Fort Monroe National Monument
Guide

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Introduction

Looking for a great place to spend the day on your next RV adventure in Virginia? Take a detour to stop by Fort Monroe National Monument. It's a wonderful spot to learn more about America's diverse history.

Fort Monroe National Monument finds it home in Hampton, Virginia, on the Virginia Peninsula. The property pays homage to the past and was a focal point for many different parts of American history including its original habitation by American Indians, the center of Captain John Smith's travels, the arrival of the first group of African slaves on American soil, and a refuge for freedom seekers in the Civil War. In later years, the fort also served as protection for the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1619, Fort Monroe National Monument became the first landing place for a small grouping of African slaves. They had been captured by a private British ship known as the White Lion from the Spanish vessel San Juan Bautista. The slaves endured brutal conditions along their journey. Though they were never intended to disembark in America, the slave traders aboard the White Lion found themselves in need of supplies and traded their "20 and odd" slaves for the rations they required to journey back to England. The slaves were intended to be put to work in the Caribbean or South America where the slave trade had long existed. This one act began 246 years of slavery in the United States.

These early slaves were extremely beneficial, bringing with them skills in many trades including farming, herding, blacksmithing, and artisanal works. Along with their talents, they also contributed to the American landscape through their language, beliefs, culture, and music. It is from these people the United States gained deeper insights into more efficient processes for food production and crop cultivation.

Today, the monument stands as a tribute to its past. Though the building is in good condition, preservation work is continuous at this site.

For an interesting trip down memory lane, be sure to stop by Fort Monroe National Monument. You will have a great time and are sure to learn a lot.

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RV Rentals in Fort Monroe National Monument

Transportation in Fort Monroe National Monument

Driving

To get to Fort Monroe National Monument from Richmond, VA, you will travel 80 miles in total. Begin the route by traveling on I-64 E. Continue onto S Mallory St in Hampton, taking exit 268. Follow along E Mellen Street to Ingalls Road, turning when you reach the sign for Ruckman Road. You will find the monument just ahead. The path to the monument progresses along highways of both two and four lanes. All roads are in good condition, and traffic moves fluidly. Road construction occurs on occasion.

Parking

Parking can be found in a lot outside the entrance to Fort Monroe National Monument.

Public Transport

There are shuttles available at several of the area campgrounds that transport passengers from their camping facilities to and from the monument several times daily.

Campgrounds and parking in Fort Monroe National Monument

Campsites in Fort Monroe National Monument

Reservations camping

Virginia Beach KOA Holiday

Virginia Beach KOA Holiday is a campground in Virginia Beach, VA, which offers RV and tent camping as well as cabin rentals by reservation only. Each of the RV sites is equipped with power, water, and free cable and Wifi. Generator use is permitted, and dogs are welcome on the premises but must remain leashed. Shuttle service is provided daily to Fort Monroe National Monument.

There are many amenities available at this camping facility including basketball courts, bike rentals, a dunk tank, electric bikes, and an arcade. The kids will also enjoy the two pools, zipline, a giant water slide, and playground.

There are also showers and toilets as well as a sewage disposal station.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Fort Monroe National Monument

Spring

Picnicking

Any day is a good day for a picnic at Fort Monroe National Monument. Peruse the grounds at your leisure then unpack your lunch on one of the picnic tables or feast from a picnic blanket on the ground. The views of the Chesapeake Bay are awe-inspiring and provide a peaceful backdrop for you to enjoy while you eat your lunch.

Bring along a packed lunch from home and some drinking water as well. A pet-friendly park, you may bring your dog with you on your picnic, but please keep them leashed.

Summer

Day of Healing: Nationwide Bell Ringing Ceremony

August 25th is a day set aside at Fort Monroe National Monument specifically for healing as symbolized by a nationwide ringing of bells. The park has issued an invitation to all 419 national parks to join them in a four minute simultaneous ringing of bells, with each ring representing a century. This act is intended to pay homage to the first Africans who were enslaved on American soil at Point Comfort in 1619. An event to first occur at Fort Monroe National Monument in 2019, it will honor 400 years of African American history with plans for the commemoration ceremony to continue annually.

For those who cannot attend the ceremony, there is still much to learn about the history of the Africans who were sold as slaves at Point Comfort via the living history demonstrations, visitor's center, and buildings on the premises which can be visited year-round.

Commemoration of First African Landing

From the 22nd to the 25th of August, Fort Monroe National Monument celebrates the first African landing. The event spans several days and pays tribute to the first grouping of "20 and odd" slaves who became the first Africans to be sold into the trade on American soil in 1619, thus beginning a practice which would continue for 246 years in the country.

There are several different events families can participate in. These include a tribute ceremony, a glimpse into the newly built Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center, a day dedicated specifically for healing, Black Cultural tours, demonstrations of living history, storytelling, and several different musical performances.

Though this particular set of events is exclusive to these dates, the Visitor and Education Center is open year round, and storytelling and living history demonstrations can be enjoyed daily. Check the fort's website to find out scheduled performance times.

Fall

Photography

Fort Monroe National Monument is an impressive building to behold and is worthy of photo opportunities. Take a few family photos on the steps of the old military battlement or pose against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean or crisp, clear waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

The grounds are kept in immaculate condition, providing ample occasion for snapshots of the unique features of the property.

Walking

Fort Monroe National Monument is a picturesque place to enjoy a leisurely walk. With views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, you will enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and relaxing smell of the rich salt air as you wander the grounds.

Bring along a comfortable pair of shoes, some drinking water, and a snack to enjoy. Fido may tag along on your walk, but please remember to keep him leashed at all times and to properly dispose of his waste.

Winter

Casemate Museum

Found within Fort Monroe National Monument is Casemate Museum which is open year-round for families to enjoy. The museum details the rich military history of the fort beginning with the building of Fort Algernourne which was the original defense structure on the premises in 1609. Families can also learn more about the final command post headquartered here known as the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

Several famous prisoners were housed here during the Civil War including Jefferson Davis. There is also a section which pays tribute to the "Contraband of War" act which granted freedom to many enslaved men, beginning first with three in 1861 and leading to many more.

Guided tours are available daily. Check the fort's website for scheduled tour days and times.

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