Dockscaping Below the James River Fall Line: More Proof that Richmond is The Best River Town

     One of the goals when we bought our little boat, finally named “HATH-Away”, was to explore the many waterways within close proximity to our West End home.  Because our private put-in is around the corner on the Upper James River, most of our boating activities occur there.  This stretch of the James River is usually calm, and we now use the lovely docks featured here last year as landmarks when we are speeding by dragging friends and family on tubes, kneeboards and wake boards.

     We have ventured beyond the Upper James on a few occasions, but I have failed to photograph other views to share in what I like to call my on-going Dockscaping series.  The voyeur in me loves to see how people have landscaped their lands running to the water.  It reminds me of when my mother and I used to admire homes along the golf courses that we would play.  Inevitably we would be more delighted with those views than our scores.

     When we decided to put HATH-Away in downriver last week, I was determined to bring along my camera and see if the James River just south of downtown Richmond was worth recording.  It turns out that most of this stretch of the river through to Hopewell is as verdant and lovely as you can imagine.  While there are spots of industry and commerce that could use some prettying up, what a pleasant surprise to find a peaceful stretch of the River filled with blue heron within a stone’s throw of bustling Interstate 95.

     Our adventure began at Osborne Landing, an eastern Henrico County park that should delight the local taxpayers with its three easily-accessible boat ramps, loads of parking for vehicles with trailers, restrooms and playground and picnic areas.  Cruising west and north to pick up friends at Rockett’s Landing (the topic of an upcoming post), we were able to spy some waterfront homes sitting on heavily-treed lots on the northern bluffs overlooking the James.  I did a double take on spotting this dock and its surrounds.

Do you see those steep stone steps on the right?  I am dying to know the story behind this impressive piece of property.

     Just west and north of this unique boathouse is one of the most famous local estates built in the late 20th Century, Chaffin’s Bluff.  Though known to many as the home of the late Jimmy Dean, country music singer and sausage king, it does not appear in any photos that I can find, but when you are cruising on the James River there is no way to miss it or who its owner iswas.

Don’t you think that if his widow, Donna, did not want us to know that this was his home, this symbol would not be embedded in the lawn?

     Chaffin’s Bluff sits on a beautiful stretch of river though some sort of sand industry lies just up and across the river.  This peaceful compound is also home to Jimmy’s piano-shaped granite mausoleum.  Instead of Chaffin’s Bluff, he should have named his home after his first hit song, Bummin’ Around.

     There is nothing like bumming around on the James River.  It is the center of outdoor life in Central Virginia, and outsiders are finally getting the word.

You never know whom you might run into on the James River.

In fact, Richmond is one of Outside Magazine’s 10 finalists for “Best River Town”.  Support Richmond’s bid for this national recognition of our outdoor treasures by voting here until July 10, 2012.

     Hope you get the chance to get outdoors and bum around this weekend.

All photos by Avad Fan.

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4 Comments on “Dockscaping Below the James River Fall Line: More Proof that Richmond is The Best River Town”

  1. Stacia says:

    LOVE seeing these views of the riverbank that I’ve never seen!

  2. Avad Fan says:

    Sounds like an excuse for a girls’ cruise that doesn’t get rained out:)

  3. [...] A great way to spend a day on the James south of the falls line begins at the well-designed Osborne Boat Landing in eastern Henrico [...]

  4. [...] was the winner of its Best River Town in America contest, but we’ve known the truth about Richmond on the James for quite a while now.  Though softer than many of the adventures that Outside magazine tends to [...]


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