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Changing transportation patterns shaped Scottsville's evolution.  Beginning in 1745, the natural ford across the James River made this site attractive for the first county seat of Albemarle County.  Early settlers built a ferry here to connect the village to portions of the county to the south.  Bateau traffic to Richmond flourished as a means to transport produce to market and finished goods to local stores.  The village's subsequent development as a transshipping point on the James River resulted in its incorporation as the Town of Scottsville in 1818.  Trade and the town's importance increased when Albemarle County named flour and tobacco inspectors to serve at Scottsville, and several Shenandoah Valley counties shipped their grain to Scottsville via the Staunton and James River Turnpike.  By 1835, Scottsville had a population of 600 and trade was so heavy that demand arose for building ground outside the town limits for both warehouses and residences.

When the James River and Kanawha Canal opened in 1840 between Richmond and Lynchburg, the era of river navigation in Scottsville ended.  Freight could be shipped on the canal more cheaply than by wagon.  And the canal furnished an easy, safe, and unobstructed line of communication from east and west as it remained in operation both during floods and in times of low water.  Trade in Scottsville grew, and the town's population rose to about 1000 in 1841.  Although the canal remained in operation until 1881, the poorly-kept roads leading to Scottsville hampered wagon traffic that carried freight for the canal.  Trade to Scottsville began to decline in the late 1840s, and by 1850, the population of Scottsville slipped to 666.

Just after 1850, the Virginia Central Railroad was constructed to Charlottesville, and shippers from the Shenandoah Valley began using the railroad vice the more difficult wagon journey overland on the Rail ties laid on canal towpath, 1881 Staunton and James River Turnpike to Scottsville.  They preferred instead the shorter and better turnpike to Charlottesville and its railroad transportation east.  Besides meeting much competition from the railroads, the canal also suffered major damage during the Civil War and from two major floods in the 1870's.  As it teetered on the brink of financial failure, the James River and Kanawha Company deeded the canal to the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad in 1880, which began building their track on the old canal towpath.  The railroad section through Scottsville was completed the following year along with the first telegraph line.  Thus Scottsville was connected with the outside world by modern facilities of transportation and communications.

But the railroad did little to improve commerce in Scottsville as the town recovered from the Civil War.  Scottsville was given no special railroad function to fill, such as a division point, and was relegated to the role of a small station of the James River Division.  By 1888, there was a marked decline in freight and passengers arriving in Scottsville, but a marked increase in passengers leaving town.  The census of 1890 gives Scottsville's population as only 362, a decline of 21% from 1880.

Scottsville bridge over James River, 1907 Highway transportation received a boost in 1907 with the construction of the Scottsville Bridge over the James River.  Continued highway improvements and the affordability of automobiles facilitated trade and also made Scottsville's population highly mobile.  Following countrywide trends as rural America moved to the city, Scottsville's population fell to 283 in 1910.  By the end of World War I, however, two State highways intersected in Scottsville, and Scottsville once again served as a market, shipping, and distributing center.  The town's population in 1920 exceeded 330, and Scottsville had twenty stores, two large flour mills, an ice plant, a theater, three garages, a braid factory, two large oil companies, two hotels, two lumber plants, two restaurants, one boarding house, two drugstores, three doctors, one dentist, two schools, two dairies, one hospital, one shoe shop, and two blacksmith shops.

To learn more about the geology at Scottsville that helped shape the natural horseshoe bend of the James River and resulted in our town becoming a transshipping point on the James and to see transportation-related photos of Scottsville from the early 1900's, please click on each image below for a larger view and more information.

Why The River Bends by Adam Robinson

Horseshoe Bend of the James River

Date: ca. 1990

Photographer: 
Robert Llewellyn

Image
Number:

 RL01cdRL01

Comments: 

The magnificence of the James River gives metaphors pause.  To navigate its waters as fireflies gather on the cusp of a July evening, to thread a course through an autumn colonnade of poplars dipped in molten gold, is to understand why this river carries the lifeblood of Virginia within its embrace.  And if you listen carefully, beneath the river's roar you might hear whispers of another time, voices of Monacan Indians and batteau captains and canal engineers, for the James River is a river flowing through time as well as space.  After all, the foundations of Virginia's history are built upon this river.

So, too, is the history of the town of Scottsville.  Scottsville finds itself upon the Horseshoe Bend, an isolated meander of the James River, bounded for many miles to the east and west by relatively straight stretches of river.  And while steep cliffs border the James River throughout much of the Piedmont, the Horseshoe Bend boasts gentle slopes on its northern and southern shores.  The town's placement on this geographical oddity is no coincidence.  Scottsville's early settlers, the Monacan Indians, were drawn to the area's fertile flood plains and the natural ford at the Horseshoe Bend.  And when Albemarle County was established in 1744, the area that would one day become Scottsville was chosen as the location of the county's courthouse, due to its position on this convenient ford of the river.

For the full article by Adam Robinson about why the James River bends at Scottsville and its impact on the town's settlement and success as a transportation center, visit Why The River Bends.

Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Boyd, Edmond & Davenport Packet Boats

Train Derailment at Lock 22, 1880

Date:  ca. 1842

Image Number:  JH563cdJH30

Comments:  The metal tag at left reads "BE&D Packet, 8."  In the mid-1800's, such small metal tags were attached to a traveler's personal luggage and usually bore the name of the issuing party (hotel, railroad or other transportation company) along with a number by which a passenger could identify his or her luggage.  The BE&D initials on this baggage tag stand for the initials of Boyd, Edmond, and Davenport, the dominant packet (passenger) boat company on the James River and Kanawha Canal which was organized in March 1842.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Train Derailment at Lock 22, 1880

Train Derailment at Lock 22, 1880

Date:  1880

Image Number:  B109cdB17

Comments:  In the waning days of the James River and Kanawha Canal, tracks for the Richmond & Allegheny Railroad (later C&O) were laid on the canal's towpath.  This photo shows a serious train derailment that occurred at Lock 22, two miles southeast of Scottsville.  See the larger image for more details about this derailment.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Biking Through Albemarle with John Jones, 1882-1883

John Jones, 1881

Date:  1882-1883

Image Number:  LL01cdLL01

Comments:  Linda Listmann of Santa Cruz, CA, is transcribing her great grandfather's journals, which began in 1875.  His name was John Jones.  In 1882, John was one of two astronomers, who came with Ormond Stone from the Cincinnati Observatory to oversee the building of McCormick Observatory at the University of Virginia.  Stone became director of the observatory, and John helped with the building and his mentor's astronomy work.  According to his journal, John arrived in Charlottesville on a bicycle and took room and board at the Emersons' home.  In April 1883, John met Miss Nannie Harris of Scottsville, who came to stay with the Emersons and help out.  Over the next year, a gentle romance evolved between John and his Miss Nannie.  See the larger image to read more about John's biking adventures through Albemarle and frequent visits with Miss Nannie Harris and her Scottsville family during 1882-1883.


All rights reserved 2003 by Linda Listmann


Last Crossing of Scottsville Ferry, 1907

Last Crossing of Scottsville Ferry, 1907

Date:  1907

Image Number:  B62cdB16

Comments:  Samuel R. Gault stands in the lower right corner of the Scottsville Ferry on its last crossing of the James River in 1907.  The new bridge, which made the ferry obsolete, is shown behind this group of young men and women as they enjoy their last ride on this historic ferry.  In 1745 Daniel Scott, son of Edward Scott, began this ferry operation at Scott's Landing, later known as Scott's Ferry and then Scottsville.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Dr. Stinson Attends to His Practice

Dr. L. R. Stinson, 1908 Date:  1908

Image Number:  B13cdB13

Comments:  The trusty horse and buggy served Scottsville well as its primary means of transportation before 1910.  In this photo, Dr. Luther R. Stinson rides out of Scottsville to tend to a patient.  Born across the James River in Buckingham County, Virginia, Dr. Stinson graduated from the University of Virginia Medical School and set up his Scottsville practice.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


The Hatton Ferry, ca. 1910

The Hatton Ferry, ca. 1910 Date:  ca. 1910

Image Number:  B69cdB16

Comments:  Located on the James River near Scottsville, the Hatton Ferry began operation in the late 1870's and is shown here as seen from the Buckingham County shore in 1910.  Hatton Ferry continues operation today and is one of the last two poled ferries remaining in the United States.  See the larger image as a guide to the passengers' names.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


The Scottsville Bridge

North to Scottsville from Buckingham Date:  1912

Image Number:  RollOneNeg23A

Comments:  The wooden bridge over the James River to Scottsville was erected in 1907 and is shown here from the Buckingham County side of the river.  The bridge replaced the 162-year old Scottsville Ferry, and soon horses and buggies and automobiles clattered together across its wooden planks.  See the larger image as a guide to points of Scottsville interest.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


"Auto Endurance Test" on Valley Street, 1914

Auto Endurance Test on Valley Street, 1914

Date:  1914

Image Number:  RollTwoNeg20A

Comments:   The first car in Scottsville was this 1910 bright-red Maxwell, owned by Dr. L. R. Stinson.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Train Watching at Scottsville Depot

Train Watching at Scottsville Depot Date:  ca. 1914

Image Number:  Roll4Neg9A

Comments:   The James River Division of the Chesapeake and Ohio, built in 1881, was of great importance to Scottsville as it hauled freight, passengers, and the daily mail to town.  A purely Scottsville amusement in the early 1900's was watching the train go by.   As shown here, it was common to see a good-sized group of townsfolk strolling down to the depot with Postmaster Gault to meet the Number 11 from Richmond and pick up the day's mail.   See the larger image as a guide to the names of these town citizens waiting on the platform at Scottsville Depot.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Rural Mail Carriers in Scottsville, 1915

Rural Mail Carriers in Scottsville, 1915 Date:  ca. 1915

Image Number:  B15cdB13

Comments:  Four rural mail carriers pose in front of the Scottsville Post Office on a crisp fall day.  See the larger image as a guide to these men's names.

 
 
 


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Passenger Train from Richmond

Passenger Train from Richmond

Date:  ca. 1915-1916

Image Number:  RollTwoNeg19A

Comments:   The passenger train from Richmond made four trips daily to Scottsville in 1915.  The last passenger train stopped in Scottsville in 1956, and the C&O depot was closed in August 1977.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Getting Off the 'Cars' from Richmond

Getting Off the 'Cars' from Richmond...

Date:  ca. 1920

Image Number:  H174cdE3

Comments:  Riding the 'cars' in 1920 was still a popular mode of travel, as shown in this photo at Scottsville Depot. Burgess captured the William Day Smith family arriving on the Richmond passenger train.  Note the throng of townspeople gathered at the depot to watch the train arrive, a Scottsville custom that may date back to the late 1800's when seeing 'cars' drawn by a steam engine was a sight to behold.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


Paving Route 20 to Charlottesville, 1921

Paving Route 20 to Charlottesville, 1920 Date:  1921

Image Number:  Roll4Neg3A

Comments:  The road (Route 20) between Scottsville and Charlottesville was known as the Road of the Presidents in the 1800s because Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe often traveled over it.   In those years, the trip between the two towns was arduous and bone-jarring as the macadam used on the road was a thin, poor tar mixture that soon broke up under heavy wagon traffic.  Then rains would further plague travelers as they slid around on the rutted, muddy road.  This photo shows the paving of Route 20 with concrete by the Maloney Paving Company in 1921, the first road in the county to be paved with the use of state funds.   See the larger image for the historic significance this event had on Scottsville commerce.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


The Nicholas Section Crew, 1931

The Nicholas Section Crew,  1931 Date:  April 1931

Image Number:  FS01cdFS01

Comments:  The Nicholas Section crew maintained the six-mile section of Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad track just east of Scottsville.  During the Depression, each crewmember worked 40-hour weeks and earned $3.26 a day.  Their work was physically demanding, and danger was a constant companion.  See the larger image for more information and the names of Nicholas Section crewmembers.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum


'Gang' Makes Railroad History Come Alive, June 04, 2003:

The Buckingham Lining Bar Gang, June 04, 2004 Date:  June 04, 2003

Image Number:  Not available

Comments:   Four members of the Buckingham Lining Bar Gang visited Scottsville Museum for oral history discussions.  Shown in this photo are: (L to R) John Laury, Charles White, Francis Austin, and William Neighbors.  These four gentlemen are part of a group of 10 re-enactors, who live and breathe the traditions of old time Virginia railroad workers.  Through their railroading demonstrations, singing, and storytelling, the Gang offers a unique perspective on American life.  See the larger image for more information and the names of the Gang members.


Copyright 2001 by Scottsville Museum




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Copyright
© 2001 by Scottsville Museum