rd #2242, 692-6851 Restaurants on the Water (there are more but these are the best)
Surf Rider (picture above) - 
Dockside -
Both Pier Café and Dockside Restaurant are no more. Westminster Canterbury  bought the restaurants and the pier in 2018. The pier was shortened to 100 feet and the only use so far is parking (a six million dollar parking lot).

Simple Eats (picture above).  If you want fresh food (veggies, fruits, fish and meat) fixed unique ways (tacos, salads, and sandwiches on sourdough bread) featuring local "farm to table" dishes, locally roasted coffee and various local beers and wines from the across the state of Virginia, then this is the place for you. Bright and cheery décor and staff serving breakfast from 7 a.m., lunch, and early dinner until 8 p.m.
3152 Shore Drive – 277-2102 

A Bite of Maine. (In Aug 2017 the restaurant moved from the parking lot (picture above) back to one of the store fronts - 2865 Lynnhaven Drive Suite A, 
tel 352-0268 next to Taylor's Hardware - open only three days each week Friday (11am-7pm),  Saturday (11am-7pm), Sunday (11am-5pm).  Melisa Textor and Wayne Sughrin get lobster from a refrigerated truck that arrives hear from Kennebunk, ME. early Friday mornings with just caught fish and lobsters. One would think they'd set up somewhere closer to Maine, but they've got friends and relatives here, making VA Beach blessed.  

Shore Drive Parasail - Dockside Fishing Center - 3311 Shore Drive - 359-8442

McDonald's, 2876 Shore Dr (757) 481-4578 – a block away from one of Cape Henry Beach’s public access walks. What could be better than breakfast on the beach while watching the sun come up or for an evening snack watching the sun go down - parking and restrooms provided – “I’m lovin’ it.”

Restaurants. Here is a list of my picks for the better restaurants near Cape Henry Beach (in no particular order)
*Hot Tuna, 2817 Shore Drive - 481-2888
*Blue Cow Ice Cream Co, 2817 Shore Dr.
*Milton’s Bay Café, 2253 West Great Neck Rd - 481-1793
*Surf Rider Grill, (opens in May), 2100 Marina Shores Dr - 481-5646
*Tropical Smoothie Café, Marina Shores - 965-6965
*The Taste of Maine, Marina Shores  - 352-0268   
*Ballyhoos, 2865 Marina Shores  - 412-4441
*Tini's Frozen Yogart Bar, Marina Shores  - 496-9478
*Citrus (breakfast and lunch), 2263 West Great Neck Rd - 227-3333
*The Bier Garden Festhaus - 2272 W Great Neck Rd,481-2319
*Carib Shack, 2272 W Great Neck Rd #2242, 692-6851
*Riptide Café and Tiki Bar, 2301 Red Tide Rd - 481-9463
*Shore Break, 2941 Shore Dr - 481-9393
*Bay Local Eatery (breakfast and lunch), 2917 Shore Dr - 227-4389
*OBS Oyster Bar and Steaks, 2947 Shore Dr - 227-3516
*Chicho's Pizza, 2957 Shore Dr - 226-9867
*The Pig Shop BBQ Eatery, 2955 Shore Drive 578-5633
*Guadalajara Bar and Grill, 2916 Shore Dr - 481-2918
*Sakura Japanese Rest, Lynnhaven Colony Shoppes, Shore Dr - 412-2200
*La Pizzeria, 2973 Shore Dr,  496-2600
*Famous Uncle Al's Hot Dog & Fries, 3045 Shore Dr - 481-2718
*Simple Eats, 3152 Shore Drive - 962-3676

*CP Shuckers, 3232 Shore Dr - 412-2929
*BoBo's Fine Chicken, 3139 Shore Dr - 416-5595
*Mermaid Winery, 4401 Shore Drive - 233-4155
*Leaping Lizard Café, 4408 Shore Drive - 460-5327
*Dockside Restaurant, 3311 Shore Dr - 481-0372
*The Back Deck,  3323 Shore Dr – 481-7512
*Taste (sandwich and deli), 4097 Shore Dr - 464-1566
*Croakers Neighborhood Grill, 3629 Shore Dr – 363-2490
*Froggie's 3656, Shore Drive -  216-3300
*Bucketheads Beach Grill, 3657 Shore Dr - 318-7263
*Rita's Italian Ice and Frozen Custard,4640 Shore Drive - 390-4890
*Café on Shore, 4640 Shore Dr - 226-9879

*Tropical Smoothie Café, 4701 Shore Dr - 460-3350
*Misako Asian Cuisine , 4701 Shore Dr - 321-3123
*Bayside Laundry & Grill, Chic's Bch Shopg Ctr, 4865 Shore Dr - 464-1356
*Cajun Seafood, 2103 Pleasure House - 464-0888
*Jenna's Café, 2104 Pleasure House -4600973
*Restaurante Ole,'  5191 Shore Dr - 460-0555

Switching Gears Bicycle Shop, 2248 Seashore Shoppes, 965-2555. Right on the Cape Henry bike trail and conveniently located across the street from Virginia Beach Resort Hotel. Ride past the northern most ecosystem of Spanish Moss covered Bald Cypress, a real sight (see above articles on "1933 - Work on First Landing State Park" and "Cape Henry Trail").

Virginia Beach Resort Hotel offers a fully-equipped health club featuring weight-training equipment, stationery bikes, treadmills, sauna, whirlpool, HydroSonic Infrasound Relaxation System,  professional massage, in-door/outdoor pool and rights to the Virginia Beach Tennis Club (

Condo Rentals - less expensive than the Ocean Front, Outer Banks or Sandbridge and right on Cape Henry Beach, a real bargain, listed below - two people to three collective families. 

VRBO – Home Away From Home
2411 Spinnaker Court - $2800/wk (Peak season mid-June- Sept 5)
4 Bedrooms, Sleeps 12, 3.0 Bathrooms
(there's a room with bunk beds for six kids), 3 bathrooms.
Rent through owner - Rent through owner - Dana MC Gee 478-7921    

Atkinson Realty ERA Inc. Chesapeake Bay Vacation Rentals (757) 769-8148
Not Shown - 2411 Ketch Court Virginia Beach Rental Home - $2800/wk
5 Bedrooms, sleeps 10, 3 Bathrooms
In Season - Jun 15, 2013 Aug 16, 2013
Airbnb – Zoom in for Chesapeake Beach
Some of my Choices for Airbnb
Airbnb - Beachfront on the Chesapeake Bay - $225/night - a beachfront property on the Chesapeake Bay just steps from the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier. You’ll love the views, the beach, the water, the local restaurants, and atmosphere. Enjoy fishing, crabbing, stand up paddling, beach work outs, and beach front BBQ's. 
Airbnb - On a House Boat - $135/nitght - Large space and comfortable bedrooms to give you the feel of living on the water. Beautiful water view and wildlife. Short way from the beach off Shore Drive.
Airbnb - Ocean Park Cottage - Garden by Bay - $83/night

Airbnb - $65/ night - Close proximity to Cape Henry Beach. This is a guest room in a private home, safe & beautiful location, comfortable bed and very hospitable hosts.

Camping and Cabin Rentals in First Landing State Park - price from $94 to $139 per night. 

Bayville Farms Park, 4132 First Ct Rd - 20-hole disc golf course, horseshoe pits, basketball and tennis courts (lighted until 11 pm), shuffleboard courts, volleyball courts, walking trails, vending machines, picnic shelters, restrooms, diaper changing areas, and two dog parks (separate fenced areas for small and large dogs) - all free.

Two Rec Centers -
-Great Neck Recreation Center, 2521 Shorehaven Dr - Cardio equipment, circuit training, and free weights; indoor pool with lap lanes, diving board; locker rooms and showers; multipurpose gymnasium, racquetball courts, pool tables, ping pong; and kids play area with an indoor play structure
-Bayside Recreation Center, 4500 First Court Rd (same as Great Neck Rec Center)

Pleasure House Point Natural Area - located just west of the Lesner Bridge and south of the Chesapeake Bay is 118 acres of water, tidal marsh, sandy shores and maritime forest. Nice walking trails. Bring a picnic and sit out on the porch of the Brock Environmental Center (see above January 5, 2015 - Brock Environmental Center).

The Farm Market  is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at 2961 Shore Drive in the Lynnhaven Square Shopping Center parking lot, providing regional, fresh vegetables and meat. While just opening in June 2015, it has the prospect of becoming a big tourist attraction like Seattle’s Pike Place Market and New Orleans’ French Market. 

Chic’s Beach Annual Art Show, 3rd Saturday in June, 10–4 pm (info (757) 468-1193) with live entertainment, local artists, food and free parking under the oaks next to Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant on the corner of Lookout Road and Fentress Ave near the Bay. Find some good buys here.
Right next to the art show is Hell’s Kitchen, in my opinion the best restaurant at Chic’s Beach  (757) 605-3022
Happy Winds Watersports – includes the only certified kiteboarding school in the Hampton Roads area -

The Adam Thoroughgood House (a National Historic Landmark) 1636 Parish Road, (757) 460-7588 built between 1639 and 1645 but re-dated to around 1719 by the City of Virginia Beach after purchasing it from the City of Norfolk in 2003.  

Thoroughgood House Loses Claim to Fame,” 17 March 2011
Old Homes”
The City of Virginia Beach circa 1719 house scenario: Adam Thoroughgood and his family lived in his first house as late as 1650 when it burned down. Adam’s son, Adam II (1638 - 1685), became of age in 1658 and built a house for his son Argall I (1659- 1704) around that time.  Until Adam II finished the house, Sarah and her children lived in an unknown location after the 1650 fire up until 1658. After 1658 Adam II, his son (Argall I -1660- 1700) and grandson (Argall II - 1687 – 1719) lived in the house. Sometime before 1719 Argall II began construction of a house, the house now standing, but died in the midst of construction.
Twentieth Century historians described a different history of the Adam Thoroughgood House.
The circa 1645 house scenario: In 1639 Adam started the construction of a more substantial house to replace his first house. This house, called the Manor House and possibly the one now standing, lacked one brick wall when Adam died in 1640. In 1645 Adam’s widow had Mr. James Smyth, a brick mason, complete the unfinished 4th wall; and Sarah moved out of Adam’s first house and into the Manor House. In 1647 Sarah’s third husband, Colonel Francis Yeardley (1620-1655), came to live with her in the Manor House. With Adams first house now vacant, Sarah set up an “ordinary” (tavern) for the benefit of travelers along the Lynnhaven River. Some time in c. 1678 Adam’s grandson Argall I built a house for his bride Pembroke Fowler and moved out of the Manor House. When their son Argall II married Susannah Sanford in 1709, he and his wife moved back into the Manor House where his wife and children continued to live after Argall II’s 1719 death.

Fort StoryThe Cape Henry Memorial Colonial National Historic Park on the grounds of the Joint Expeditionary Base East (Ft Story). Climb the lighthouse and see a breathtaking view of the mouth of Chesapeake. A bit further up the road is a parking area at the Cape Henry Memorial Park. Here is the First Landing Cross dedicated to the Jamestown settlers who landed there on April 26, 1607.  Across a lawn is a memorial dedicated to the Battle of the Capes and a statue of French Fleet Commander de Grasse who led the French Fleet in blocking the English from re-supplying the English at Yorktown during the Revolutionary War.  There’s also a nice boardwalk leading to a view of the ocean.
“Shining the Light on Fort Story, VA”-

Nearby - 

Kayak Access Sites Chesapeake Bay, Lynnhaven River and Broad Bay.
If you have your kayak or rent one, here’s where you can launch – most are free.
Note: "Google Maps" the address to see exactly where each site is located.
*Lynnhaven River, Western Branch - 1625 Spring House Trail.
*Boat Channel to Broad Bay - Adam Keeling Rd and North Great Neck Rd.
* Lynnhaven River, Eastern Branch - Great Neck Park.
* Lake Joyce - 4300 Shore Dr (Baylake United Methodist Church, Virginia Beach, VA).
*Lake Joyce - 400 Indian Hill Road.
*Lake Joyce - 2341 Bayville Road.
*Chesapeake Bay - 2410 Whaler Court.
*Chesapeake Bay - Billy B. Post, LCSW, Bayview Avenue.
*Nearby Lake Smith - 5397 Shell Rd (Lake Smith Fishing Station).
* Lynnhaven River, Western Branch - Lynnhaven Boat Ramp & Beach Facility, Piedmont Circle.
* Lafayette River, Norfolk - Kayak Launch at LaValette Ave. dead end.
For more information visit 
VA Beach / Norfolk Kayak Launch @
and Virginia Beach and Norfolk Free Kayak Launch Sites  @

Botanical Garden, 441-5830 ext. 324 (front desk), 6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk
- World of Wonders: A Children’s Adventure Garden is a three-acre garden is dedicated to families and children. World of Wonders has several distinct areas, each offering different interactive lessons, but all offering excitement, enrichment and entertainment. Come prepared to get wet. Shoes are required.

- Butterfly House, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm  June 14 – September 21, 2014. The enclosed house provides an unbelievable opportunity to observe butterflies as they circle and land on their favorite nectar flowers providing guaranteed amazement and educational opportunities. It’s the perfect compliment to the 2.5 acre Bristow Butterfly Garden and the giant Butterfly Maze.
- Boat and Tram Tours - (May 1 to October 15) at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 5pm daily and Tram (10 am  – 4 pm)  hourly during the week and every 1/2 hour on weekends (May 23-September 7)
- Bike Nights: 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm  Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 2 – October 15, 2014 - 12 miles of pedestrian pathways are open to bikers!

Ocean View Beach Park: end of Granby Street at Ocean View Avenue, Big Bands on the Bay Concert Series every Sunday during the summer months from 7-9 pm. There is a large green lawn where kids run and play during the music.  Bring beach chairs and grab some of the best fried or baked chicken at Pollard’s Chicken @ 8370 Tidewater Drive, Norfolk.  Every Sunday evening you can go back in time to the era of big bands and real dancing.  
Day Trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (Lucius J. Kellam Jr. Bridge) 
Cape Charles -
Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge
Manteo on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. A group of English Settlers could have settled in the Chesapeake Bay before the Jamestown Settlers. Here's their story.

1584-1590 - The Lost Colony of Roanoke Island
This is the story of an attempt by the English to create a permanent settlement in the New World.

Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603)
Sir Walter Raleigh (1554 – 1618)
Manteo - Croatan, Algonquian leader (c.1562 – c.1645)

Our continent was named after the Italian Amerigo Vespucci because he was first to realize that Columbus’s famous 1492 voyage had not found Asia's eastern outskirts, but rather an entirely separate huge land mass. This New World became an obsession among European nations to claim its riches. Englishman Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), a favorite of Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603), learned that treasures could be found north of Spain’s earlier expeditions in Florida. Rather hesitant, the frugal queen relented, and provided Raleigh funds to sponsor an exploratory expedition. Led by Captains Arthur Barlow and Philip Amadas, on July 4th, 1584, they landed at an island 90 miles south of the Chesapeake Bay (today's Hatteras Island). There they met young Manteo, a friendly chief of the Croatan tribe. They left after a month, taking along Manteo and another Native-American (incorrectly called Indians) named Wanchese. In London their stories of the New World and the two Indians’ strange appearance so excited Queen Elizabeth that she knighted Walter Raleigh, Sir Walter, giving him a seven-year patent to settle the New World, and in return Sir Walter named the new English land Virginia in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. This set the path for more explorations and the following spring in 1585 Raleigh sponsored a second expedition,  seven ships with 600 men under the command of Sir Richard Grenville. Again, they were well received by the local Indians. Sailing up the sound of Hatteras to today's Roanoke Island, Grenville decided the north backside of this interior island would be the site for the first settlement, mainly because it would not be accessible to large Spanish ships, a country they feared was about to attack English interests. The 600 men spent the summer building a small earthworks fort, Fort Raleigh, and a few houses. In August 1585 Grenville sailed back to England. He left behind now-acting Governor Sir Ralph Lane (1532-1603) in charge of 107 to winter. Even though relations with the Croatan Indians remained friendly, by autumn relations with another tribe on Roanoke, the Algonquian Indians, turned sour and the English ended up killing their chief Pemisapan (Wingina). With no help now from the Indians the English almost starved to death during the winter. In the spring Lane sent a group under the command of Captain Stafford to Cape Hatteras. After three weeks the group sighted Sir Francis Drake’s fleet coming to check on the 107 men after Drake’s fleet had finished destroying the Spanish colony at St. Augustine.  Even though half-starved his offer to take the 107 men with him back to England was declined, but then a fierce storm encouraged all of the 107 to go with Drake.
Grenville’s relief fleet returned that 1586 spring to find no sign of Lane’s 107 men, and no sign that the men had only recently left in starving conditions with Drake. Grenville spent two weeks in the empty fort before sailing back to England.  Unwilling to abandon the fort, he left 15 soldiers behind to winter over.  Fighting with Indians continued and 2 of the 15 were killed as found out later by John White. The other 13 escaped in a boat left for them by Grenville. They rowed up the coast to the Chesapeake and lived peacefully for 21 years in one of two friendly Chesepian Indian villages, Chesepiuc and Apasus. Not too long before the Jamestown settlers arrived in 1607, Powhatan’s priest, a man who wielded great power, foretold of a nation that would rise up from the east and destroy his empire. He took no chances and sent loyalists to massacre a tribe that had not pledged allegiance to him, the Chesepians.  Among them were the 13 English soldiers from Roanoke Island as revealed by Chief Powhatan to Captain John Smith. To add validity to his claim, Powhatan showed Smith several iron products which must have been made in England. Examination by researcher Brandon Fullam suggested that the massacre described by Powhatan included the 13 people of the 15 left behind by Grenville’s 1585 Roanoke expedition. Back in England during the winter of 1586-7 Raleigh pulled together his last attempt to colonize the new world. This expedition would be different. It would be a permanent colony made up not just of soldiers, but of families willing to settle there for life, and it would not be on Roanoke Island but along the Chesapeake Bay. First, not realizing the fate of the 15 men left behind in 1586 had left, they would first stop at Roanoke to retrieve them, before sailing on to the Chesapeake Bay. Led by John White and piloted by Simon Fernandez, the three ships left Plymouth on April 26th, 1587, carrying 91 men, 17 women, 9 children, and Manteo.  John White’s pregnant daughter and her husband were among the passengers. They were supposed to get supplies as they sailed through the Caribbean islands, but this did not happen as Fernandez was bent on a quick trip to Roanoke, dropping his passengers off there and not even taking them on to the Chesapeake Bay.
On July 27th, three months later, they arrived at Manteo’s home on Hatteras Island to inquire about the 15 men left by Grenville the previous year on Roanoke. The Indians explained that two of these were killed while the rest escaped in a boat. Arriving at Roanoke Island a week later, Manteo was christened on Aug 13, 1587, making him the first Native American to be baptized into the Church of England, and five days later on Aug 18, Ananias Dare and Eleanor White (John White’s daughter) had their first child, Virginia Dare, making her the first English child born in the New World. The 117 colonists arrived too late to plant crops, and their situation quickly grew desperate. They persuaded White to return to England to plead for help. Since Fernandez refused to take the colonists on to the Chesapeake Bay, they were left on Roanoke, and White went with Fernandez back to England. White arrived amid the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604), requiring every ship to fight the Spanish Armada. He wouldn’t return to Roanoke for nearly four years. When he finally did in 1590, he found the colony deserted. There were no skeletal remains and no evidence the fort had been dismantled. On a fence post was carved the word “Croatoan,” where Manteo lived on Hatteras Island. White wanted to launch a search, but the sailors he was traveling with refused since there was a storm coming. White left with them the next day never to return, and no one has heard from the Roanoke Colonists since. There are various theories as to what happened next. Since White did not return for almost four years, and the Algonquian Indians probably remained hostile, the colonists were either killed by Indians on Roanoke Island, or they left, either together or in separate groups. Three popular scenarios in order of probability are
1. They went with Manteo to his village.
2. They traveled inland to be away from possible Spanish attack.
3. They were killed by the Indians.

1. White had left instructions for the colony to leave signs to indicate where they would go if they left Roanoke, and the word “Croatoan” carved on a fence post was where Manteo, a leader of the Croatoan Indians lived, the modern-day Buxton on Hatteras Island. In 2009 Mark Horton, an archaeologist at Britain’s Bristol University, a volunteer with the Croatoan Archaeological Society, while searching near Buxton, found a small piece of a slate writing tablet alongside a lead pencil and a light sword similar to those used in England in the late 16th century. He also found other artifacts of European origin. Horton told the National Geographic Society that the artifacts most likely belonged to the Roanoke colonists. Hatteras Indians say several of their ancestors were white people and could “talk in a book.” Some had gray eyes adding to the proof the English lived with these Indians.

John White’s detailed 425-year-old map showing the route taken by one group from the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. 
2. The Roanoke colonists could have moved inland away from possible Spanish attack since the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) was just heating up. Ralph Lane in 1586 had noted an inland place 50 miles to the west where the Mettaquem Indians had a village, and before John White left in 1587 he told the colonists to “remove 50 miles into the main.” The inland location had been a mystery right up to 2012 until British researchers found overlooked symbols hidden for centuries under a patch on John White’s map showing the new site 50 miles west in an area around Salmon Creek in the Merry Hill community, just across the Albemarle Sound from Edenton, in Bertie County, North Carolina. In 2007 a hunt for historically significant artifacts in the area, researchers found remains of the Mettaquem Indian village and early English pottery. Could some or all of the Roanoke colonists integrated into the Mettaquem tribe? Jamestown authorities have heard stories about white people living among Indians in the surrounding area. Researchers plan to continue looking.

People who believe the Lost Colonists could have lived with the local Indians is aided by stories of Virginia Dare becoming a worshiped Queen by the Indians.

At the north end of Roanoke Island’s Elizabethan Gardens stands the Virginia Dare Statue. Virginia Dare became the first English child born in the New World on Aug. 18, 1587. Sculptor Maria Louisa Lander of Salem, Mass., became enamored with Virginia after a visit to the British Museum, where she saw White’s drawings of the New World. White’s depiction of a Native American woman in beads with arms folded inspired Lander, Buford said. Lander imagined Virginia survived with the natives. He labored 14 months in a Rome studio to create her statue depicting how she imagined an adult Virginia would look, finishing the work in 1859. A ship carrying Lander’s masterpiece to the United States in 1860 sank off the coast of Spain. The statue lay at the bottom of the sea for two years until Lander paid to salvage it. A collector from New York City who bought the piece for $5,000 died soon afterward in a fire. The statue survived, protected by a pair of folding doors and was sold back to Lander where he kept it for years. Lander died in 1923, leaving the statue to North Carolina, where it was put on display in a public building in Raleigh. Complaints came to state officials that the nudity was unacceptable near portraits of three Confederate generals. The statue was moved to a basement and then to the state auditor’s office. People mocked it with it such pranks as applying lipstick. It was sent in 1938 to the outdoor theater on Roanoke Island, home of Paul Green’s then-new play “The Lost Colony” which started in 1937 and has been the longest-running symphonic drama without being altered as current information was found by archeologists including the information on the Dare Stone which surfaced about the same time the play began. but remained in a crate there until after World War II which at one point was submersed in a flood. The statue was sent to Green’s home in Chapel Hill, where it remained crated until the 1950s, when he donated it to the Elizabethan Gardens. And so, the Virginia Dare statue, surviving shipwreck, fire, abandonment and rebuff, finally came to rest in the Elizabethan Gardens, almost 100 years after her creation.

3. With the significant differences in language and customs, the possibility that the Roanoke colonists could have befriended the Indians and lived with them does not seem credible to some. The finding of a stone with an etching sealing the Roanoke colonists’ fate only adds to this scenario. This stone (called the Dare Stone) surfaced in 1937 revealing that most of the group, including Eleanor’s daughter Virginia, were killed by Indians in 1591 when Virginia was just four years old. Ananias Dare was a stonemason and could have taught his wife Eleanor the trade, the one who supposedly carved the message into the stone. A California man found it while driving through the Carolina coastal region. He delivered the 21-pound rock to the history department of Emory University. Emory history professor Haywood Pearce Jr. advertised a $50 reward for any other stones with similar markings. By 1940, forty-seven more stones were found. These proved to be fake. Pearce, now discredited, wound up at Brenau University, near Gainesville, GA. The stones went with him, where they were mainly forgotten. In 2015 the stones were re-examined by a team of archaeologists who reported that the first stone found was distinct from the others. The National Geographic Society suggested that further analysis should be undertaken. In 2016 Brenau geologist Ed Schrader took the first stone to the University of North Carolina at Asheville for analysis. After slicing off one end of the quartzite stone, it was discovered that the interior was bright white, while the exterior and carvings were much darker. The original inscription would have been a stark contrast to the weathered exterior, unlikely for a modern forger. Using chemicals to mask the color, particularly in the 1930s, would have been difficult. Brenau University retains the Dare Stones until further testing is done using new advances in chemical analysis and epigraphy. Brenau’s Schrader hopes to organize such a study in the near future to see, once and for all, whether the message written on the Dare Stone is one of America’s most important artifacts, or a remarkable fake that duped some of the country’s most respected scholars.  

1591-1645 -John White later wrote, “I greatly joyed that I had found a certain token of their being at Croatoan where Manteo was born ...” White died in 1593. In 1591 to avoid being killed by other confederations who had taken control of the region, Manteo left the English party and travelled north to Massachusetts where his ancestors were part of the Renape tribe. There he lived, and in the 1630’s served as an interpreter and ambassador for the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop (1588 – 1649). Manteo died in the 1640’s.

“Researcher Believes He’s Found Link To Lost Colony,” The Virginian Pilot, Feb 27, 2019
Roanoke Island Festival Park Adventure Museum is an interactive museum about the history of colonial-era English settlers who became known as the “Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.”
The Dare Stones

Virginia Dare, from Wikipedia -
Dare Stones Hoax: September, 1937
Is This Inscribed Stone a Notorious Forgery—or the Answer to America’s Oldest Mystery? National Geographic Magazine, June 2018
The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke Jun 5, 2018 by Andrew Lawler. He gave a one hour talk on his book at the Slover Library July 5, 2018.
Virginia Dare Statue Was Shipwrecked, Mocked and Nearly Lost in a Fire. Now, It's Revered, The Virginian-Pilot ,  Aug 16, 2017 -
 The Roanoke Lost Colony, Wikipedia (last edited 2016) –
 North Carolina, British Researchers Find Clue to location of Lost Colony, May 04, 2012 -  
First Landing State Park and the Last Trace of a Vanquished Nation, 1 April, 2013 by Ben Swenson  
Native Americans. by Andrew Lawler, National Geographic, August 7, 2015
Virginia’s Connection to the Lost Colony, by Richard Proescher, the Virginian Pilot, Sep 15, 2013 -
What happened to the colony of Roanoke?
Artifacts Show Lost Colony Settlers Moved to Hatteras Island, Lived with Natives, Historian Say, by Jeff Hampton, The Virginian-Pilot, Jul 1, 2017
 Manteo (Native American leader), from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Researchers Work to Confirm that Native American Manteo Who Helped Lost Colony Later Moved to Massachusetts, Helped Governor There” by Jeff Hampton, Virginian-Pilot, Mar 31, 2017
Researchers Work to Confirm that Native American Manteo Who Helped Lost Colony Later Moved to Massachusetts, Helped Governor There, by Jeff Hampton, The Virginian-Pilot
Mar 31, 2017
The Lost Colony Of Roanoke, By Michael Farquhar,
Dismissed as a Forgery, Could a Mysterious Stone Found Near Roanoke’s Lost Colony
The Colony at Roanoke, by Ralph Lane 1586 -
The Lost Colony of Roanoke: Did They Survive? – National Geographic, Archaeology, Historical Records and DNA, June 28, 2018 On
Archaeologists Find New Clues to “Lost Colony” Mystery, August 10, 2015
 Chesepians Village at Great Neck Point, from Wikipedia, (last edited on 15 August 2014) 
 The Chesepians known as the Chesapeake, Apasus and Chesepioc, 29 Oct 2016 
Chesapeake People, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 
Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606, 1985, by David Quinn -
Manteo, NC Travel Guide& amp; Photos -
Roanoke Island Festival Park,
Pemisapan (Wingina), by F. Roy Johnson June 1586
Lost Colony Settlers Ended Up Here. Now It's Becoming a State Natural Area, by Jeff Hampton, The Virginian-Pilot, Mar 31, 2018
Scholars Will Take a Fresh Look at The Authenticity of a Rock Purporting to Reveal the Fate of the Lost Colony Of Roanoke Island, by Andrew Lawler, June 2018 National Geographic fx

p.s. If you have an interest in the old homes in VA Beach, read “Old Homes - Lynnhaven Parish Parishioners as Viewed through their Historical Homes,” @

Thanks for reading “Cape Henry.” Your comments and suggestions are always welcome!

Bob Perrine -
2416 Whaler Ct
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Old Donation Episcopal Church Historian


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