Day 7: July 5, 2017
To the Turret

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I returned to Colonial Williamsburg one more time to do a couple things that the big Independence Day crowd had caused me to skip over yesterday. The capitol would again be my first stop. Yesterday's photos included a fellow putting out a flag in front of the armory. This morning he was sitting across the street playing a whistle. When I complimented him on his playing, he thanked me and wished me "good day". They do that a lot here.

Today there was no crowd at all at the capitol and I took the tour. The building is a reconstruction but it is supposedly quite accurate and located properly. There are a few original items inside such as the governor's chair in the second photo.

The stage where I'd seen Lafayette yesterday is close to the capitol and the time was right to catch another performance. Titled "Change is Coming", it had colonists Gowan Pamphlet and George Mason discussing and sometimes arguing about their rapidly changing world. While they weren't quite as entertaining as Lafayette had been, they were good and answered questions with the same in-depth and in-character manner as he had.

I didn't actually check but I'm guessing that there were no "SOLD OUT" signs posted for carriage rides today. The driver's training shown in the third picture certainly would not have been possible yesterday.

Peyton Randolph played a major role in events leading to the revolution including chairing the first two sessions of the Continental Congress. He died in 1775 just ahead of the revolution so his name is not well known today. I think I'd have enjoyed touring his home but it's not currently open.

I actually stood in line at the Governor's Palace for several minutes yesterday before coming to my senses. Today there was only a brief wait for the next tour and that was inside an air conditioned room. Lord Dunmore, the last Royal Governor of Virginia, had a rather rough time of it. Toward the end of his troubled days in power, he lined the palace walls with guns and swords in a display of force. I thought the number of weapons on display might be excessive and asked. No, I was told. The numbers came from a written inventory from the day.

The Capitol contains portraits of Queen Charlotte and King George III that look identical to these. The guide there said those were reproductions and that the Governor's Palace had the originals. The palace guide said nothing about them. A little online research indicates that "originals" isn't quite the right description. The true originals were done by Allan Ramsay around 1761. As many as 200 replicas were produced by talented assistants in Ramsey's studios. The Palace contains a pair of these replicas. I assume those in the Capitol are modern, possibly mechanical, reproductions. The heating mechanism in the last picture is a pre-Franklin stove.

At some point during our travels around Richmond on Monday, Wes mentioned the the parts of the USS Monitor could be seen in Newport News. That sounded pretty interesting so I looked into it and made Newport News my next destination after Williamsburg. The ironclad USS Monitor fought the ironclad CSS Virginia to a draw in March of 1862 then sank in a storm on December 31. When Norfolk fell to Union forces in May, the Virginia was destroyed to keep her out of enemy hands. The Monitor's location was discovered in 1973 and some parts have been recovered. The Monitor exhibits are part of The Mariners' Museum and Park but they are a big enough deal to have their own identity, the USS Monitor Center.

There are plenty of explanatory panels and models on the ship's construction and wartime history. There is a full size mockup of the turret encrusted by more than a century under the water. You can stand on or under a full size replica of the entire ship that sits outside.

Inside, a few recovered parts are displayed in their proper positions in a full size skeleton that parallels the mockup outside. An anchor sits at the bow and the propeller at the stern. In between are copper pipes that must have once carried steam or water. Note the replica turret in its proper place beyond the propeller. I'm guessing the the real turret may go there when it's ready. That's it, submerged in water, in the last photo. The goal is to remove all the salt from the cast iron before placing it in the open air. I won't pretend to understand the process but you can read about it here and even was some of it on webcams here.

Of course there's a lot more the museum than the Monitor but it is the reason I came and the subject that consumed most of my time and attention. I apologize to all the other wonderful displays that must feel slighted but the whole Monitor thing was new to me and I found it fascinating.

I did not find the display that awaited me in the parking lot fascinating in the least. First I get backed into while waiting at a light then I get rear ended doing the same and now I get sideswiped in a parking lot. I'm having a great trip but it's kind of rough on my car.

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