Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Episode 437 (9-10-18): Rappahannock River Time is the Signature of “Solitude” by Bob Gramann

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:29)

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

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-7-18.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 10, 2018.

MUSIC – ~ 6 sec

This week, we feature a Virginia singer/songwriter’s music about his time, and time in general, on one of the Commonwealth’s major rivers.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds.

MUSIC – ~ 27 sec - “Roads and boards, mills and mines used to line this stream--all reclaimed by floods and vines, foundations sprouting gums and pines. River flows on, so does time. Canoe splits Rappahannock water; dip my paddle, let it glide.”

You’ve been listening to part of “Solitude,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, on the 2000 album, “That Squirrel Song.”  This and other river-themed songs by Mr. Gramann come in large part from his years of paddling the upper Rappahannock River and its tributaries, in the area between the Blue Ridge and the Fall Line at Fredericksburg.  The part of “Solitude” you heard describes some of the changes along the Rappahannock wrought by time and the effects of water, weather, humans, and other organisms.  Some riverside changes—such as flood impacts—happen relatively quickly.  But typically change along a river takes its time, such as in the slow pace of plants growing over an abandoned building foundation.  Indeed, the expression “being on river time” is widely used to mean following a slower pace—or at least, a less-structured pace—than modern society often demands.

Slow or fast, and seen or unseen, Virginia’s rivers are shaped by unrelenting time, unceasing forces, and unstoppable change.  Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 35 more seconds of “Solitude.”

MUSIC – ~ 33 sec - “Rain and sleet, wind or heat, it’s all the same to me. Weather—you can never choose; each day that’s mine, that day I’ll use, to flee from time in my canoe, its bow splits Rappahannock water. Dip my paddle, let it fly.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Solitude,” from the 2000 album “That Squirrel Song,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at https://www.bobgramann.com/folksinger.html.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


The following photos along the Rappahannock River in Virginia were taken by Bob Gramann (except as noted) and used with his permission.

Rappahannock River at the confluence with the Rapidan River (at the juncture of Culpeper, Spotsylvania, and Stafford counties), April 2004.

Rappahannock River at low water (view toward Stafford County), August 2011.

Rappahannock River in winter (view toward Stafford County), February 2006.

Bob Gramann, composer of the music heard in the Virginia Water Radio episode, canoeing in the Rappahannock River’s “First Drop” at Fredericksburg, April 1, 2018.  Photo by Lou Gramann.


The following text was taken from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Rappahannock River-Upper," online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/waterbody/rappahannock-river-upper/;

“The Rappahannock River flows from its origin at Chester Gap in Rappahannock County approximately 184 miles to the Chesapeake Bay.  The first 62 miles, from the headwaters to Mayfield Bridge (Fredericksburg), are designated State Scenic River.  The river has a watershed of approximately 2,715 square miles, and average annual discharge near Fredericksburg is typically about 1,639 cubic feet per second (cfs).

“During Colonial days, the Rappahannock River was a major shipping artery for transporting tobacco, salted fish, iron ore, and grains.   The watershed supports a variety of land uses; largely agricultural in the upper watershed, with manufacturing, light industrial, and retail applications throughout.  Soil erosion is a problem in the upper watershed.  Runoff from the major tributaries (Rapidan and Hazel Rivers) leaves the Rappahannock muddy after even minor storm events.

“Access to the Rappahannock system (defined here as the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers) is fairly limited and primitive.   Established access points on the Rappahannock (traveling downstream) are at Kelly’s Ford (Route 672 off Route 651) in Culpeper County and Motts Landing (Route 618) in Spotsylvania County.  About 25 miles separates these canoe/Jon boat slides, and an overnight camp stop is nearly mandatory for those that float fish this reach.  Another access point is located on the Rapidan River at Elys Ford (Route 610) in Spotsylvania County about 14 miles upstream of Motts Landing. Access may also be gained via several non established points.  These consist of VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] right-of-ways along bridges (e.g., Route 522 on the Rapidan)….

“The Rappahannock River’s character changes abruptly in Fredericksburg at the fall line (the limit of tidal influence).   Above the fall line, the river is usually clear, swift, and dominant substrates are bedrock, boulder and cobble providing perfect habitat for smallmouth bass and related species.  However, below Route 1 the river is tidal, and the substrate is finer, dominated by sand; and the water is frequently murky.   Species composition shifts with habitat, and largemouth bass, catfish and anadromous species are more common in and below Fredericksburg.  Boaters and anglers can now navigate from upstream access points such as Motts Landing across the old Embrey Dam site and into the tidal waters adjacent to Fredericksburg.”


Used for Audio

Cabins for You, “Gatlinburg [Tenn.] On River Time,” online at https://www.cabinsforyou.com/on-river-time.htm

Carla Davidson, “History Happened Here/River Time: Floating on the Ohio Aboard the Only Barge That Plies American Waters,” American Heritage, August/September 2002, online at https://www.americanheritage.com/content/river-time.

Etsy, “Popular items for ‘on river time,’” https://www.etsy.com/market/on_river_time.

On River Time, Birmingham, Ala., non-profit organization for “empowering children victims of abuse through flyfishing,” online at http://onrivertime.org/.

River Time Brewing, Barrington, Wash., online at https://rivertimebrewing.com/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Rappahannock River-Upper," online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/waterbody/rappahannock-river-upper/; and “Rappahannock River-Tidal," online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/waterbody/rappahannock-river-tidal/. [

Heidi Walters, “On River Time,” North Coast Journal (Humboldt County, Calif.), 3/2/06, online at https://www.northcoastjournal.com/030206/cover0302.html.

Ann Woodlief, In River Time—The Way of the James, Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1985, information online at https://archive.vcu.edu/english/engweb/Rivertime/.

For More Information about the Rappahannock River

Jon M. Bachman, “The Rappahannock River,” Virginia Explorer, Summer 1999, Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville.

Friends of the Rappahannock, Web site http://www.riverfriends.org/.

Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts on news, events, and information resources relevant to the Rappahannock are available online at http://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Rappahannock+River.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on the Rappahannock River or its basin.
Episode 71, 7/11/11 – on the Embrey Dam removal in 2004, featuring “Rappahannock Running Free.”
Episode 89, 11/21/11 – on the Rappahannock River basin generally, featuring “Rappahannock Rapids.”
Episode 245, 12/22/14 – on Virginia bridges.
Episode 272, 6/29/15 – on the 1995 floods in the Rappahannock River basin.
Episode 304, 2/22/16 – George Washington, Walter Johnson, and the Rappahannock River.
Episode 339, 10/24/16 – on the Hazel River.


The episode—the audio, additional information, or information sources—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
4.5 – ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystem.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.10 – changes over time in ecosystems, communities, and populations, and factors affecting those changes, including climate changes and catastrophic disturbances.
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 – influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.

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’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407 (2-12-19) – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.