What's YOUR Connection

Articles by River Lovers

Burwell's Bay Story by Jon Ruffin Jones Montgomery
Read a story about a childhood summer spent on the banks of the James at Burwell’s Bay and memories of the Ghost Fleet.

The Sturgeon Rider Tale by Gregory Robins

A brief guide to fishing the James by John Bryan

Here’s a fish tale of major proportions as local writer, Lee Carleton, tells about his face-to-face encounter with a resident of the James. Stalked by a Sturgeon

What is your connection to the James River?

Our Trip on the James

Adelaide L, a group of 12 people, and one dog, participated in the Runoff Rundown on July 11 and floated from Buchanan to Alpine. Here’s what she wrote:

I organized, at the last minute, a group to float on the James River for the Second Annual Run-Off Run-Down. While our group didn't raise any money, I think that the goal of increasing river awareness was achieved. Already, one member of the group wants to organize a cleanup day. And everyone wants to go again.

It was a day of many firsts:

It was Bill's first time kayaking
Don and Vickie had never kayaked on the James
Derek, Phillip, Debbie, Bill, Steffen, Sarah, Hershel and Bailey had never floated (or in Bailey's case swam) on this section of the James
Jennifer and I had never floated from Arcadia to Alpine
Phillip and Derek came home from their vacation at Bugs Island to float on the James
Don found a new snake
I touched said snake

The water was crystal clear and the weather held out - just a few warm sprinkles late in the day. No one flipped. We saw the remains of canal locks from the James River and Kanawha Canal, planned by George Washington to open waterways from Virginia westward to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It was begun in 1785.

We spotted a lot of wildlife and birds.

There were also the sounds of the river:  the rushing water in the upcoming riffles and rapids, the screaming hawk we never saw, the screaming kids around us, the trains coming down the tracks, and even the silence when you were alone in flat water.

We had a great day on the river, and plan to participate again next year.

Adelaide L.


My Favorite Place on the James

My favorite place on the James River is in Powhatan.. at the St. Francis/St Emma site.  It is a place of profound peace.  The Sisters are planning to protect it forever and in fact have placed a 1000 acre conservation easement on half of their property.   There is an old ferry landing and picnic place on the flood plain that is an amazing sight/site.  This place, now a nonprofit, FrancisEmma, Inc, holds the story of many generations of human history and many eons of life history.

~ Sr. Maureen

What I like about the James

I like the James River for many reasons.  I have a special feeling for the river because I was born in Riverside Hospital, Newport News, VA when the hospital was located along the James in downtown Newport News close to the Newport News Shipyard.  I determined years ago that if I wrote an autobiography it would be titled, "Born on the Banks of the James". 

I now live in Lynchburg and have canoed sections of the James River during the annual Batteaux Festival, have helped organize the Lynchburg portion of the James River Advisory Council's annual cleanup and have cleaned some of the tributaries that feed into the James in Lynchburg, and hiked the Blackwater Creek Trail.

Recently I learned that my family can be traced back to Jamestown. My feeling of oneness with the river may have some genetic connection.  All I know is that after spending many years somewhere other than along the banks of the James, now I am home and never hope to leave again in my lifetime.

Lynchburg, VA

I'm from Richmond, born and raised, and if there is one thing that defines my childhood it's the river.  I have spent countless hours fishing, swimming, jumping off trees, rafting, exploring, and making memories in and around the James. My favorite place was around Bosher's dam, which was a special spot for my two friends and I.  It was always the place to go when skipping school and grabbing a fishing rod to spend the afternoon.  Once summer rolled around, you could eat your fill of blackberries in the thickets near the bank, and it wasn't rare to run into a turkey, deer, or otter.  Because of this personal connection to the river as a favorite place for recreation, an outlet from the stresses of a fast-pace daily life, and its role as a refuge for so much wildlife, I care deeply for the James.

~ Wesley


I sure enjoy reading of the important work being done at JRA.

You have asked to hear about my connection with the James.  I am proud of the hard work done by members of the Virginia Canals and Navigation Society.  Having joined in 1977, and being a life member, I have seen not only preservation of historic treasures but creation of parks on riparian lands for the enjoyment of everyone, while protecting habitat for wildlife.

As a kayaker,  it is gratifying to have played a small part in securing the "Scenic River" designation for a portion of the James in Botetourt.  The James runs free due to action by the late Sylvia Brugh and VC&NS which blocked a hydro project there.  Next year will be the 25 years since that victory, and celebrate we will in Buchanan.  Be sure to visit proud and friendly Buchanan next year for their bicentenary.

This year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the VIRGINIA SCENIC RIVERS ACT with a very special campaign.  To kick this off, the Gwynn Locks site  on this upper James will be given a face lift.  Similar projects are being encouraged everywhere by our members, join us.   

The James is my river, make it your as well.

Riverly yours,
Philip de Vos


Send a brief paragraph on your connection to the James River to jwarrington@jrava.org and see it posted here, please include your first name and your location.


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Top 3 Favorite Places on the James:

Anywhere on the tidal James between downtown Richmond and the back of Presquile Island on my pontoon boat.  

Anywhere on the James at sunrise.

A secret spot on the southside of the River, between the dams Williams and Bosher.

~ Capt. Mike
Richmond, VA