VCNS 2016 Conference – Saturday – Canal Sites tour with Dr. Bill Trout

The VCNS conference continued on Saturday morning with a tour of canal sites led by Dr. Bill Trout. We started off in downtown Lynchburg at the bottom of 9th St. Bill showed a model of the area to point out the way the canal went under the archway  and the way the railroad tracks went etc.

We traveled to a couple more sites on the way to the BWXT site off Mt. Athos Road just up-river from the Joshua Falls boat landing. We were met by Mr. Christopher M. Dumond,  Communications Specialist, BWX Technologies, Inc. Chris spoke to our group about the history of BWXT.  Tom Moore won the prize for the trivia question which was a nice mug. Bill Trout showed the long double set of locks that led into the James River. Work needs to be done sometime in the future to clear the locks of trees/brush etc. Gail Timberlake suggested that we get together and have a cleanup of the site sometime. She also gave Christopher a set of  three of her children’s batteau books series.

We continued back up to a couple more sites along Mt. Athos Road and one more site beside US. 460 before departing for the morning. The JRBF Swiftwater safety class was going on at the same time as our tour. See Photos of safety class – click here.

The VCNS Annual Conference continued at the Depot Grill in Lynchburg where the annual business meeting was held.

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    VCNS 2016 Annual Conference off to great start at Batteau House!

    The 2016 annual conference for the Virginia Canals & Navigations Society kicked off on Friday April 22, 2016 at “Batteau House”, which is the new home for the VCNS.

    Dr. Bill Trout was showing off some of the many many artifacts, batteau and canal things on display all over the house.

    Gail Timberlake, VCNS President, made introductions before Holt Messerly presented a slideshow for the year in review. Before the main slideshow Holt showed a few shorter sections of photos as a preview. The slides of the Clifton Lee Batteau out of control were especially popular with the group! Who could resist wanting to watch Lisa B. hit a rock at 7-islands and see the look on her face!

    The food was great and everyone had a good time.

    Saturday, JRBF members will attend a safety class  by the river and some VCNS members are going on a road tour of some canal sites in Lynchburg, led by Dr Bill Trout.

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      Swiftwater Rescue Class to be held during the VC&NS Annual Conference Weekend, April, 23, 2016.

      On Saturday April 23, 2016 The James River Batteau Festival will be represented by Chairman Andrew Shaw. A Swiftwater Rescue Class will be held near Lynchburg, VA led by Andrew and others. Many Batteau groups will be attending for hands on safety training by/in the river. Be sure to get a wetsuit that fits or other appropriate cold-water personal protection and bring a pfd just in case. (Life Jacket).

      The class will be held at Lee’s Landing. This property is a beautiful section of river front on the Madison Heights side of Lynchburg, just below the Training Center. The Lee family has been most generous over the years allowing batteau crews to launch boats from the beach. Click here for directions to Lee’s Landing.

      VC&NS conference attendees can watch this event or go on a local tour of canal sites with Dr. Bill Trout. Bill and several others are putting together this alternate tour which is to start at Joshua Falls Boat Ramp and go up-river along Mt. Atho’s Road and then possible lunch at Moore’s Country Store and then back to Lynchburg.

      Also don’t forget the original plan for touring Lynchburg Museums and the Point of Honor. Many VC&NS conference attendees will be doing that during the day on Saturday.

      Saturday night will be the banquet dinner. See the VC&NS Conference application form for details. Please let’s all register for the VC&NS Conference even if you are just coming for the white water safety class. The class is free but helping the VC&NS is helping the JRBF too so please make plans to register.

      Directions  to Lee’s Landing is in pdf form – click here to download map.

      Let’s plan on good day.

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        Rivanna History Day – March 26th, 2016

        VC&NS Past President, Mr. Brian Coffield would like to invite everyone to come and see the wonderful exhibits for the Rivanna History Day at Pleasant Grove, in Fluvanna, County, Virginia.
        Click here to download full size flyer that you may print out copies of if you wish.


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          VCNS ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2016 – “Come home to Lynchburg” – April 22 – 24, 2016

          The Batteau "Margaret Steven's" launching in Lynchburg.

          The Batteau “Margaret Steven’s” launching in Lynchburg.

          240 years of Poling …. and still going strong!

          Our VC&NS President, Gail Timberlake, encourages all members to “Come home to Lynchburg” this year!

          Special Feature of this year’s conference is the Swift Water Safety Training on the James.

          Click here for Calendar of Events Posting with Dates and map.



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            Crossing the Dan – Saturday Feb. 13th Activities at the Prizery, South Boston, VA.

            Emmett Abernathy in the ferry boat built to cross the Dan River.

            Emmett Abernathy in the ferry boat built to cross the Dan River.

            The Crossing of the Dan festivities for the Saturday portion of the weeklong event:

            See page with slideshow and description of the event by Holt Messerly. Please note that photo prints are available for purchase online.

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              Crossing of the Dan

              crossing-of-the-dan. . . a turning point in the American Revolution

              See Calendar of Events posting for more information:

              Saturday, February 13, 9 a.m.

              Celebrate the 235th Anniversary of the Crossing of the Dan River

              Chastain Theatre, The Prizery, and at site of Boyd’s Ferry (Riverside Exhibit Area)


              Greetings and Presentation of Wreaths (Chastain Theatre, The Prizery)

                  Local officials, representatives of local and other chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution

              and Daughters of the American Revolution 

              Recognition of the 6th Grade Essay Contest Winner

              Speaker: Janet Uhlar

                 Author, lecturer and screenplay writer

              Topic: Freedom’s Cost: The Story of Nathaneal Greene

              (For more information about the speaker, click on the “Visit” section of the website.)

              Procession to the Crossing Site/Riverside Exhibit

                 Weather permitting, guests may walk to the actual Boyd’s Ferry Crossing site where a dramatic re-enactment of the Crossing of the Dan by British and Colonial troops will complete the day’s activities. A replica of a ferry boat will transport troops across the river as muskets and cannons fire.

              The permanent Crossing of the Dan exhibit, located on the 3rd-floor Banquet Hall of The Prizery, will

              be open before and after the Saturday program.

              For more information or for special needs, contact Anne Raab, Registrar, Berryman Green Chapter, NSDAR,

              P. O. Box 515, Halifax, VA 24558, (434) 470-1350, email or 

              Bernard Baker, SAR Chapter, . 

              For other information, visit:                                                       



              The Crossing of the Dan in Halifax County

              One of the most important events of the Revolutionary War

              (In September 2015 the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), elevated

              the “The Crossing of the Dan” to an Historical Event of National Prominence.

              See Calendar of Events posting for more information:

              After the Battle of Saratoga, Horatio Gates was appointed Commander of the Southern Army, but was quickly defeated at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina by the British army under Lieutenant General Lord Charles Cornwallis.

              To replace Gates, George Washington chose Nathanael Greene. When Greene arrived in Charlotte, NC, he found the remaining army in “wretched condition”, and realized he could not have a head-on battle with the British. He would split his army into two forces, use guerilla warfare tactics, attempt to draw the British away from their source of supplies, and wear them down.

              Half of Greene’s army under the command of Daniel Morgan fought Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, Commandant of the British Legion (nicknamed “the Green Dragoon”), at Cowpens, SC. Morgan then began a strategic retreat into North Carolina. British losses were staggering, with 90 percent of their number either killed, wounded, or captured. Learning of this loss, Lord Cornwallis swore to regain his prisoners “no matter what the cost”.

              Totally enraged by the loss at Cowpens, Cornwallis and Tarleton began to chase the American army and their hundreds of British prisoners. Greene and Morgan maneuvered north with the British army trailing close behind. Greene’s strategy was to avoid battle and draw the British further away from their supply lines. The Americans headed northeast into North Carolina. In an effort to move faster, Lord Cornwallis, obsessed with catching the Americans, burned most of his army’s supply wagons and destroyed all the soldier’s daily rations of brandy.

              General Greene stopped at Guilford Court House (Greensboro), N.C., to ask his officers whether it was best to end the retreat and confront the British there or to race on to the Dan. It was decided to go into Virginia to get additional recruits and supplies. In anticipation of the Dan River crossing, military engineer Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko was sent ahead to build earthworks (defenses), and Lt. Colonel Edward Carrington was dispatched to gather boats.

              Greene again split his army, sending 700 men away from his main army as a decoy towards the upper fords (shallow places in a body of water where one can cross by walking) of the Dan River upstream from Dix’s Ferry (Danville). Meanwhile, the slower moving main army, with artillery and supply wagons, took the shorter route and crossed the swollen river on February 14, 1781, with boats at Irvin’s Ferry (near Turbeville) and Boyd’s Ferry (South Boston). As the last Americans finished crossing the river, the first British troops arrived. Without boats they were unable to cross. Greene had won the race to the Dan River.

              Greene’s American army enjoyed a weeklong rest north of the Dan River at the Old Halifax Court House (Crystal Hill) as the commander plotted his next strategy. His troops reinforced and his provisions refreshed, Greene considered an attack against the British. With Cornwallis removed from his supply lines, and his men exhausted from their fruitless pursuit, the advantage was Greene’s. The weary British forces moved south to camp at Hillsborough, NC, while the reenergized Americans, eager for a fight, prepared to slip back across the Dan River.

              During the next month the British moved back towards Guilford Court House, while suffering many ambushes and skirmishes with the Americans. The two armies finally met at the Battle of Guilford Court House where 1,900 British clashed with 4,400 Americans. Lasting only two-and-a-half hours, the British lost 532 men, while the Americans only lost 264.

              Though Lord Cornwallis held the field at Guilford Court House, it was at great cost. From that battlefield, the British army maneuvered to Wilmington, North Carolina, to await fresh troops and supplies before turning north again into Virginia. The Americans returned to the Carolina interior where they fought to capture the British posts that remained.

              The British general’s stubborn fixation on the destruction of Major General Nathanael Greene’s Southern Field Army at any cost was a total failure. Lord Cornwallis and Banastre Tarleton were responsible for the loss of 1,513 of their troops in a three and a half month period – 48% of his army!

              Lord Charles Cornwallis would come to the rash decision in Wilmington to abandon the Carolinas and move into Virginia, seeking the decisive victory that would never come.

              Article provided by Dan Shaw, Halifax County Historical Society

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                Scottsville’s Old Canal Warehouse – Meeting to be held January 30th regarding restoration.

                Scottsville, VA - Old Canal Warehouse, ca. 1925-1930S

                Scottsville, VA – Old Canal Warehouse, ca. 1925-1930

                “The Building Tells Us What To Do,” January 30th, 2016

                Presented by the Scottsville Museum and the Town of Scottsville’s Architectural Review Board. Admission is free! We hope to see you there!

                What’s happening at the Canal Warehouse? Join us on Saturday, January 30th, at 2 p.m. when Walter Neighbors and his crew will put on a demonstration of the techniques and tools they are using to restore this historic building in Scottsville. The program will be held at the old Dollar Store on Valley Street in Scottsville. Entitled “The Building Tells Us What To Do,” the presentation will discuss the processes of finding and working with traditional tools and materials. The program is sponsored by the Scottsville Museum and the Town of Scottsville’s Architectural Review Board.

                Restoring an old building presents many challenges. The Neighbors Construction Company has had to rediscover old methods of constrution and build its own tools. Among the processes on view will be assembling the copper gutter trough, restoring windows, fabricating a metal cutter and cutting a section of exterior crown molding, and removing loose mortar and pointing the brick walls with a special formula. Tools originally used to perform these jobs will be on display.

                Walter Neighbors has spent his career working in historic restoration in Richmond and the Washington, DC area. Back home now in Buckingham County, he has taken on the daunting project of restoring the Canal Warehouse, originally constructed around 1844. After the demise of the canal in 1880, the warehouse was used for many other purposes, including as an antique store, residential apartments, and storage. Older residents remember fondly the Saturday dances once held in its spacious interior. Fires, floods, decay, and neglect have taken their toll, but the more he studies the building, the more admiration he has for its original design and construction, says Mr. Neighbors.

                What will happen to this warehouse when its restoration is finished? Neighbors says he has no idea, but it is simply doing the best job he can to bring it back to life. Come and see what’s going on. Admission is free, and all are welcome!

                For more information, please call Evelyn Edson at 434-286-3466.


                This article was originally published on the Scottsville Museum’s Website. The VC&NS  is re-posting this information for our members since this is such an important historical building regarding canal history!

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