John Smith Chesapeake Trail Cross Markers

“…The situation of the rivers are so propitous to the nature and use of man as no place is more convenient for pleasure, profit and man’s sustanence.”

– Captain John Smith, A Map of Virginia, 1612


Captain John Smith’s 1612 map, Virginia Discoverd & Discribed, even to the casual eye presents our earliest picture of the Chesapeake Bay with uncanny accuracy. But something else emerges. There are 27 “Maltese” crosses scattered over it right to left, top to bottom. Smith tells us in his map key: “Signification of these markes,/To the crosses hath bin discoverd/ what beyond is by relation.” His journal tells us the “markes” represent actual crosses left in those places during is exploration, either of brass or a shape carved in tree bark. Captain John Smith historian Ed Haile, with former Conservancy Chairman Charlie Stek, put together a plan to restore the cross sites with stone markers right where Smith left the originals. Three were eliminated as mapped outside of Smith’s actual area of exploration, and not on the Bay, leaving a total of 24 in the marker project. Through the help of Ed and fellow project volunteer, Connie Lapallo, the Conservancy is working to mark each spot for modern day adventurers to visit using small stone markers.  These will function to make the Trail more real for people and to enhance geo-caching adventures.






Proposed locations: 24 




Moncuin Creek

Mattaponi River

Pamunkey River

Dragon Run

Nansemond River

Mockhorn Island


Aquia Creek




Upper Chippokes Creek

Colonial Heights

Grays Creek 


Pocomoke City


Great Falls


North East

Sassafras River

Bush River 


Nanticoke River


(Red Crosses show where markers have been successfully placed) 


Project Photos


Haxall Headgate Park, Richmond, VA (Photos: Connie Lapallo)



Fall Hill, Fredericksburg, VA (Photos: Erik Nelson)



Zoar State Forest, King William County, Aylett, VA (Photos: Connie Lapallo)



Nansemond River, VA (Photos: Connie Lapallo)



Colonial Heights, VA (Photos: Matt Spruill)



Dragon Run, King & Queen, VA (Photos: Connie Lapallo)


Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont, Falmouth, VA (Photo: Beate Ankjær-Jensen)



Moncuin Creek, King William, VA (Photos: Connie Lapallo, Sarah Lapallo Beck, and Kerry Lapallo)


Volunteer Historians


Ed Haile is a historian and poet, author of Jamestown Narratives and John Smith in the Chesapeake, and two historic Bay maps. He is our source for the Trail route and John Smith’s dates and itinerary. For some years now Ed has been doing his research on marker placements.





Connie Lapallo
 is the author of Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky (1592-1611) and When the Moon Has No More Silver (1610-1620). The Sun is But a Morning Star (1621-1652) will be released soon. All are based on the true story of Jamestown’s first women and children. Connie has told the Jamestown story to hundreds of audiences across the country.