Situated at a sharp bend in the lower James River, this peninsula with an island at its tip frames the maritime approach to Jamestown Island. Native Americans belonging to the Quiyoughcohannock Tribe lived along this southern shoreline area, and Chippokes Plantation State Park, west of the peninsula, is named after their leader. In 1607 Captain John Smith and his crew explored the James River and established America’s first English settlement just northwest of this peninsula and island. Allowing their hogs to forage freely on the island, which they called Hog Island, by 1608 the settlers had grown their swine stock from three to 60. They also constructed a blockhouse on Hog Island to monitor Jamestown’s riverine entrance.
The 3,908-acre Hog Island Wildlife Management Area includes the Hog Island Tract, a tidal marsh at the peninsula’s end; the Carlisle Tract, an area of forests and agricultural fields further inland on the peninsula’s east side; and the Stewart Tract, a small stretch of marshland east of the Carlisle Tract. The Surry Nuclear Power Plant, opened in 1972, sits in the middle of the three tracts. A canal bringing water from the James River to the plant cuts through the peninsula, while, south of the plant, two strips of upland forest have been cleared for power lines. Along all three tracts, marshlands border the shoreline with stands of aquatic grasses. On Hog Island, a dike system for holding and draining water cultivates native aquatic plants, creating a suitable habitat for waterfowl. On the Carlisle Tract, plantings of corn and other cover attract migratory birds. Roads, overlooks, and a boat ramp provide wildlife viewing opportunities. The vast remaining areas of the peninsula consist mostly of loblolly pine forests, completing the multi-storied views of the seventeenth-century shoreline.