Monday, April 22, 2019

Episode 469 (4-22-19): Introducing the Bullpasture and Cowpasture Rivers

Click to listen to episode (4:33).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-19-19.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 22, 2019.

SOUNDS – ~ 8 sec

This week, those bovine bellows open an episode about two western Virginia rivers with cattle in their names.  Have a listen for about 30 seconds to sounds from the two rivers, accompanied by some music for a special wildlife area in that part of the Commonwealth, and see if you can guess the river names.  And here’s a hint: If you’re familiar with the Virginia counties of Bath or Highland, this question probably won’t get PAST you.

SOUNDS - ~29 sec

If you guessed the Bullpasture or Cowpasture rivers, you’re right!  You heard, first, the Bullpasture in Highland County, and then the Cowpasture in Bath County, both recorded in March 2019.  The music was “Deer of the Dawn,” by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, composed for the Highland State Wildlife Management Area, located in Highland County.  Both rivers arise in that county and flow southwesterly on either side of Bullpasture Mountain, with the Bullpasture River eventually flowing into the Cowpasture near the Highland-Bath county line.  Farther south still, in Botetourt County, the winding Cowpasture River—its Native American name has been interpreted in English as “winding waters”—joins the Jackson River to form the James.

The National Park Service has described the Cowpasture and Bullpasture watershed as “one of the largest unpolluted, unspoiled, and undisturbed river systems in the region,” and the Bullpasture as “one of the most scenic tributaries in the James River watershed.”  Bullpasture Gorge is particularly noteworthy for steep mountain ridges on land and significant rapids in the river.  The Bullpasture River is a stocked trout fishery described by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as “a big stream that will delight almost any angler.”  The Cowpasture River Preservation Association has described that river’s region as “remote, mountainous, and rural,” home primarily to farms, other residences, summer camps, and hunting and fishing camps.

Named for cattle, the Cowpasture and Bullpasture watershed is home not only to those creatures but also to fish, wildlife, forests, scenic terrain, and a history of human ties to those natural resources.

Thanks to for making the cattle sounds available.  Thanks also to Timothy Seaman for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “Deer of the Dawn.”

MUSIC – ~ 20 sec


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, 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.


The cattle sounds (“Bulls and cows in a field in Missouri, USA,” May 2013) were recorded by user felix.blume and made available for public use by, online at, under the Creative Commons 0 License (Public Domain Dedication).  For more information on Creative Commons licenses, please see; information on the Public Domain Dedication license specifically is online at

The Bullpasture River and Cowpasture River sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio along Route 612 in Highland County, Va., on March 16, 2019, and along U.S. Route 39 in Bath County, Va., on March 17, 2019, respectively.

“Deer of the Dawn,” from the 2004 album “Virginia Wildlife,” is copyright 2004 by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Timothy Seaman is available online at  The “Virginia Wildlife” CD was a collaboration between Mr. Seaman and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

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


Bullpasture River, looking upstream at County Route 612 in Highland County, Va., March 16, 2019.

Cowpasture River, looking upstream from the U.S. Route 39 bridge in Bath County, Va., March 17, 2019.

Cowpasture River, looking upstream from County Route 633 in Alleghany County, Va., July 19, 2009.

Confluence of the Cowpasture River (right background) and the Jackson River (left background) to form the James River in Botetourt County, Va., July 19, 2009.


American Whitewater, “Safety Code of American Whitewater,” online at

County of Bath, Va., “Farms and Fish Hatcheries,” online at

Cowpasture River Preservation Association, “History,” online at

Highland County Chamber of Commerce, “Farm Stays,” online at

National Park Service, “Rivers/Virginia,” online at

Stephen J. Resser, “Cowpasture River Fish Community Assessment,” Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 2014, online (as PDF) at

Roanoke Outside Foundation, “Find Rivers and Creeks/Bullpasture River,” online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Highland [Wildlife Management Area,” online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Cowpasture River,” online at

Virginia Tourism Corporation, “Virginia is For Lovers/Bullpasture Gorge,” online at, “Settlers of the Bullpasture in Augusta County, Va.,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on areas near the Bullpasture and Cowpasture Rivers.
Episode 379, 7/31/17 – Water’s at the Heart of Virginia’s Western Highlands.
Episode 428, 7/9/18 – Introducing the Jackson River.


The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

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, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

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.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – natural, human, and capital resources.
3.8 – understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.2 – physical geography and native peoples of Virginia past and present.
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.4 – types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Government Course
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

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

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 333, 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 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.