Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 47

Odd Marshall Expedition
MORE ON THE
CANALS OF
VIRGINIA

There is a wealth of additional
information on the waterways of
Virginia from the Virginia Canals
& Waterways Society. As their
website asserts: "History, exploration, archeology, 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." vacanals.org

Despite the fact that the railroad ultimately doomed the James River and
Kanawha Canal, and bolstered by a
National Geographic Young Explorer's
grant, Virginia native Andrew Shaw
decides to retrace Marshall's route in
commemoration of the expedition's bicentennial. With the help of five close

friends, he reconstructs a batteau, compiles atlases of the various waterways,
and sets out from Powhatan, Virginia,
poling up the James River.
As a three-time veteran of the Virginia Canal Society's yearly, week-long
Batteau Festival (celebrating early-19thcentury trade routes), Shaw had served as

crewman on a number of trips downriver
from Lynchburg to Richmond. It was on
one such venture that he heard Bill Trout
tell of the Marshall expedition. An avid
whitewater kayaker and outdoorsman,
Shaw was dumbfounded.
"The fact that John Marshall, at 57
years old, got on a batteau, poled upstream to the source of the James River,
crossed the Alleghenies via a team of
oxen, and then went down the Greenbrier and the New River Gorge sight unseen-that's unbelievable," says Shaw.
"So I started considering retracing the
route as a tribute to the vision of the bold
men dedicated to forging a lasting and
successful political entity from a group of
rebellious colonies."
When it was all said and done, upon
reaching the mouth of the Kanawha
River in Fayette County, West Virginia,
Shaw and company had followed in Marshall's wake, cart-tracks and boot-prints,
traveling a touch over 360 miles.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

47


http://www.vacanals.org

Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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