Philip Cobbs drew us into the world of watermen, with a presentation that looked at different perspectives on the men—mostly African American—who “ran” the rivers in batteaux in the 19th century. These views ranged from the romantic (accounts by writers like George Bagby and David Hunter Strother) to the choleric (Thomas Jefferson enraged when his trunk of Indian vocabularies was stolen by a waterman) to the realistic (evidence about actual conditions of upstream and downstream travel). Philip ended his talk with an evocative photographic journey on the Rivanna River.
Archive for the ‘Rivers and canals’ Category
Brian Coffield of the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society gave a presentation on the history of river and canal navigation—from dug-out canoes to batteaux to river boats to railroads. His presentation covered the flexibility of these various modes of transport and also touched on the way that enslaved people were employed both on the boats and in the construction of these means of transport.