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You Are Here: Home Page » Parkway Tour » Overlooks » James River Visitor Center

James River Visitor Center - elev. 649' (Milepost 64.0)

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Overlook Description

The James River crosses Virginia from the Alleghenies to the Atlantic Ocean.

Nearby at milepost 63.6 is the James River.

The James River has been a major transportation artery through Virginia for centuries. Although originally planned to provide a navigable waterway from the Great Falls at Richmond to the Ohio River, the James River and Kanawha Canal was destined to extend no further west than Buchanan. When completed in 1851, it was the primary commercial route in the state, measuring 196.5 miles long and incorporating 90 lift locks raising water levels more than 700 feet. Civil war, floods, and railroads spelled disaster for the canal, causing it to fail within the next 30 years.

Near the James River visitor center, visitors can see one of the restored canal locks. The James River/Otter Creek recreation area is one of five developed areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, and is located near two highway crossings, state routes 501 and 130. The area also has a campground, restaurant/gift shop, picnic area, and handicap-accessible fishing dock.


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Blue Ridge Parkway GuidebooksExcerpt adaptations from Blue Ridge Parkway Guide: Volume 1 (by William G. Lord), Blue Ridge Parkway Guide: Volume 2 (by William G. Lord), Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway - 3rd Edition (by Victoria Logue, Frank Logue, and Nicole Blouin). Copyright 1981 by the American Chestnut Foundation. Reprint by permission of Menasha Ridge Press.
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