James River Tributaries

     Historically, the James River was the life blood of Albemarle County, with Scottsville its settlement of primary importance. The James served as a major corridor for transportation and commerce. Today, this is a relatively quiet part of the County, compared to high growth areas in Charlottesville and along Route 29 North. Historic communities, such as Hatton. Warren, and Howardsville testify to traditional settlement patterns along the James. The abandoned canal and still-active railroad demonstrate two forms of transportation from different eras that used the James as their thoroughfares. Two others forms of transportation -- the historic Hatton Ferry and the modern Route 20 bridge in Scottsville -- offer a stark contrast as to how one can cross this broad river. On any given day, one can witness cars zipping across the Route 20 bridge, freight trains whizzing along the C&O, other cars bobbing slowly across the river on the Hatton Ferry, while johnboats, canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes take the most leisurely route of all.
     While the James River is not the route of commerce  it used to be, efforts arising from the Chesapeake Bay Program have heightened attention to the James in terms of its water quality and living resources. Virginia's Tributary Strategy Program has produced and is updating plans to meet target pollutant reduction goals for the James River as part of the overall Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. There are many opportunities to participate in this process: have a look at the James Tributary Strategy to find out more.
     The watershed identified on the map comprises the James itself plus other small streams that flow directly into the James (14 square miles of Albemarle County). However, the James River receives most of the water that flows through Albemarle County, either via the Rivanna, Hardware, Rockfish, Totier Creek, or Ballinger Creek watersheds. Instantaneous flows of the James near Scottsville can be viewed online.