“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Piney River in Nelson County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Hurricane Camille

The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail

Hurricane Camille Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, March 8, 2016
1. Hurricane Camille Marker
Inscription.  On the night of August 19th, 1969, Hurricane Camille passed over a sleeping Nelson County, forever changing the land and the people who lived here. The storm initially made landfall in Mississippi and weakened as it headed inland, thus forecasters did not expect the storm to turn toward Virginia.

With little warning, at least 27 inches of rain fell over Nelson County in a 5-hour span. The resulting flash flooding and mudslides destroyed 100 bridges, tore countless buildings from their foundations, and re-routed waterways.

The storm took the lives of more than 100 people, many of whom were taken by surprise as flood waters rose while they slept. 52 people were killed along Davis Creek, 22 died in the village of Massies Mill, and more than 30 people were never found.

The aftermath of Camille required an immense search-and-rescue and clean-up effort and led to new emergency preparedness protocols.

(top right) Although Camille had been downgraded to a tropical depression when it arrived in Virginia, the storm collided over Nelson County with a cold front approaching
Hurricane Camille Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, March 8, 2016
2. Hurricane Camille Marker
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from the North. The combined weather patterns resulted in the heaviest rains ever recorded in Virginia from a tropical cyclone, the worst flooding of the James River in over a century, and mudslides that were predicted to occur only once every thousand years. Courtesy of NOAA.

(middle right) The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway was forced to rebuild after flood waters carried away bridges and heavily damaged sections of track. The cost of repairs was the first in a series of events that brought about the downfall of the railway. Courtesy of Whippany Railway Museum.

(bottom right) These photos from 1969 show the force with which floodwaters overtook the landscape. The Piney River (center) and Tye River (bottom) washed away entire bridges as well as anything within hundreds of feet of their banks. Courtesy of the Library of Virginia.
Erected by Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersRailroads & StreetcarsWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical date for this entry is August 16, 1969.
Location. 37° 42.333′ N, 79° 0.882′ W. Marker is in Piney River, Virginia, in Nelson County. Marker can be reached from Patrick Henry Highway (Virginia Route 151) 0.4 miles south of Firehouse Road
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(Virginia Route 675), on the left when traveling south. Located along the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3124 Patrick Henry Hwy, Piney River VA 22964, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. American Cyanamid (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Rivers (approx. 2.3 miles away); Cabellsville (approx. 4.2 miles away); The Reverend Robert Rose (approx. 4½ miles away); Action at Tye River (approx. 4.6 miles away); a different marker also named Hurricane Camille (approx. 4.8 miles away); Thomas Massie (approx. 4.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Piney River.
Also see . . .  Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail. (Submitted on March 9, 2016.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on March 9, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 449 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 9, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Oct. 5, 2022