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John Lederer


Explorer John Lederer, a German physician interested in trading with the Indians, was the first European to journey into the mountains of Virginia. Commissioned by Governor William Berkeley to find a way through the Appalachian barrier, Lederer made three expeditions in 1669-70. On the first and third expeditions, he reached the summit of the Blue Ridge and saw the Shenandoah Valley. However, discouraged by the sight of more mountain ranges to the west and his inability to locate a passage through, he turned back. His second journey proceeded southwesterly through Virginia and North Carolina, probably reaching the present South Carolina border, but also failed to locate a passage through the mountains.

Lederer’s discoveries helped open up trade with Indians. His map and journal, translated from Latin and published in London in 1672, have encouraged historians to provide varying interpretations of Lederer’s observations on the geography, fauna, and Indians of the region he explored.

Written by Harold Malcolm Forbes


  1. Lederer, John. The Discoveries of John Lederer. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1958.

  2. Carrier, Lyman. The Veracity of John Lederer. William & Mary Quarterly, (Oct., 1939).

  3. Cunz, Dieter. John Lederer, Significance and Evaluation. William & Mary Quarterly, (Apr. 1942).