Monday, June 19, 2017

Episode 373 (6-19-17): The James River Batteau Festival

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:15).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 6-16-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 19, 2017.

SOUND – ~3 sec

This week, the sound of the James River at Lynchburg opens a revised repeat of a 2013 episode—a “double-header” of music and sounds to mark the annual James River Batteau Festival.  Batteaux [the plural of batteau] were wooden, shallow-draft boats used on the James and many other rivers and canals to transport goods in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Such boats have been called the tractor-trailers of their day, traveling on water-based highways.  The batteau era ended with the widespread building of railroads in the 1800s, but the annual batteau festival—an eight-day float down the James on replica vessels—recalls the boats, crews, costumes, and lifestyle of the era.  The 120-mile float in 2017 starts in Lynchburg on June 17 and ends at Maidens boat landing in Powhatan County on June 24.

We mark this unique water event first with a 45-second excerpt from a song about river boatmen losing their jobs to the railroads: “James River Blues,” by Old Crow Medicine Show on the 2006 album “Big Iron World,” from Nettwork Records.  Following the music are about 90 seconds of sounds from the batteau festival launch in Lynchburg in June 2013.  The speaker is Jeff Taylor, the emcee at that event, and the loud boom you’ll hear is a replica cannon on one of the boats.

MUSIC - ~45 sec

VOICES and SOUNDS - ~85 sec

More information on batteaux and on other historical river and canal transportation is available from the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society, which organizes the annual James River batteau journey.  Thanks to Old Crow Medicine Show for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “James River Blues.”

MUSIC - ~9 sec


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.   Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.   In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This episode is an updated repeat of Episode 166 (6-17-13); that episode has been archived.

“James River Blues” and “Big Iron World” by Old Crow Medicine Show are 2006 copyright Nettwork Records, used with permission.   More information about Old Crow Medicine Show is available online at  Short segments of “James River Blues” are also included in the following Virginia Water Radio episodes: Episode 220 (6-30-14); Episode 251 (2-2-15); and Episode 334 (9-19-16).

Sounds from the 2013 Battteau Festival launch were recorded by Virginia Water Radio on June 15, 2013, on Percival’s Island in Lynchburg.  The band heard playing at that launch was the Virginia group Chamomile and Whiskey; information about that band is available online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.   More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Three photos above: views from the June 15, 2013, James River Batteau Festival launch at Lynchburg, Va.

The stopping point for the 2017 James River Batteau Festival: the James near Maidens, Va., on the Goochland/Powhatan county line, shown here on June 19, 2007.

A photo gallery by the Lynchburg News & Advance of the 2017 James River Batteau Festival launch is available online at this link.


Used in Audio

James River Association, “The Lynchburg Launch Festival,” online at

Minnie Lee McGehee, River Boat Echoes—Batteaux in Virginia, Virginia Canals and Navigations Society, McLean, Va., undated.

Virginia Canals and Navigations Society, home Web page at; and “James River Batteau Festival, online at

Virginia Canals and Navigations Society, James River Batteau Festival 2017 brochure, online (as PDF) at

City of Lynchburg, “James River Batteau Festival,” online at

For More Information about the James River Batteau Festival
Canoe is resurrected for Batteau Festival, Lynchburg News & Advance, as published by Roanoke Times, 6/18/15.

James River Batteau Festival launches a trip downriver ... and back in time, Lynchburg News & Advance, 6/17/17.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (

Previous episodes with connections to the James River include the following:
Abraham Lincoln and the James River – Episode 201, 2/17/14;
James River Falls at Richmond – Episode 87, 11/7/11;
Rivers in Civil War efforts to capture Richmond – EP164 – 6/3/13
River basins starting at the Blue Ridge – Episode 209, 4/14/14;
Virginia’s Peninsula and Historic Triangle – Episode 273, 7/6/15;
Virginia Rivers Quiz (Clinch, James, New, Potomac, Rappahannock) – Episode 334, 9/19/16;
Water origins of Virginia Declaration signers – Episode 220, 6/30/14.


The episode may help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds and water bodies.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs, which become effective in the 2017-18 school year:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.2 – major land and water features of North America.
USI.5 – factors that shaped colonial America and conditions in the colonies, including how people interacted with the environment to produce goods and service.
USI.8 – westward expansion and reform from 1801-1861.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.6 – Major events in first half of 1800s.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at