Bill Trout’s Projects Page

This is a special page for Bill Trout to work with. Have fun Bill.

Students and others who would like to take on a small or large canal preservation or research project might find something here. There’s enough to keep us all busy for a century or two. We’ve tried to list the major sites needing work. It’s not complete, but it might help to inspire folks to take on a problem which never has been worked on or even thought of before.
For more details peruse our river atlases and contact or canal archaeologist Lyle Browning, Some of these sites have a history of preservation efforts to build upon, so get in touch with us.


Projects which need work soon:
Check the stone locks on Goose Creek to see which need tree clearing and stabilization.
Check the locks on the Rappahannock ditto.
Study the unique “narrow boat” on the Rivanna before it washes away.
Study the Echols-Walker boat on the Maury River ditto.
Find a cover or home for the “Maymont Boat,” the hull of a 15 by 80 foot Kanawha Canal freight boat in Richmond which has been treated but which has no cover.
Develop a stabilization plan for Rappahannock lock 9 below the mouth of the Rapidan.
Help Richmond preserve and make the best use of her canals in the city, especially the canal around Oregon Hill, at the Byrd Park Pump House, and at the Great Ship Lock..

Projects to work on:
Measure the unique double lock on Goose Creek and consider how to stabilize the walls, and possibly repair them.
Develop a landscaping and interpretation plan for the lock at Embrey Dam in Fredericksburg.
Map the lock and canal at the mouth of Tye River at Norwood, opposite James River State Park, to make sense of the remains.
Monitor the state of the culverts and aqueducts along the CSX James River Line, and let CSX know when any need repair or tree clearing before they collapse.
Work with the James River Batteau Festival (and the VC&NS).
Work with VC&NS to find more sunken boats on the Rivanna, the Maury, and elsewhere.
Help Fluvanna County to find a permanent home for the preserved remains of a batteau and a lock gate found in the county.
Help Rockbridge County to find a home for the boats recovered from the Maury and now stored in a barn. At Paxton House?
Search for more flash locks on the Slate and Willis’s rivers. See Pete Runge.
Help Buchanan develop a canal park at her gauge lock, and a canal museum on her waterfront.
Continue to study and map the amazing batteau sluices between Long Island and Brookneal on the Staunton River.
Help Salem to interpret her batteau landing on the Roanoke River near Roanoke.
Keep an eye on the Gilmerton Lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal. It is not accessible now, in a dangerous industrial area, bur someday the site use might change, and we should be ready.

Parks to work with:
Help Great Falls Park, VA, to put a batteau replica on permanent display. They may still have one in storage.
Work with James River Park in Richmond, and with those preserving and restoring the Byrd Park Pump House.
Develop a plan to properly use the canal at Dead Man’s Hill (Lock Hill) in Richmond.
Help West View on the James interpret and clear a trail along the Kanawha Canal through its property.
Work with Canal Basin Square in Scottsville.
Help Lynchburg develop its canal park, from Blackwater Creek Aqueduct to the canal bed below the 9th St. bridge, at Amazement Square.
Encourage the Monticello Foundation to study Jefferson’s Mill, locks, and canal.
Help Petersburg to develop its boat basin, canals, turning basin, and Toll Locks site, as valuable parks, and to keep the Toll Locks and aqueduct from further damage..
Work with Danville to develop and interpret her canal park and riverfront.
Study and map the falls on the Roanoke River below the Blue Ridge Parkway, at Explore Park. Where did the batteaux go?
Work with VC&NS to study and interpret canal sites in the Dismal Swamp, including the Toll House at Wallaceton, and the Cross Canal.

Archaeological projects (not underwater):
All over Virginia are canals, locks, culverts, lockhouse sites, and other canal structures which we know little about. Mapping a site or studying its history would be a great contribution to our knowledge. Don’t disturb or dig into a site without guidance from a good archaeologist!

There are some sites crying out for a professional archaeological study. Some are:
Study archaeologically the wood crib double lock on the Tuckahoe Creek Navigation near Richmond.
Search for the foundations of the wooden lock at Dead Man’s Hill – used by George Washington in 1791.
Study archaeologically the Lexington Docks on the Maury.
Study archaeologically the Toll Locks and aqueduct near Petersburg, and develop a preservation and park plan.
Professionally excavate the Upper Appomattox Canal’s Turning Basin. A major canal site.
Try to locate the old locks in Danville.
Study the boat landings at Randolph in Staunton River Battlefield State Park – at the RR station on Roanoke Creek, and at the steamboat landing in the river
Study the locks on the Northwest Canal in the Great Dismal Swamp.


Carry out a professional study of the flight of wooden locks to the river in Weldon.
Help Weldon to develop a canal exhibit and to make the Corn Mill restoration a success..
Work with the Roanoke Canal Museum to maintain its hiking trail along the canal.
Study and map the canal on the Yadkin at Pilot Mountain State Park, and help with the interpretation.
Study and map the canal on the Yadkin/ Pee Dee near the SC state line.
Study the lock sites on Deep River and the Cape Fear.
Help study and interpret the Buckhorn Canal on the Cape Fear, and encourage Progress Energy to preserve the area as a park and not destroy more of it.
Help Raven Rock State park to interpret its riverfront and to create a simple overlook for Northington’s Lock and Dam.


Search impounded waters downstream of once-navigable river sections, for boats washed there. Suggestions:
Shenandoah River (VA):
* Lakes below town of Shenandoah (gundalows)
Potomac River (MD)
* All ponds, look for batteaux, gundalows, canal boats
James River (VA):
* James River Gorge, Glasgow to Lynchburg (batteaux, canal boats)
* Bosher’s Dam pond, Richmond (batteaux, canal boats)
Appomattox River (VA):
* Abutment Dam pond, Matoaca (batteaux) (dam construction work boats found at dam)
* Brasfield Dam (batteaux)
Roanoke River (VA, NC):
* Smith Mountain Lake (batteaux)
* Lakes between Dan River and Roanoke Rapids.(batteaux, steamboats)
Dan River (NC):
* At Danville (batteaux)
New River (VA, WV):
* Above Radford (batteaux)
* Above Hinton (batteaux)
Holston, Clinch and Powell’s rivers, below the VA line in TN
* Flatboats, rafts
French Broad (TN)
* Fort Loudoun Lake (batteaux, possible steamboats)
Yadkin River (NC):
Lake below Salisbury (steamboat and Corps work boats)
Haw River (NC):
* Lake below Swepsonville (Swepson batteau)
Deep River (NC):
* Buckhorn Dam lake (batteaux, steamboats)
Cape Fear River (NC):
* Below Fayetteville (NC) (batteaux)
Wateree River (SC):
* Below the NC/SC line (batteaux)

Search tidewater rivers below navigable whitewater for boats washed there (and for tide water craft):
* Lower Rappahannock below Fredericksburg (VA)
* Lower James below Richmond (VA). Especially where canal boats were sunk off Mulberry Point during the Civil War.
* Lower Appomattox, below Petersburg (VA)
* Lower Roanoke, below Weldon (NC)
* Chowan River, in NC below the Blackwater, Nottoway and Meherrin
* Lower Cape Fear (NC)

Other searches:
Probe for gundalows in the Shenandoah Canal at Harper’s Ferry

Look at boat sites already known:
Goose Creek Test Boat (VA) Perfectly preserved underwater.
Rivanna River (VA):
* The “Narrow boat” – a canal boat with dimensions of a batteau
* Batteau near Monticello
Maury River (VA):
* Echols- Walker boat near the James. Probably part of a canal boat. See Philip de Vos.
James River (VA):
* Perch (?) ferry boat, in the bank at the mouth of Buck Branch upstream of Red & Dot’s.
* Parts of 1853-1856 wooden dump cart U/W at mouth of Marshall canal-tunnel, abandoned while under construction.
Appomattox River (VA)
* Batteau at Stony Point Mills Dam.
Deep River (NC):
* Something (dock? boat?) at Endor Furnace


* The Shenandoah River Gundalow (WV):
Discover the construction details of Shenandoah River Gundalows. Probe for gundalows in the Shenandoah Canal at Harper’s Ferry (see Dave Gilbert). Measure the fragment of a James River Gundalow (?) found in Richmond, in storage at HF. Study the wood from gundalows in the HF Masonic Hall. Make an inventory of gundalow wood in buildings in HF/ Bolivar to determine how the wood was used, and to learn more about gundalow construction details. Work with Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to develop a permanent exhibit on gundalows, and to build a full-size replica to display. Possibly: Examine a boatyard near Port Republic where gundalows were built. More buildings using gundalow wood may be in Georgetown (Washington DC).
* The Goose Creek Navigation Test Boat (VA):
Measure the Goose Creek Test Boat and determine nature of sweep fitting, etc. This is almost entirely buried under a bank and seems to be an open rectangular barge. It was the only boat which ever used the Goose Creek Navigation. Measure the dimensions of the stone locks on Goose Creek to compare with the dimensions of the boat. Make an inventory of the locks on Goose Creek with recommendations for their stabilization and preservation. Two locks are preserved underwater, might be studied by side scan sonar or diving if not covered by silt.
* The unfinished Marshall canal-tunnel (VA):
Examine the Marshall canal-tunnel near Buchanan, abandoned in 1856 in the midst of construction. One end has standing water which has preserved two wooden dump carts, scaffolding, and tools. The bed of one cart has been treated and is in storage with the Archeological Society of Virginia at Kittiewan. Map the tunnel and its workings and headings. Possibly dig out the central shaft where probably much machinery etc. has been preserved, probably underwater. This tunnel is an example of tunneling and canal technology before the steam drill, and being unfinished, shows the method of construction including spoil piles (one pile has been found which probably represents one dump cart load). Help Buchanan design an exhibit on the tunnel and the canal.
* Thomas Jefferson’s (?) Batteau (VA):
This batteau near Monticello seems to be well preserved in the river bank. It was partially examined by Lyle Browning some years ago, before a local stopped the excavation. This might not be Jefferson’s batteau, but it is near Monticello. Perhaps the wood can be dated.
* The Rivanna’s unique “Narrow Boat” (VA):
This boat has high sides and a rudder, and is the same length and width as a batteau. It was evidently built to carry freight through the locks in the Albemarle County part of the Rivanna Navigation, which was made for batteaux. In England, freight boats of this size are known as Narrow Boats. No records have been found about these boats on the Rivanna, so excavation should tell us more about them. In addition to the relatively well preserved narrow boat, there is a fragment of another one nearby.
* The Slate and Willis’s Rivers Flash Lock VA):
Remains of these locks are preserved in the water on the Slate and Willis’s rivers in Cumberland and Buckingham County. They are wooden crib structures with a single falling gate like a tail gate, which was dropped to release a flood of water for batteau navigation. We have called them flash locks. One of the gates has been found. By studying several of these structures, much could be learned about their construction and use. So far we have not come across structures like these anywhere else. No one knows who built them and where the idea came from. They need to be compared with others around the world.
* Batteaux and other artifacts from Richmond’s Great Basin (VA):
Several tons of boat wood, from disassembled batteaux and canal boats, are stored underwater in Richmond’s Byrd Park Pump House. This wood needs to be treated with a preservative so the boats, primarily the ends of batteaux, can be re-assembled, studied and displayed. A great deal of leather – shoes, leather with shoe material cut out, a large bale of leather, and wooden tools and other objects have also been stored underwater. Processing and studying these artifacts will be a major project.
* Side-Scan (?) survey of upland lakes (see above):
Selected lakes could be explored to determine if they hold any upland river boats such as batteaux, which could have washed downriver and are now preserved underwater. Most of the boats which we see on a river are incomplete, sticking out of a bank where they are gradually being destroyed by erosion. Such boats, after study, would have to be left to the river, or buried or moved to prevent their destruction. But boats completely underwater should be in better condition and can be studied and left in place, so it’s worth searching for a few good boats using modern methods.


TROUT PROJECTS as of November 2012. These are joint projects or those to pursue (contact these people if any projects aren’t finished):

With John Hairr,,
Establish Carolina River Heritage Society to publish NC river atlases:
* The Cape Fear River Atlas (finished)
* The French Broad River Atlas (finished)
* The Yadkin River Atlas (in progress 2012)
* Proposed future NC Atlases, not started: Catawba, Tar, Neuse, North Carolina’s Coastal Canals

With Homer Rudolf,
His book on The James River Canal Freighter Sarah Jane, an operetta performed in Lynchburg.
Separately? Reprint with commentary, the original opera score (finished).

With Ben Bova (probably not, haven’t heard back):
Work up The Martian Canal Reader (martian canal stories)

With Dan Kegley:, and Randy Bordwine
Finish The Holston, Clinch & Powell’s Rivers Atlas (ready for final paste-up)

With Stran Trout,
Finish The Chickahominy River Atlas (in progress)

With Karen Gray and Dan Guzy:,
Finish The Potomac River Atlas (started)
possibly The Branches of the Potomac

With Bill Hoffman: 252-482-7599 (Edenton NC)
Publish his book on The Dismal Swamp Nobody Knows (almost finished)

Encouraging Larry Hart:
Who plans to create a trail along the Deep Cut at Kelly’s Ford on the Rappahannock

With Lyle Browning:
Archaeological report and analysis of the Great Basin Dig
Treating several tons of boat wood now underwater in the Byrd Park Pump House, from the Great Basin (a big project)

Possible projects for others:
* A Virginia Canal Reader
* A Virginia Canal Coloring Book
* The Batteauman’s Joke Book
* Nancy Trout’s book on Old Ferndale Park (with FOLAR?)

Atlases for others to do on WV rivers someday:
* Guyandotte, Coal River, Great Kanawha, Little Kanawha, Monongahela & West Fork Navigation
(See the American Canal Guide for brief accounts and maps. Online on

Possible Trout collections someday:
* The Apocryphal Adventures of Frank Padget, Batteauman: A Romp Through Virginia’s Batteau and Canal Eras (Have provisional text, will need an artist to do illustrations)
* I am a Canal Maniac (Articles taken from The Tiller and elsewhere) (Title from Canal maniac T-shirt)
* A Canal-Wallah in India and other Adventures (articles taken from American Canals and elsewhere)

To keep updating:
THE AMERICAN CANAL SOCIETY’S TABLE OF AMERICAN MASON’S MARKS. Posted on These are the stonemasons’ personal marks, as found on canal, railroad and other structures in America. Organized Chinese fashion, by the number of strokes, for future researchers, who we hope will make use of them. Please send enquiries and new discoveries to

Objectives for VC&NS:
* To encourage the wise use of Virginia’s historic canal and river navigation resources.
* To re-discover these historic sites and their history.
* To use history combined with nature to generate parks, open space, greenways, blueways, and scenic rivers.
* To partner with river and historical organizations to see to the preservation of these resources through scenic and historic easements, National Register nominations, and stewardship.
* To bring attention to these resources through publications and activities.

Every river needs an Atlas. The series is nearly complete for Virginia. Needs Holston, Clinch & Powell’s Rivers Atlas (needs final paste-up); Chickahominy, Potomac, possibly Mattaponi & Pamunkey.
* Needed: A coffee-table book focusing on locks, canals, sluices for each river (Done for Rivanna)
* Virginia needs A Gee-Whiz Virginia Canals book (Need catchy title) Viginia’s Lost World of Whitewater Highways?


October 23, 2012