Friday, July 8, 2011

Episode 71 (July 11, 2011): "Rappahannock Running Free" by Bob Gramann

Click to listen to episode (2:25) 

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of July 11, 2011.

This week we feature a song about one of Virginia’s major rivers and about a major part of that river’s history.  Have a listen for about 35 seconds.

You’ve been listening to part of “Rappahannock Running Free,” by Bob Gramann on his 2008 CD, “Mostly Live.”  The complete song relates some of the history of human changes to the Rappahannock River, from a short-lived canal system in the 1800s, to construction of Embrey Dam in 1910 for power generation, and finally to the historic breaching of Embrey Dam in 2004.  Following Embrey’s removal, the Rappahannock now flows unobstructed for over 180 miles from its Blue Ridge headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay, making it the longest free-flowing river on the East Coast.  The years-long effort to open the Rappahannock parallels removals nationwide of over 800 dams—and counting—that are obsolete or unsafe and whose removal enhances aquatic systems or recreation.  According to the organization American Rivers, 60 dams in 14 states were removed in 2010, including Riverton Dam on the North Fork Shenandoah River in Warren County, Virginia.  Thanks to Mr. Gramann for permission to use this week’s music.

Show notes:
“Rappahannock Running Free,” from the 2008 album, “Mostly Live,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at

Information on removal of Embrey Dam was taken from A Tale of Two Dams: From Salem Church Dam to the Embrey Dam, by Hal Wiggins (King George, Va.: Black Cat Press, 2006).

Information on the Rappahannock Rivers was taken from Mr. Wiggins’ A Tale of Two Dams, from “The Rappahannock River,” Virginia Explorer (Summer 1999), Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, and from the National Park Service and Chesapeake Conservancy “Find Your Chesapeake/Rappahannock River Water Trail” Web site at

Various videos of the breaching of Embrey Dam on February 23, 2004, are available on You Tube at

More information on dam removals is available from the American Rivers, “Dam Removal Database,” online at; the University of California Clearinghouse for Dam Removal Information, online at; and the U.S. Geological Survey, “National Dam Removal Database,” online at

For another musical tribute to the Rappahannock River, have a listen to an excerpt from “Rappahannock Rapids,” by Morey A. Stanton, in Virginia Water Radio Episode 89, 11-21-11.

Recent Virginia Water News
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Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and  Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.