The James River Batteau Festival is an 8-day journey down the James River from Lynchburg to Maidens Landing using recreated late 18th & early 19th century cargo boats called James River Batteaux. Hundreds of these vessels traversed the James between the mountains and Richmond. The rich history of these craft began in 1775 with ingenuity of two Amherst County brothers, Anthony and Benjamin Rucker. Even though the working batteau is no longer used, historians and river enthusiasts still keep the memory alive.
Modern era batteau crews have hand built replicas of the 18th & early 19th century flat wooden cargo vessels once used to haul tobacco. Since 1986, they have traveled on an 8 day journey from Lynchburg, Virginia to Maiden’s Landing in Powhatan, Virginia. Today the annual June event is sponsored by the Virginia Canal & Navigations Society.
The annual JRBF has had as many as 25 boats and their crews travel the 120 river mile (200 km) distance each year. This event has also become very popular for kayakers and canoeists who enjoy floating along amongst the batteaux on their voyage.
The Virginia Canals and Navigations Society was formed in 1977 to preserve and enhance Virginia’s rich inland waterways heritage in all its fascinating aspects. History, exploration, archaeology, modeling, local lore and legend, restoration, preservation, park and trail development – these are some of the many areas of interest our members pursue to their own great satisfaction and frequently to the lasting benefit of their communities and state.
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