Evidently Lederer's discoveries were not honored by the English in Tidewater Virginia. His translator noted that Governor William Berkeley had authorized Lederer's travels, but that "our Traveller at his return, instead of Welcome and Applause, met nothing but Affronts and Reproaches..." 1 Lederer's traveling companion on his second trip, Major Harris, returned early while Lederer himself continued further west. Harris apparently disparaged the German, in order to increase his own reputation as an adventurer in Virginia... and probably assuming that Lederer would never return alive to contradict him.
The translator, William Talbot, attributed this rejection to jealousy and embarrassment that a non-Englishman had been brave enough to explore the unknown. In addition to personal jealousy, the Tidewater landowners recognized that increasing the supply of tobacco-growing land west of the Fall Line would inevitably attract settlers. This would make it harder to obtain the labor needed for growing tobacco on existing lands in Tidewater, so the enthusiasm for western exploration may have been limited by the recognition that western settlement would create competition.
We can try to follow Lederer's route using his place names and trip description, but it's difficult to match up his journal exactly with our modern maps. He started at an Indian town named Shickehamany, apparently on the north bank - though if you pronounce the word rather than emphasize the spelling, it could be "Chickahominy" on the north bank of that river. That tribe was located south of the Pamunkey River. In addition, on a modern map it's not immediately clear what falls are downstream from the current site of Ashland, and could thus be Pemaeoncock Falls.
Lederer ran into marshy ground between the Pemaeoncock (Pamunkey) and Matapeneugh (Mataponi) rivers, so he crossed to the south bank of the Pamunkey "where its North and South-branch (called Ackmick) joyn in one." 2
Lederer may have identified the junction of the two branches forming the Pamunkey at a location further downstream than our modern definition. He said one stream in the peninsula formed by the two branches was named after Tottopottoma, who had died in battle while assisting the English settlers. (The battle was in 1653 at Bloody Run on Church Hill in Richmond, when the Algonquian-speaking Powhatans had allied with the English to prevent "western" Indians from starting at settlement at the falls of the James.) Modern Tottopottomy Creek joins with the Pamunkey River just west of where modern-day US Route 360 crosses the river in Hanover County, a dozen miles away from the modern junction of the North and South Anna.
Lederer's reference to marshy ground forcing him to detour is another piece of evidence that the initial definition of the two branches was downstream from the current definition of the start of the Pamunkey River. The current junction of the North and South Anna is not mapped as "marshy," but downstream of Moncuin Creek the Pamunkey is lined with marshes. However, a close look at the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer or the USGS quad maps show that the bottomlands upstream (almost to Route 1) have been cleared for farming purposes. Odds are, these were once marshes, and were far harder to navigate by Lederer about 330 years ago...
Lederer's first recorded journey started on March 9, 1669. Four days later, he reached the "first Spring" (headwaters) of the Pamunkey River, and on the March 14th "from the top of an eminent hill, I first descried the Apalatean Mountains, bearing due West to the place I stood upon: their distance from me was so great, that I could hardly discern whether they were Mountains or Clouds..."3 (The modern traveler driving west on Route 17 from Fredericksburg may have a similar experience near Morrisville, and looking west from Mountain View on Route 627 in Stafford County can be equally deceiving.)
Assuming that the water level was low in March, before the spring runoff (Lederer reports snow on the mountains rather than flowering plants...), he may have been at approximately the location of modern Lake Anna. He reports that he crossed the "South-branch" of the Rappahannock River, presumably what we now call the Rapidan, and reached the mountains on March 17 after traveling for 8 days.
On the 18th, Lederer climbed the mountain, leaving his one remaining Indian guide at the bottom with the horse used to carry supplies - after failing in his effort to ride to the top. He claimed to be able to see the Atlantic Ocean to the east, but more than likely he saw just low clouds on the horizon. His report of higher mountains to the north and west is more credible, and indicates he may have climbed the Southwest Mountains stretching from Charlottesville to Orange.
After two weeks of travel, from May 20-June 3, they reached the "south branch" of the James River. He may have defined the "north branch" to have been where the Rivanna joins the James at modern-day Columbia (the junction of Fluvanna, Goochland, and Cumberland counties) or where the Rockfish River joins at Howardsville (the junction of Albemarle, Nelson, and Buckingham counties). Lederer reports that Major Harris had become excited at seeing the south branch veer to the north, and the nearby hills were impassably steep but the river was still as broad as at Manakin 4. Based on those clues, by June 3, 1670, they may have passed upstream of the major shift in the James River's direction near modern-day Lynchburg, but not reached the Big Island or the actual passage of the James River through the Blue Ridge.
Lederer was happy to part from Major Harris and the retinue of Indians there, continuing on with just one guide. He thought he was 100 miles from Manakin when he reached the Nahyssan town of "Sapon" on the Roanoke River on June 9th. He recognized the tribe as having been at war with the "Christians" for the last decade, but successfully bargained glass and metal for hospitality. He exchanged information with them, describing his travels and learning [Lederer must have been a good diplomat; he was invited to marry into the tribe.]
Lederer indicated he continued to travel south and southwest along the east slope of the mountains, visiting different towns and trying to discover what lay on the other side to the west of the mountains. He started back home on June 28, after five weeks of exploration. It took him two weeks to reach the capital of the Tuscaroras at "Katearas." Finding them a threatening tribe, he quickly moved, crossing the "Rorenoke," "Menchoerinck" (Meherrin), and "Natoway" rivers before reaching "Apamatuck" (modern Petersburg) on July 18th after a journey of two months.
[A year later, Batts and Fallam started their journey across the Blue Ridge to the New River from Fort Wood, which was established at the falls of the Appomattox River.]
They left from Robert Talliaferro's home on August 20, 1670. (Lederer spelled it "Talifer,"5 reflecting the pronunciation of the family name.) It took a day for Lederer, Col. Catlet, and five Indians to reach the falls, and another day to reach the junction of the north branch (Rappahannock River) and south branch (Rapidan River). By August 26 they had reached the mountains and were no longer able to ride horses. That day they climbed to the top and "drank the Kings Health in Brandy." 6
Lederer, Catlet, and their Native American companions started back home the next day, in part because Lederer had been stung by a spider and his arm had become inflamed.
He guessed that the North American mountains would be similar to the Andes in South America, with long rivers stretching to the eastward but short streams falling quickly into the ocean on the west side. With surprising (but incorrect) insight, he thought the migration of the waterfowl from across the mountains to the rivers running into the Atlantic Ocean indicated that there were no equivalent rivers on the western slope.