22 December 2008

My World Tuesday-The Maury River, Rockbridge County, Virginia

The Dam at Lexington, Virginia

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Sunday, the 21st I decided to head up the highway toward Lexington, Virginia. Lexington is located in Rockbridge County and is adjacent to Botetourt County where I live. I braved howling winds, snow flurries and temperatures in the high 20s to capture some shots around the area. It was absolutely beautiful out and well worth braving the cold. I will be posting photographs of my excursion in the weeks ahead.

As you travel north on Interstate 81 from Botetourt County you get a look at the Maury River as it passes under the interstate. The Maury River gathers its headwaters miles to the north beyond U.S. Highway 250 which snakes through the rugged mountains between the western Virginia towns of Churchville and Monterey.

Small mountain streams, many of which hold native brook trout join to form the Calfpasture River which merges with the Little Calfpasture River just west of Goshen Pass. There the Maury River is born. The water of the two major tributaries barely have time to mingle before the Maury enters the famous Goshen Pass and begins a turbulent run downstream as much as 20 feet in one 100 yard stretch of the river. Once through the Pass, the river drops into the valley, continuing toward Lexington at a fast pace. It maintains that rate of flow, except where man intervened, until it enters the James River at Glasgow.
Unlike most Virginia Rivers, the Maury is contained entirely within Rockbridge County. It deos not cross any county lines. While nature designed the Maury as a fast flowing stream from its headwaters to the confluence with the James, several dams have changed its personality. A pair of dams, an eight-foot one in Lexington (pictured here) and a 20-foot one near Buena Vista impound the fast water forming stretches of calm water behind them.
The Maury River is fairly short by most standards. From the confluence of the Calfpasture and the Little Calfpasture Rivers, it is approximately 30 miles to its confluence with the James River. Enroute it brushes the charming cities of Lexington and Buena Vista. While there is challenging whitewater such as Devil's Kitchen and other rapids too difficult for the novice to tackle, the river offers plenty of Class I and II water that the average canoeist or kayaker can handle. In addition to the fast water at Goshen Pass, there are the remains of Goose Neck Dam downstream from Buena Vista that require care. This is Class II+ water.
The names of rivers often raise questions from serious river lovers. How did the river get that name? Some times there is an explanation, some times none. There is, however, an explanation for this one. The Maury River was first called the North River of the James. It enters the James River from the north. But then came Matthew Fontaine Maury, a professor at Virginia Military Institute in the years following the Civil War during which he had served in the Confederate forces. In those postwar years he fell in love with Goshen Pass and requested that at his death his remains be carried through the pass and on to Richmond for burial. An honor guard of Virginia Military Institute Cadets carried out his wish. A monument in his hor now rests on the side of Virginia Primary Highway 39 where it passed through Goshen Pass. And the river was named for him.
Obviously the Maury River gets a lot of attention from whitewater canoeists and kayakers, primarily becuase of the Goshen Pass wild water. Most of this kind of river recreational use occurs during the colder months when the river is high. During the dry months of summer the river in this section is too low to canoe or even use a kayak. The only exception comes when heavy rainfall in the watershed of the river raise its level significantly, even if only for a day or so.

38 comments:

ewok1993 said...

Thanks for braving the elements to bring us some snaps from your part of the world. Very beautiful photos.

Reader Wil said...

Very impressive photos! And beaytiful too! Have a great holiday!

Les said...

Rte 39 is one of my favorite Virginia drives. We took it last summer on the way to camping at Hidden Valley outside of Warm Springs with lots of stops by the river. My wife, her mother, her uncle and grandmother all went to Maury High School home of the Commodores. Unless something changes my son will go there also. Have you ever seen Maury's monument on Monument Ave. in Richmond?

fishing guy said...

Erin: What a neat post ofn the rivers and dams in your world. My heart goes out to the rivers in my world as yours does to your rivers.

mannanan said...

Thank you for yet again fantastic photographs and a brilliant geography lesson asboput the are you live in. I just love this meme as I learn something new each week. Thank you for sharing your world with us.

Ken Conger Photography said...

Attracted to you blog by your title. Great series and wonderful commentary. I live in VA on the east side. Happy Holidays. Blue Skies.

Sylvia K said...

Really beautiful photos and I love the very interesting history as well, Erin. Thank you for sharing all of this in a very interesting and picturesque post! Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

SandyCarlson said...

That is just gorgeous! I love the water!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

As a hydrologist, that's a post I can really admire. Reminds me of the Lehigh River up in PA, but not as big.

Natural Moments said...

The Maury River looks inviting to go tubing in the spring months when the temps warm up.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Wonderful photo's of stunning landscape and I love the name story. Merry Christmas.

Tanya said...

Beautiful photos. We haven't made it up to Lexington yet but I'm really looking forward to it! It was certainly cold out on Sunday!

Tanya said...

OH, and Merry Christmas!

MedaM said...

Beautiful photos followed by really interesting history!
Have a wonderful holiday!

Wren said...

The mountains of Virginia are lovely. I've visited Lexington, but came in from a different direction and missed the river and its scenery. It's lovely, even this time of year.

By the way, my elementary school was named for the same person as the river.

Mojo said...

It was well worth all the suffering just to get that second photo. That's a seriously awesome shot!

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

Thanks for sharing fab pics of your world. I love the close-up of the flowing water.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

We have only been in Virginia a bit over a year and still so much here to see and learn about. Thanks for these great photos and also the info and history you include!

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

NAVAL LANGA said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS---CLICK HERE FOR THE CARD

Lawstude said...

very beautiful photos. anyways, have a blessed christmas to you and your love ones... from my islands to yours.

Vamsee said...

Beautiful Posts. I cant believe you went out in that weather! Bravo.
Happy Christmas

mountain.mama said...

Great post, beautiful scenery!

Tabib said...

I love the water flowing.
Great pictures series.
Happy holidays!

napaboaniya said...

Nice details on all the shots :)
Merry X'mas and Happy 2009!!

Gattina said...

What a beautiful landscape and that river looks quite wild !

maryt/theteach said...

How lucky you are to live in such a beautiful area of Virginia! Happy My World Tuesday! :)

Jedediah said...

Great shots, thanks for sharing

Daryl said...

Spectacular ...

Thanks for visiting my sky!

:-Daryl

Tash said...

you've created an excellent photo (& word) essay. I love the 1st photo with the raised cobble stones & the river.

Titania said...

It is so very interesting for me to see and learn about another part of the world, thanks to your great pictures and text. I love the rivers and also the quirky names given to certain places.
Virginia country site looks beautiful.leogi

Gill - That British Woman said...

you always have such interesting posts and lovely photos.

Gill in Canada

chanpheng said...

Beautiful pictures. The water looks really cold.

Happy New Year!

Gill - That British Woman said...

just popped by to say hi and to tell you I am mentioning your blog in a post on Friday (9th).

Gill in Canada

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Beautiful photos, interesting narrative:)
Jan

ShabbyInTheCity said...

I know that was a fun outing even though it was freezing! Nice to see that global warming is chilling out a little ;)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I love the sound of water gurgling and burbling. I bet it is so relaxing to sit beside these dams.
Are those real cobblestones in the first picture?
Thanks for sharing these lovely photos and a part of what you see in your world :)

~Lisa
~aka Rapunzle

Susie of Arabia said...

Great series of photos - somehow I missed this before!

Michael Gowell said...

Great pix & text, thanks. There's a great mandolin tune called 'Maury River Blues' - it's on The Johnson Mtn Boys 'Let The Whole World Talk' album & also Jesse Brock's 'Kickin' Grass' CD. Do you think the tune reflects the moods of the river, or perhaps the Maury River Fiddlers' Convention?