The Mariners’ Museum and Park will celebrate the creation of a formal park department with a guided tour. “A History of the Park and Trees Guided Tour” will begin March 20, and will continue throughout the spring. The new department is made up of a team that has a combined 30-plus years of experience at the Mariners’.
The guided park tours will feature an in-depth narrative of trees and plants, including an overview history of the scenic Park. The trek is approximately 1/4 mile on both flat ground and slight hills and elevations, which starts at the Museum’s Business Entrance, follows Meadow Path to the Noland Trail, and then loops back to the Museum.
The 90-minute tour will be socially-distanced along the route where possible, and offers the opportunity for participants to learn about the many new and exciting park initiatives including the Hampton Roads City Nature Challenge set for April 30 through May 3. The City Nature Challenge is an international bioblitz competition to record as many species (flora and fauna) in your community over a four-day period. The Mariners’ teamed up with other Hampton Roads environmental institutions to make this a seven-cities wide event.
With the Museum galleries closed this past year due to the pandemic, the park and trail have been a highly sought-after destination for tranquility and reflection.
“We take serving our community very seriously, and providing free and open public access to our park and the Noland Trail are one of the most important ways in which we serve,” said President and CEO Howard H. Hoege III.
Erica Deale will lead the department. She has been serving as the park stewardship coordinator at The Mariners’ Museum since 2017. She will continue developing and maintaining new and existing external partnerships, along with seeking grants for Park initiatives and endeavors in support of the Museum’s mission. She is joined by Dave Kennedy, who is the park operations manager and longest tenured member in the department, along with expert field technicians Josh Bailey and Graham King.
“With all of us together in one department, we will be able to advance the Park for the good of the community and for all that call the Park home,” Deale said.
“We have already accomplished a large-scale forest restoration project, and are also focused on resurfacing the Noland Trail,” she added.
The Mariners’ Museum and Park evolved through a shared vision between Archer Milton Huntington, son of Collis P. Huntington who founded Newport News Shipbuilding, and Homer L. Ferguson, head of Newport News Shipbuilding in 1930. At that time, Huntington and his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, used 800 acres of land surrounding Waters Creek in Newport News, Va., to create and improve a natural park and construct a dam, known as Lions Bridge, to develop The Mariners’ Lake.
The 550-acre park is now home to the 167-acre Mariners’ Lake and the Noland Trail – a five-mile shoreline trail with 14 wooden bridges.
Registration for March and April Park tours are open to the public. For more information about our guided Park tours, visit MarinersMuseum.org/Guided-Park-Tours.