“Batteaux set off from Lynchburg” – TTG

Smoke drifts ahead of the Alvin Eugene batteau after it fires a cannon to signal the start of the 37th annual James River Batteau Festival Saturday in Lynchburg. / Photo by Joe Stinnett

Fifteen batteaux set off from Lynchburg down the James River to near Richmond Saturday morning as the 37th annual James River Batteau Festival got underway in Lynchburg. The festival will continue through next Saturday, June 25, when the boats come out of the water at Maiden’s Landing.

The batteaux are hand-built to the same specifications as the watercraft which hauled tobacco, flour, and other cargo along the James and multiple other rivers in Virginia from the late 1700s up through about 1840 when they were mostly replaced with canal boats and railroads. In fact, one of the batteau is named for Anthony Rucker, an Amherst County tobacco grower, who is credited with inventing the Virginia batteau with his brother Benjamin. Previous versions of the Anthony Rucker were among the original recreations when the festival began in the 1980s.

The weather for the launch of the batteaux is generally hot and sticky along the river, typical for June in Virginia. But Saturday, humidity was low, temperatures were mild, and several hundred people on both the Lynchburg and Amherst sides of the river watched the launch. 

As usual, multiple kayaks and canoes accompanied the fleet downstream, with dogs and small children playing in the shallow water before the traditional cannon blast that starts the festival. The batteau crews will camp along the way each night.

For background story on what a batteau is, see our previous story, “Celebrating eight days on the James.” (note: This is an excellent, in-depth article on the batteaux.)


Comment: A great little story by Joe Stinnet for the Cardinal News. This celebration/excursion started Sunday in magnificent weather for southern Virginia in mid-June. The batteaux are accompanied by a slew of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. It would be a hoot to join the crowd just to see the batteaux with their fore and aft sweepers negotiate the currents and rapids of the upper James River. More on the ongoing Batteaux Festival is on their Facebook page.

It would be a great trip without the crowds or batteaux with just myself and my younger son in our kayaks. Hell, we can go through Richmond and haul out at the docks at Rockett’s Landing. That’s practically home for my son. But we’d portage around Bosher’s Dam, a low-head dam in Richmond. Two women who weren’t sufficiently respectful of the danger posed by low-head dams lost their lives over Memorial Day weekend.


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7 Responses to “Batteaux set off from Lynchburg” – TTG

  1. mcohen says:

    Slightly off topic but when is the poetry translator guy coming back.Also can he translate Russian or ukrainian poetry.
    Sorry but cannot remember his name.was it steve il.

    • Pat Lang says:

      No idea. His call although he stopped posting with grace unlike a few others with their noses in the air over Ukraine policy.

      • mcohem says:

        Media manipulation is what’s on the nose.In my suburb there were stand with ukraine signs on the bus stops.Nowhere else in the city.They are gone now.Along with the election billboards.
        Never seen that before.

  2. jim ticehurst says:

    Very interesting historical data about Virginia and the James River…and a Great Photo..too..My Mothers Family Came From Hanover county Virginia and Were Surveyors along the James River…in the later 1600s through the 1700s before going to Kentucky..Thanks for the Story..

  3. Bill Roche says:

    Thanks for the story on the Batteaux regalia up the James. This fall I hope to do a bit a battle field snooping in the area. I too had a bit outdoors this weekend. I arrived in Saranac Lake N.Y. on the 17th of JUNE. It was about 50 deg. and raining heavily. The next day the temp dropped to around 45 and oh so windy. You couldn’t cast a fly or spinner. The fish were safe. Sunday was a beautiful sunny day if you like boating in a windy 45 degrees with white caps and an occasional Loon looking for shelter. “Who wants to go out this am”, asked the cap’n (my wife). None replied. A trip to the Treudeux institute, followed by a forlorn but hopeful visit to the local trout hatchery was arranged. The party drove home to Westchester, on Monday, an absolutely beautiful day. As the say in the mountains, “if you don’t like the weather, stick around awhile”. Saranac is reputed to be one of the coldest spots in the lower 48. The first trip I made was Memorial Day in ’63. I crossed the lake with a 1 and 1/2 horse power motor. It took forever and yeah, it snowed. I used to have great luck fishing there. Then one day in the early ’80’s I angered the fish god and he shut me down. Haven’t caught a thing since. Mid September I am going on a guided trip for pike and musky (Wileys Guide Service). I have acknowledged – I need help. Maybe I’ll let the “committee of correspondence” know how I did. If you love the outdoors the ADK State Pk is hard to beat. If you are a student of the French and Indian War and the Revolution there is much to see from Ft. Stanwix to Ft. Ti. Perhaps this summer I will finally get my butt up to the battle field at Saratoga.

    • TTG says:

      Bill Roche,

      I know the region and the weather well. I caught strep throat on a night cruise out on Lake George on a cold, blustery August night years ago. In ROTC we did several rubber boat excursions in the area, the upper Hudson, the Raquette River and one trip to some small islands on Saranac Lake. Those were arduous hours paddling against the wind and among the whitecaps. I still remember the words of a friend in the middle of that paddle. “I love these rose colored glasses. The world just looks so bright and pleasant in these rose colored glasses.” Without missing a stroke, several of us looked at him and broke out in laughter. It was good to take a few hippies along.

      I know Saratoga Battlefield very well. I’ve walked, skied and snowshoed damn near every inch of that battlefield in all kinds of weather. I also did the snowshoe/ski/skate race down Lake George commemorating Robert Rogers Battle of the Showshoes. That was a hump. I was wise enough bring my hockey skates as well as my XC skis. Wouldn’t have made it on just skis. There’s not enough blue klister in the world to make that doable on just skis.

    • leith says:

      Bill R –

      Let us know how you cook up that musky. I had some as a boy. I don’t recollect how my Aunt Clarissa cooked it. But suspect it was somehow similar to the way she pan fried the pickerel we used to catch, with butter & lemon wedges.

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