These works undertaken, or fostered by the commonwealth, however use-
ful, are but of minor character when compared with the important enter-
prize on which the government of Virginia has long deliberated, of draw-
ing a fertilizing portion of the commerce of the Western States, to her
eastern cities. Of this enterprize so long meditated and so fully discussed, we
find the following account given in a memorial addressed to the General
Assembly in 1826. " The Legislative Declaration, that next to the enjoy-
ment of civil liberty itself, it might be questioned whether the best organ-
ized government could assure to those for whom all governments are in-
stituted, a greater blessing than an open, free and easy intercourse with
one another, by good roads, navigable rivers, and canals ; that their ten-
dency, by extending commerce, promoted the agriculture of a nation, and
thereby augmented its wealth and population; â€” satisfied us that these
great interests of Virginia were no longer to be neglected, and that as many
of the other States Ave re advancing in wealth and numbers with a rapidity
which had astonished themselves, the ancient and elder sister of the Union
would remove the reproach of her remaining stationary."
"This manifest determination of the Legislature to improve the vast ad-
vantages possessed by the commonwealth, seemed to be based on consid-
erations of so fixed and durable a character, that but little doubt was en-
tertained by your memorialist of the achievement of the great work of
connecting the eastern and western waters of Virginia, by navigable canals
and turnpike roads of the most permanent construction, when water con-
veyance was unattainable, this measure had entered largely into the views
of the proprietor of the land on which the City of Richmond and the town
of Manchester now stands, and as early as the year 1767, was adverted
to by that distinguished individual, in his proposition for the sale of the
306 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF
lots of those towns, in strong and prophetic terms. The practicability
and vast advantages of opening this line of communication to the western
frontier of the middle colonies, were dwelt upon as matters of great inter-
ests the future prosperity of Virginia. Our Washington was scarcely disen-
gaged from the toils of ihe camp, when turning his capacious mind to the
objects tending to promote and secure the public happiness, made a com-
munication to Gov. Harrison, in which the incalculable importance of con-
necting the eastern and western waters of Virginia, was enforced with
zeal, and supported by considerations combining the present with the
future, which must have resulted in the immediate undertaking of the
work, but for the exhausted state of the Treasury. Our venerable Jeffer-
son, partaking in the view of bis distinguished friend, and equally desirous
of improving and exalting his native State, made an effort to secure to this
great work the influence and active direction of the father ot his country ;
deeming its magnitude sufficient to invite his superintendence, and its com-
pletion the happiest monument of his retirement."
"The continued interest manifested by our citizens in almost every quar-
ter of the State, and the improved condition of the Treasury, induced the
Legislature in 1813-14 to organize a commission for exploring and re-
porting on the practicability, utility and expense of effecting this long con-
templated connexion, and for ascertaining the best means of securing to
Virginia a due participation in the rich trade of the West. The report of
our distinguished fellow-citizen, the Chief Justice of the United States,
with that of other gentlemen designated with him to perform that duty,
fully realized the previous anticipations, and furnished the strongest induce-
ments for the execution of the work. The war with Great Britain, in
which we were then engaged, however, compelled its postponement. The
conflict over, the government of Virginia resumed this interesting sub-
ject, and after various examinations of all its details by the most experi-
enced engineers, and with the fullest development of all its branches, by an
act bearing date the 17th February 1820, determined upon the execution
of the entire work, from the tide water of James river to the confluence of
the Kanawha and Ohio, providing by law for the completion thereof in
the following order. 1. To render the Great Kanawha navigable at all
seasons of the year, for boats drawing three feet water, from the great falls
to the Ohio river. 2dly. To improve the navigation of James river, from
tide water to Pleasant's Island, by locks and navigable canals, affording at
all seasons of the year, at least three feet depth of navigable water. 3dly
To make the best road practicable, at an expense of $100,000, from the
mouth of Dimlap's creek, to the great falls of Kanawha. 4thly. To make
navigable locks and canals, from Pleasant's Island to Dunlap's creek, fur-
nishing at least the same depth of water for the entire distance. A mea-
sure so important in its influence over the future destinies of the State ;
originating with the sages of the country, the fathers of the land; sustain-
ed and approved by the Avisdom of successive Legislative bodies; its prac-
ticability demonstrated by the combined science of the best qualified engi-
neers, could not but be regarded as irrevocably determined on ; the period
of its completion to be hastened by all the resources of the commonwealth.
Such were -unquestionably the convictions of the Legislature of 1819-20,
and of your memorialist."
Notwithstanding the previous determination of the Legislature, and the
strong inducements presented for reanimated action on the part of the gov-
WESTERN VIRGINIA. 307
eminent, eight years of plans and deliberations have passed by. One
project after another has been proposed, considered and abandoned, while
two short sections of canal on the margin of James river, and the abortive
attempt to improve the navigation of the Great Kanawha, remains the
monument of that indecision and procrastinating policy, which has stripped
the commonwealth of her elevation in the family of States, and is so rapid-
ly sending her people to seek new homes, where the "blessings next to
civil liberty" are not only proclaimed, but practically secured. While the
pen is tracing these brief notes, the General Assembly is engaged in de-
liberations upon this subject ; but whether their labors will result in another
abortive attempt to put this work in progress, or in the provision of ade-
quate means for its entire execution, on a scale of usefulness and durabili-
ty, worthy of the ancient commonwealth, and commensurate to the advan-
tages which it ought to confer on her sister States, is extremely doubtful.*
If Virginia should ever resume this great work with ardor and reason-
able unanimity ; and pursue it with constancy of purpose to its final com-
pletion, it must produce a new era in her history, and entirely change the
destiny which now seems to await her.
Among the high considerations that so strongly prompt her to the em-
ployment of her resources and credit in achieving this great work, the fol-
lowing are perhaps the most prominent.
The certain participation in a large portion of the commerce of the
west, the value of which is attested by the expenditures and efforts of other
States to become partakers. The development of her exhaustless mineral
resources, and the consequent extension of important manufactories into
every section of the country. The giving to her agricultural and planting
interests the highest stimulus â€” the creation of a rich and fertilizing inte-
rior commerce, sustaining in return the most extensive foreign trade. The
rapid increase of her population with the comfort and wealth which must
attend them â€” and the speedy and permanent advance in the value of the
entire landed property of the State. Those of a political character are
scarcely less important. Its connecting influence upon the States them-
selves and upon the two great divisions of Virginia, now hanging but
loosely together, must be apparent to all, and if the Union is ever destined
to crumble, such a line of intercommunication, with the connections and
associations to which it must give rise, cannot fail to unite in the same des-
tinies, the southern States, and those of the Great Valley of the Missis-
â™¦Since this was written, the Legislature passed the act allowing the patriotic and
enterprising corporation of Richmond to take $250,000, in addition to their previous
subscription of $400,000, and taking the remaining $500,000 for the State ; by which
acts the whole amount of $5,000000 is subscribed, which was necessary to secure the
charter of the James River and Kanawha Company, and the successful prosecution
of this great work ensured.
Alleghany was created by the legislature in 1822, and formed from
portions of Bath, Bottetourt and Monroe. It is bounded N. by Bath and a
small portion of Greenbrier, E. by Rockbridge and Bottetourt, S. by Mon-
roe, and W. by Greenbrier; its mean length is 26 ms. ; mean breadth 20 ;
and area 521 sq. ms. It lies between lat. 37Â° 35', and 38Â° N. and the cen-
tre about 3Â° W. long, from W. C. Most of this county is a high mountain
valley, drained by the head -waters of the James river. Pott's and Dun-
lap's creeks rise in Monroe and now N. E. until they unite with Jackson's
river near Covington, about the centre of the county. Jackson'' s river rises.
in Pendleton, and flowing S. through Bath, enters Alleghany, passess the
gap between Peter's and the Warm Spring mountains, receives Pott's creek
from the S., and then turns first N. E. and then after turning the N. E.
flank of Rich Patch mountain, it flows S. E. into Bottetourt. Cow-Pas-
ture river rises also in Pendleton, flows by a tortuous channel, nearly due
S. through Bath and Alleghany, and unites with Jackson's river, soon after
it passes into Bottetourt. These two rivers by their union constitute the
James. Much of the surface of this county is covered with mountains; its
mean level exceeds 10,000 ft. above the tides of the ocean. The main Al-
leghany chain forms its boundary on the W. Peter 1 s mountain and Warm
Spring mountain divide the county into nearly two equal parts, having only
a narrow gap at Covington. Pott or Middle mountain and Rich Patch,
form its boundary on the S. E. Besides these continuous ranges, there
are a number of others filling up the intervals, such as Oliver, Morris,
Beard's, &c. The staples of the county are grain, and its products gene-
rally the same as other counties situated in the same latitude. Population
in 1830, 2,816. It belongs to the 17th judicial circuit and 9th district.
Tax paid in 1833, $473 \5â€” in 1834 on 'lots, $39 26â€” on land, 8273 42
â€”348 slaves, $87 00â€”926 horses, $55 56â€”2 studs, $13 00â€”7 coaches,
$12 00â€” 5 carryalls, $5 00â€” 2 gigs, $1 00. Total, $488 24. Expended
in educating poor children in 1832, $87 00â€” in 1833, $166 47.
TOWNS, VILLAGES, POST OFFICES, &c.
Calahan's P. O. 196 ms. from R. confluence with the Cow Pasture,
and 238 ms. from W., situated at the! and directly opposite the termination
junction of roads leading to the; of the Kanawha turnpike road. Tt
Warm, Sweet and White Sulphur! contains besides the county buildings,
Springs. 50 dwelling houses, and about the
COVINGTON. P. V. and Seat[same number of mechanic shops.
of Justice, 191 ms. W. of R. and 233; The buildings are principally of
S. W. of W. Covington is situated atj brick, and in some of them much taste
the head of the James river navigation ! is displayed; 2 handsome and spa-
on Jackson's river, 15 ms. above its' cious houses of public worship are
WESTERN VIRGINIAâ€” ALLEGHANY,
about being- erected, (1 Presbyterian
and 1 Methodist,) 1 English and
Classical school, and 3 mercantile
stores. The mechanics are tanners,
saddlers, boot and shoe makers, hat-
ters, tailors, gunsmiths, house carpen-
ters, cabinet makers, wagon makers,
copper smiths, chair makers, black-
smiths and last makers. Its situation
is handsome and eligible, on one of
the greatest thoroughfares in Virgin-
ia, as travellers from E. to W. pass
through this place to the Virginia
Springs, it being nearly equi-distant
from several, viz : â€” 20 ms. from the
White Sulphur, 22 from the Sweet
Springs, 25 from the Hot Springs, 27
from the Warm Springs and 45 from
the Salt Sulphur. Should the con-
templated James and Kanawha im-
provements be carried into operation,
Covington may become one of the
most flourishing inland towns in Vir-
ginia, as it will probably be the place
of depot between the land and water
communication ; and it likewise will
command the trade of a large and fer-
tile region of country, which abounds
in all the products of the earth; and
the mountains, of which abound in
iron, and present sufficient water
power, to force any quantity of ma-
[chinery. Its situation is healthy,
being located in the midst of the
mountains. Property in this place
has lately advanced 25 per cent in
anticipation of the contemplated im-
provement. Population about 300
persons; of which 3 are attorneys,
and 2 regular physicians.
County Courts are held on the
od Monday in every month. Quar-
terly in March, June, August and
Judge Taylor holds his Circuit
Superior Court of Law and Chance-
ry on the 18th of April and Sep-
Jackson River, P. O. 178 ms. N.
of R. and 221 S. W. by W. of W.
Morris Hill, P. O. 184 ms. W.
of R. and 227 from W.
Augusta county was originally a portion of Orange county and contin-
ued so, until it became sufficiently populous to claim the rights of a sepa-
rate, independent county, which rank was given to it in 1738. The first
court after it was laid off from Orange was held in Staunton, in the year
1745, and its jurisdiction extended from the summit of the Blue Ridge to
the Ohio river, including the present state of Kentucky, and from the James
river to Frederick.
As the population increased, it became necessary to divide this immense
tract into various counties, at different times, until it assumed its present
shape and size in the year 1790.
The summit of the Blue Ridge forms the eastern boundary, until it strikes
the line of Rockbridge, the line then runs a straight course in a N. E. di-
rection, crossing the North mountain, until it reaches the summit of Walk-
er's mountain, following this and the Cow Pasture mountain in a N. W.
course, it strikes the corner of Rockingham, and runs thence in a S. W.
direction, a straight course to the Blue Ridge.
The length of Augusta county is about 34 ms. ; the breadth 35, â€” and its
area about 348 sq. ms. extending entirely across the Valley. The surface is
generally uneven, â€” in many places hilly ; and in some instances it rises
into eminences that deserve the name of mountains. Towards the north-
ern boundary, however, it spreads out into more extensive bottoms of very
310 WESTERN VIRGINIAâ€” AUGUSTA.
rich and fertile land. The soil is best adapted to agriculture and grazing*.
Large quantities of grain are raised for exportation, and there are within
the county, 17 merchant mills, which are almost exclusively employed in
manufacturing flour for this purpose. Cattle are also exported in conside-
Although this county is well watered and abounds in fine springs, there
are no very large streams, from the fact, that it is the highest land in the
Valley, and divides the head waters of the James and Shenandoah rivers.
The great Calf Pasture river runs through nearly half of the county,
and wends its way in a S direction to the James river, while the north,
middle and south rivers, (the last two of which run nearly through the
whole extent of the county) meet near the northern boundary, and form the
Shenandoah. Christian's and Lewis' creeks are branches of the Middle
river, and Mossy creek of the N. These streams are all valuable, on ac-
count of numerous mill seats upon them, which are always abundantly sup-
plied with water.
The mineral treasures of this county, have been but partially developed.
Very little interest has been felt on this subject, except so far as it has been
quickened by a hope of gain. Iron ore beds have been known and profita-
bly worked for many years ; and there is at present a furnace for the manu-
facturing and casting of iron in active operation: Miller's Iron Works,
near the northern boundary, at the foot of the North mountain.
Anthracite coal has lately been found in the vicinity of the Augusta
Springs, and along the North mountain. It contains a portion of sulphur,
though it becomes more pure as the excavation progresses, and gives pro-
mise of affording an abundant supply of this valuable mineral.
The predominant rock in this part of the Valley is lime rock, which in
some places is sufficiently hard to be used as marble, though it is not worked
as such. In connection with this rock may be found rhombic chrystals of
carbonite of lime, and dog-tooth spar : the latter rarely. In the vicinity of
Staunton, a species of calcedony in great quantities is scattered about: some
of which is very pure.
Springs are very abundant in all parts of the county, some of which are
mineral and highly medicinal.
The Augusta Springs are valuable, as a resort for invalids, and are daily
becoming more noted. They are 12 ms. N. W. of Staunton, situated in a
delightful country. The water is strongly impregnated with sulphuretted
hydrogen, and are said by those who should be judges, to equal the cele-
brated springs of Harrowgate, in England. Besides the Augusta Springs
there are two other Sulphur Springs in the county, both of which are equal-
ly strongly impregnated; but there are few, if any accommodations for visi-
tors at either of them. One is on the Free turnpike leading from Staunton to
the Warm Springs, 17 ms. from S. : the other on the old road, 18 ms. from
A Chalybeate Spring has recently been discovered very near the Augus-
ta Springs, but it has never been analyzed.
About 12 ms. S. W. from Staunton, is a large spring that ebbs and flows
daily;â€” there are two similar springs in Bath.
The whole of Augusta county is based upon lime rock, â€” and from the
nature of that rock, necessarily contains many curious fissures, excavations
and caverns. Only two of these, however, deserve a notice, Madison's and
Weyer's cave's which are both situated in the same ridire. and are but 200
WESTERN VIRGINIAâ€” AUGUSTA. 31 i
yards apart. Madison's cave has been described by' Jefferson,* in his notes
on Virginia, but Weyer's has been described and explored since that time,
and is far more worthy of being immortalized. The length of this this stu-
pendous Cavern in a straight course is 1650 ft., but the distance is more than
doubled by following the various windings. There are numerous apart-
ments, some of which are magnificent. One measures 257 ft. in length, from,
10 to 20 in breadth, and 33 in height, â€” another is 153 ft, long, 15 wide, and
60 high, while a third reaches the height of 100 feet ! Every part is stud-
ded with beautiful stalactites, that lead you almost to believe that you have
descended into the jewelled fruit garden, where hung Alladin's lamp.f
Â» i â€” i .. â€” -. - ,.. â€” â€” . â€” â€” â€” â€” â€¢ . - i â€ž ^
* We extract a portion of Mr. Jefferson's description which is referred to in the
text, and give also some later information concerning Madison's Cave. " It is situat-
ed on the N. side of the Blue Ridge, near the intersection of the Rockingham and
Augusta line, with the south fork of the southern river of Shenandoah. It is in a
hill of about 200 ft. perpendicular height, the ascent of which, on one side is so steep
that you may pitch a biscuit from its summit into the river which washes its base.
The entrance of the cave, is in this side, about two-thirds of the way up. It extends
into the earth about 300 ft., branching into subordinate caverns, sometimes ascending
a little, but more generally descending, and at length terminates in two different
places, at basins of water of unknown extent, and which I should judge to be nearly
on a level with the waters of the river ; however, I do not think they are formed by
refluent waters from that, because they are never turbid; because they do not rise and
fall in correspondence with that, in times of flood and of drought; and because the
water is always cool. It is as probably one of the many reservoirs with which the
interior parts of the earth are supposed to abound, and which yield supplies to the
fountains of water, distinguished from others only by its being accessible. The vault
of this cave is of solid limestone, from 20 to 40 or 50 ft. high, through which water is
continually percolating. This, trickling down the sides of the cave, has encrusted them
over in the form of elegant drapery; and dripping from the top of the vaults generates
on that, and on the base below, stalactites of a conical form, some of which have met
and formed massive columns."
Madison's Cave derives its name from the father of the late Bishop Madison, who
resided near it, and who was equally famed for his hospitality, his practical wit, and
his convivial disposition. It has been known 70 or 80 years, but is now little visited
as a curiositj r , â€” the earth in it, affords salt petre in proportion of from 2 to 4 pounds
to the bushel. â€” 2000 weight was manufactured here during the years 1813-4. The
earth when brought out is at the mouth of the cave put into a plank gutter which
conducts it to the bank of the river, at the bottom of the hill, where it is put into tubs
or vats mixed with wood ashes â€” water is passed through it, and this is evaporated to
salt by boiling. The lakes of water which are found at the extremity of the cave
have been navigated by a boat, and thoroughly explored, since Mr. Jefferson wrote;
they are 30 or 40 ft. deep, and are bounded on the furthest extremity by rocks so
abrupt that a footing can no where be had.
f Weyer's Cave is situated near the northern extremity of Augusta county, Va. 17
ms. N. E. of Staunton, on the eastern side of a ridge running nearly N. and S. parallel
to the Blue Ridge, and somewhat more -than a mile distant from it.
The western declivity of this ridge is very gradual, and the visiter, as he approach-
es from that direction, little imagines from its appearance, that it embowels one of
Nature's master pieces. The eastern declivity however, is quite precipitous and dif-
ficult of ascent.
The Guide's house is situated on the northern extremity of this ridge, and is distant
800 yds. from the entrance of the cave. In goinsf from the house to the cave, you
pass the entrance of Madison's Cave, which is only 200 yds. from the other. Madi-
lson's Cave was known and visited as a curiosity, long before the discovery of Wey-
er's, but it is now passed by and neglected, as unworthy of notice compared with its
more imposing rival, although it has had the pen of a Jefferson to describe its beauties.
The ascent from the bottom of the hill to the mouth of the cave is steep, but is ren-
dered less fatiguing, by the zigzag course of the path, which is 120 yds. in length.
It seems that about the year 1804, one Bernard Weyer ranged these hills, as a
hunter; while pursuing his daily vocation, he found his match in a lawless Ground
Hog, which not only eluded all his efforts but eventually succeeded in carrying off the
312 Western Virginiaâ€” augusta.
Population in 1820, 16,742â€”1830, 19,926. Augusta belongs to the
12th judicial circuit and 6th district. Tax paid in 1833, $6659 24 â€”
in 1834 on lots, $470 80â€” on land, $4,343 09â€”2,443 slaves, $610 75â€”
9,360 horses, $561 60â€”48 studs, $421 00â€”78 coaches, $187 85â€” 1
stage, $3 00â€” carryalls, $69 95â€”58 gigs, $39 15. Total, $6,717 19.
Expendedin educating poor children in 1832, $883 59â€” in 1833, $963 74.
traps, which had been set for his capture. Enraged at the loss of his traps he made
an assault upon the domicile of the drepredator, with spade and mattock.
â€¢ A few moments labor brought him to the ante-cbamber of this stupendous cavern,
where he found his traps safely deposited.
The entrance originally was small and difficult of access ; but tbe enterprise of the
proprietor, has obviated these inconveniences: it is now enclosed by a wooden wall,
having a door in its centre, which admits you to the ante-chamber.
At first it is about 10 ft. in height but after proceeding a few yards, in a S. W. di-