11 December, 2008

SKYWATCH FRIDAY-A Day in the Countryside

This past Sunday the weather was freezing but the skies beautiful and blue. The wind was whipping and the temperature was in the teens but, I decided to brave the elements and hit the road. Traveled about 18 miles up the road and was blessed with many great photographic opportunities including this of a side channel of the James River near Eagle Rock. Please visit Skywatch Friday for more fabulous photographs from throughout the world.

The James River is a 410-mile (660 km) long river, including its Jackson River source. It drains a catchment comprising 10,432 square miles (27,020 km2). The watershed includes about 4% open water and an area with a population of 2.5 million people (2000). It is the 12th longest river in the United States that remains entirely within a single state.

The James River forms in the Allegheny Mountains, near Iron Gate on the border between Allegheny and Botetourt counties from the confluence of the Cowpasture and Jackson Rivers, and flows into the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads. Tidal waters extend west to Richmond, the capital of Virginia, at its fall line, (the head of navigation). Larger tributaries draining to the tidal portion include the Appomatox River, Chickahominy River, Warwick River, Pagan River, and the Nansemono River.

The navigable portion of the river was the major highway of the Colony of Virginia during its first 15 years, facilitating supply ships delivering supplies and more people from England. However, for the first five years, despite many hopes of gold and riches, these ships sent little of monetary value back to the sponsors. In 1612, businessman John Rolfe successfully cultivated a non-native strain of tobacco,which proved popular in England. Soon, the river became the primary means of exporting the large hogshead of this cash crop from an ever-growing number of plantations with wharfs along its banks. This development made the proprietary efforts of the Virginia Company of London successful financially, spurring even more development, investments and immigration. Below the falls at Richmond, many James River plantations had their own wharfs, and additional ports and/or early railheads were located at Warwick, Bermuda Hundred, City Point, Claremont, Scotland, and Smithfield, and, during the 17th century, the capital of the Colony at Jamestown.

Navigation of the James River played an important role in early Virginia commerce and the settlement of the interior, although growth of the colony was primarily in the Tidewater regions during the first 75 years. The upper reaches of the river above the head of navigation at the fall line were explored by fur trading parties sent by Abraham Wood during the late 17th century.
Although ocean-going ships could not navigate past present-day Richmond, portage of products and navigation with smaller craft to transport crops other than tobacco was feasible. Produce from the Piedmont and Great Valley regions traveled down the river to seaports at Richmond and Manchester through such port towns as Lynchburg, Scottsville, Columbia and Buchanan.

Today the river offers a variety of recreational activities including rafting, fishing and boating.