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. Touch for map. Marker is located behind the James River Visitor Center (MP 63.6),
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. 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). Touch for a list and map 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 was last revised on July 18, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 18, 2016, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 163 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 18, 2016, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.