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270 Years in 5 Paragraphs? Here Goes...

Established in 1745 on the north bank of the great 'horseshoe bend' of the James River, Scottsville served as the County seat of Albemarle until 1762, when it was relocated to Charlottesville, 20 miles to the north. But the young river town did not die away; with its advantageous location, it grew to become an important trading post. At the time, navigation on the "muddy ol' Jeems" was the main mode of transportation, and travelling upriver was the quickest way for settlers to get to the interior of the new Nation. The completion of a towpath/canal system along the river between Richmond and Lynchburg really helped speed up batteau 'traffic'. Also, a wagon route was established which started in Staunton, crossed the Blue Ridge at Rockfish Gap, and wound its way through southern Albemarle County before ending in Scottsville. Just about anybody or anything going between the fall line and the Alleghany Mountains, and most of the export crops grown in the southern Shenandoah Valley's rich soil, passed through this bustling place first known as "Scott's Landing".

The Town incorporated in 1818, and population steadily increased for the next twenty years. In 1835, it was home to 600; then grew to a peak of 1000 in 1841. But the crude roads linking Scottsville with farther-off settlements couldn't sustain the wagon trade, and agricultural freight could now be moved faster and more cheaply by the new railroad which went through Charlottesville. The decline in canal boat shipping was accompanied by a population loss- down to 666 by 1850.

1861 saw another, sudden drop in the number of inhabitants, as all of the young (and not-so- young) men left to join Confederate regiments at the start of the Civil war. Just before the end of the conflict, thousands of Union troops swept through Scottsville, burning its manufactories and warehouses and destroying the canal locks. It took several decades for the Town to recover from such utter devastation, and it never regained the level of commerce it had previously. By 1890, Scottsville's population was just 362.

In the early 20th century the town came again to relative prosperity, and a bridge across the James linked it to an expanding highway system and the larger world. It had its own schools,and a thriving business district provided most all of the goods and services the local populace required. Many families called Scottsville home for several generations. But the James River continued to exert great influence on the fortune of the area, as it would regularly overflow its banks during heavy rainfalls. 21 TIMES between the 1870's and the 1970's, the floodwaters crested at MORE THAN 20' HIGHER than the usual low water level on the river (occasionally twice in one year!), bathing all of the downtown buildings up to their second stories. Townsfolk had long since begun to wonder if it wasn't time to pull up stakes and relocate to higher ground.

But in 1975, Scottsville's long-time Mayor, A. Raymon Thacker (now retired, and about to celebrate his 106th birthday!), secured Federal funding for construction of a dam and impoundment pond above the town and a levy along the riverbank. These projects were completed in 1990, and the Town no longer becomes waterloggeded during extreme weather events. The pond has recently been named, "Scottsville Lake", and is surrounded by the 63 acre Van Clief Nature preserve. Stocked with trout by the DGIF, the lake is open to all for recreational fishing, with the proper licenses, and this Spring one proud angler hooked a 25" rainbow! The levy, named in honor of ex-mayor Thacker, is now part of an expanding system of walking trails linking parks around town. It's the premier spot to catch the skyshow each evening at sunset, weather permitting, or gape at some wild graffitti on a passing coal train.

Thanks to Raymon Thacker, Scottsville can boast of numerous fine structures remaining downtown. Most have been 'repurposed'- the drug store is now a yoga studio, and the braid factory now makes beer. The town also has a small museum, weekly newspaper, Boy's & Girl's Club, cultural arts center, bookstore/coffeeshop, art gallery, and shops and restaurants to please most tastes and budgets. Thenearby countryside is spectacularly beautiful, dotted with farms, wineries, and gracious old estates. As residents of three adjacent counties come here for all manner of business and recreation, there's plenty of 'niche' markets just waiting to be tapped!

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