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Guide to the Area

At Yorktown, the National Park Service is seeking to preserve and to interpret all surviving features and reminders of the 18th century and to restore the scene as closely as possible to what it was in 1781—before and during the siege. Accordingly, development has included the reconstruction and restoration of buildings, fortifications, roads, and other features after prolonged historical research. Where needed, archeological excavations have revealed additional information on location and identification. In addition to the program affecting the area administered by the Service, every effort is made to encourage private building and development in the neighborhood to follow a pattern that will add to and enhance the picture and the atmosphere which are being sought.

park historian and visitors
A park historian tells Visitors about this original siege cannon over looking the York River.
(Courtesy, Thomas L. Williams.)

The following numbers correspond to those on the guide map (pages 28 and 29):

1. VISITOR CENTER. It is suggested that you stop first at the Visitor Center located high above the York River and nestled in a curve of existing fortifications. It is on the southeast edge of town with convenient connection to the Colonial Parkway. Park personnel is available here to assist you in planning your visit, as well as an information desk, literature, a series of exhibits including Washington's Tent, and several dioramas. An introductory program of slides and motion pictures is featured. Included, too, is the Ship Exhibit—a reconstructed section of a gundeck and of the captain's cabin of a British 44-gun frigate, the Charon, which was sunk at Yorktown in 1781. It aids in the display of objects salvaged from the river. On the roof of the Visitor Center is an observation deck where you can view the town, the battlefield, and the river. Adjacent to the building are old existing embarkments on which are Revolutionary War artillery pieces. One is the Lafayette Cannon, a piece taken from the British at Yorktown by troops under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette and later recognized by him in 1824 when he saw it at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York.

ship exhibit
The Ship Exhibit—a section of a gun deck and a part of the Captain's Cabin (reconstructed) of the 44-gun British frigate CHARON


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