The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

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Scottsville, VA

History:

Founded in 1744, Scottsville is a historic town located on the Horseshoe Bend of the scenic James River in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The town served as Virginia's westernmost center of government and commerce during the 1700s, when rivers were the primary means of travel in the new American wilderness.

During the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century attempts were made to improve navigability along the James, as well as other central Virginian rivers. Part of this was the construction of a canal running roughly parallel with the James west from Richmond. Scottsville was the largest port town along this route, called the James River and Kanawha Canal. The ultimate goal of this project was to connect the Atlantic with the Ohio River via the Kanawha River. These aims were not achieved, due to interruption by the American Civil War and the rise of the train. It did however succeed in making Scottsville a busy, prominent town.

Thanks to a wagon road connecting Staunton to Scottsville, all of the agricultural wealth of the Shenandoah Valley poured into town en route to Richmond and the sea, thereby making Scottsville the largest grain market in the state. Trade died down when Union soldiers broke the canal works in the area. Then the train came, the tracks being laid directly on the towpath of the old canal, a monument to its demise. Eventually, the train too stopped taking passengers, leaving Scottsville a sleepy country town on a coal line.

Located near Scottsville, the Hatton Ferry serves as a seasonal crossing of the James River and has been the location of a ferry since the late 1870s.

Directions to:
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Local Tourism Resources:

  • Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors Center
    610 E. Main St.
    Charlottesville, VA 22902
    434-293-6789 or 877-386-1103
    Hours: Daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm http://www.visitcharlottesville.org
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