Big Island in Bedford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The James River flows from the mountains through Lynchburg and Richmond to the coast. It is the largest river in Virginia and, historically, one of the state’s most important transportation corridors.
Before the Civil War, investors built a canal from Richmond to Buchanan, about 20 miles southwest of here. This canal, the Kanawha, made river transportation safer and more reliable. Tow barges and packet boats, laden with flour, wheat, pig iron, and dry goods, made regular runs up and down the James.
The rapid expansion of railroads during the middle to late 1800s rendered the James River and Kanawha Canal obsolete. Today, this restored lock is a reminder of the colorful transportation history of Virginia and proof that not all mountain farmers lived in isolation.
Erected by National Park Service.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Blue Ridge Parkway marker series.
Location. 37° 33.313′ N, 79° 21.965′ W. Marker is in Big Island, Virginia, in Bedford County. Marker can be reached from Blue Ridge Parkway (at milepost 64), on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is located behind the James River Visitor Center (MP 63.6), on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Marker is in this post office area: Big Island VA 24526, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Harry F. Byrd Memorial Bridge (a few steps from this marker); A Transportation Corridor (within shouting distance of this marker); The Courage Of Frank Padget (approx. 5.1 miles away); Amherst County/Rockbridge County (approx. 5.1 miles away); Indian and Settler Conflict (approx. 6.7 miles away); Frank Padget (approx. 7.1 miles away); Frank Padget Water Tragedy (approx. 7.1 miles away); Apple Orchard Mtn. (approx. 7.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Big Island.
More about this marker. Several pictures of people and cargo being transported by canal boats appear on the right side of the marker. They include the captions “A common scene along the James River in the nineteenth century.” and “Many types of vessels ran the canal, carrying passengers and a variety of economic goods.”
Categories. • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 130 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on July 18, 2016.