From Waters to Mariners’, The Making of a Lake

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Did you know Virginia has only two natural lakes? The rest are man-made, including our very own Mariners’ Lake! It holds the title as the first, and the oldest, project started on the grounds of The Mariners’ Museum Park. Before the purchase of the land surrounding it, The Mariners’ Lake was a salt marsh creek called Waters Creek, sometimes incorrectly referred to as Watts Creek. You can learn more about that, here! Apart from the vision of creating a maritime museum, Archer Huntington (our founder and owner of the Newport News Shipyard) and his wife Anna Hyatt (renowned sculptor), wanted to create a wildlife sanctuary. They also wanted a place to display several of Anna’s sculptures. The rural setting and proximity to the Shipyard helped to make this spot the ideal location. You can read more about why this area was chosen, here.

Although our official birthday is June 2nd, planning for the Lake and Park began months prior. In December of 1929, internal memos show that land acquisition was already being discussed and negotiations had started. In a memo from Homer Ferguson, President of the Newport News Shipyard, to Archer Huntington:   Read more

A Great Plan Creates Great Plants

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The Mariners’ Museum Park was meticulously planned out. Early goals of the Park included a wildlife sanctuary and a tree of each species found in Virginia. Land purchases began in March of 1930 and lasted for three years until 44 parcels had been purchased, ultimately equalling over 820 acres, to make these dreams a reality. Our original Park extended from the James River shoreline to modern-day Jefferson Avenue. 

As the land purchases were completed, work began on the roads to access the Park. As you can see from the map above, all roads were on the edges of the Park except for Warwick Boulevard, then named only Route 60. Both Archer Huntington, the founder of our Museum and owner of the Newport News Shipyard, and his wife Anna Hyatt, renowned sculptor, thought to keep all roads on the exterior of the Park enhanced its beauty and created a true wildlife sanctuary.   Read more

Celebrate Pollinator Week June 22-28, 2020

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Bee in beardtongue flower
Calico beardtongue with a fuzzy, busy visitor!
Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Today’s post is in honor and celebration of Pollinator Week

Warning: This post is full of cute bee butts!   Read more

Living the Wild Life

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Loblolly pine tree in the Park.
Loblolly pine tree in The Mariners’ Museum Park. Photographed by Amanda Shields.

When you take a walk along the Noland Trail or picnic at Lions Bridge, have you ever thought about the different plants and animals that call The Mariners’ Museum Park home? To date, we have discovered 523 different species live in the Park. This incredible number includes birds, insects, plants and trees, reptiles, and many more. Below are just a few highlights.

Trees   Read more

The White Oak Tree with a Hidden Past

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Image describing how to treat a tree from A Shade Tree Guide in 1918.
Image from A Shade Tree Guide by the New Jersey Department of Conservation and Development, 1918.

On the morning of August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene blew through Newport News with high winds and rain. The Mariners’ Museum Park fared quite well with only 40 trees down, compared to 3,000 downed trees from Hurricane Isabel in 2003. However, once the storm had passed and the damage assessed, we discovered that the oldest known tree in the Park was one of the 40. A 355-year-old white oak tree in Williams Field. To say that Park staff was devastated is an understatement!

Luckily, the story doesn’t stop there! Upon closer inspection, we discovered a hidden history beyond its impressive age! There was concrete running through a majority of the tree, stabilized with what appeared to be handmade nails. Who put it there? How long ago was it put in? WHY was it put in? It was obvious that it had been there for a while. And we assumed that an injury of some sort had occurred to the tree and it was “fixed” with concrete. But for years, that’s all we had.   Read more