Roanoke Rapids in Halifax County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Batteaux and Batteauxmen
Navigating A Perilous River
Batteaux, originating from the French word for “boat” averaged sixty feet long, eight feet wide, and two feet deep. They could carry cargo weighing up to six tons but only drafted eighteen inches. This allowed them to navigate the shallow waters of the upper Roanoke River and the canal. Sweeps at both the bow and stern could be used to maneuver the boat quickly and in all directions as the current propelled it. Batteauxmen also used poles to push the boats back upstream. A batteaux had an average crew of five men.
Simply referred to as Batteauxmen, the crews were rugged, strong, and individualistic. During the day they had to navigate swift-flowing currents and rapids and at night had to protect their cargo from thieves and maintain the boats. The Batteauxmen were also renowned for their love of games of chance and contests of strength and maritime skills.
Think about this: Did Batteauxmen prefer navigating the river during the rainy spring and fall or the dry summer?
(top) An artist’s portrayal of a batteaux on the James River, Virginia. Courtesy of Virginia
(bottom) A reproduction batteaux being navigated down the New River in 2005. Courtesy of the National Park Service
Erected by The Roanoke Canal Museum & Trail.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 36° 28.492′ N, 77° 38.848′ W. Marker is in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, in Halifax County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Jackson Street Extension and Roanoke Avenue (State Highway 48), on the right when traveling west. Marker located on the grounds of the Roanoke Canal Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 15 Jackson Street Extension, Roanoke Rapids NC 27870, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Batteaux (within shouting distance of this marker); Roanoke Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Roanoke Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); A Lock in Action – Step By Step (within shouting distance of this marker); The Batteauxmen (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Kraft Pulp in United States (approx. ¼ mile away); Allen JonesBenjamin S. Turner (approx. 3.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke Rapids.
Also see . . . The Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail. (Submitted on December 6, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 6, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 26 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 6, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.