On any given visit to the James River park, there is a great chance that if you keep your eyes open, you’d see an amazing display of nature, a great landscape or scenery, or find an object that you can’t explain.
For example, my nephew found a very interesting rock at Pony Pasture Rapids Park that could have been used for cutting animal skin, fish, carving wood or making a dugout canoe. It fit perfectly into the palm of an adult hand and had grooves for a thumb or maybe even a rope. Could it have been used for cutting by Native Americans? Maybe the rock was none of those things, but it was fun imagining its potential uses.
What have you found on visits to the James River Park? A favorite memory of a sunset or nature scene? An encounter with an artifact? The perfect walking stick?
Do we take for granted these days how clean the James River is as it passes through Richmond, especially considering that it used to be an extension of the sewer system whenever it rained? That was a long time ago, but back then people didn’t swim in the river. Some environmental pioneers, like Newton Ancarrow, did their best to wake up Richmond to the neglected, polluted river.
According to data from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the water quality for the James River as it flows through the city rates well in tests for E. coli bacteria (except when the river levels are high due to heavy rains) at five key swimming areas: Pony Pasture, 42nd Street (Main Area), North Bank (Texas Beach), Belle Isle (Hollywood Rapid) and Tredegar Beach (Brown’s Island).
A few long-time James River photographers I’ve spoken with have lamented that they didn’t take photos of the bad things they saw back when the river was so polluted. Those photos could stand as a testament to how far the health of the James has progressed.
For many Richmonders, the James River is playground. Do you remember a time when the James was dirty and unsuitable for recreation? Do we take that for granted now? How important to you is it that the James is clean? How much time and effort do you put toward its upkeep?
For paddlers, the James River offers some of the best urban white water in the nation, from easy Class I rapids to Class IV. Named rapids within the Falls of the James include (class II unless marked): Pony Pasture, Powhite Ledges, Choo Choo, Cooper’s Rifle, Mitchell’s Gut, First Break, Approach, Hollywood (IV), VEPCO Levee (III), Second Break (IV), Southside (III) and Pipeline (IV).
Which section along the Falls of the James is your favorite for whitewater? What is your favorite boat (kayak, canoe, whitewater raft, other)?
[Photo courtesy Rich Young on Flickr.com]
Are you one of those types that goes to the James for a day of relaxation on the river and passes the time by making piles with the millions of smooth river rocks you can find in the Falls of the James?
What gives? I’ve heard that there is a rock for each person in your group that visited the river that day. For others, the rock piles and formations have religious or symbolic meaning. Most probably think it’s just cool to do, while others may consider the piles a nuisance. What’s the point? What do you think about rock piles at the river?
During the 2009 Richmond Folk Festival, I took a kayak trip down the James River from Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek. The best part of the trip was as we reached the area near the takeout and the Richmond skyline came into view, we could clearly hear the sound from the festival downriver. It was a great feeling as we stopped our kayaks against some rocks and just listened to the music.
The Richmond Folk Festival is happening again this weekend and the settings among Tredegar Iron Works and Brown’s Island highlights the James River. Paddlers could stop in the flat area between Belle Isle and Brown’s Island to listen and one of these years paddlers might be able to run down the James to the festival and takeout at Tredegar Beach, paddle in the Haxall Canal around Brown’s Island and then take a canal boat or paddle back up the Kanawha Canal from Oregon Hill to The Pumphouse…
Would you paddle to the Richmond Folk Festival? Would you paddle in the canal at Brown’s Island during concerts and events? It’s possible, just keep telling the City of Richmond that’s what you want!
-by Phil Riggan [Photo courtesy Rich Young on Flickr.com]
If you are a lover of the James, you’ve probably been on a date to the river. Seriously, it’s the perfect ice-breaker and a good way to get to know someone. There is no place that is more romantic, adventuresome and cost-effective than the James right? What are the best spots to take a date? Have you ever had a bad date at the river? Share your stories and opinions.
When talking about the James River downtown, people often tend to say that what Richmond really needs is some good restaurants on the river downtown overlooking the James. Well, we might not have many of those yet, but there are many restaurants that cater to the people who play hard on the river. Maybe Richmond needs to officially designate a few places that caters to customers to come in wet, dirty and in need of a shower.
After a long day of playing on the James River, where do you and your friends gather to eat? Manchester? Woodland Heights? Westover Hills? Stratford Hills? The Fan? Westhampton? River Road? Other? Do you just go home?