The History of the Rappahannock River

From the Central Rappahannock Regional Library

Fort Lowry and Raiders on the Rappahannock by Carroll M. Garne.
A study of the Confederate fort, whose construction south of Fredericksburg was ordered by General Lee in 1861. Fort Lowry was designed to protect the Rappahannock waterway and used mines to damage Federal vessels. Includes chapters on John Wilkes Booth's attempted escape through the nearby countryside.

Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River: Historic Gateway
by Paula S. Felder.
A brief introduction to Fredericksburg's colonial history as a port town.


Historic Resources along the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers from the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
"This material is based upon work under a cooperative agreement with the American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service, Department of the Interior." 158 pages. Includes maps.


Indian Sites below the Falls of the Rappahannock, Virginia by David I. Bushnell, Jr.
Bushnell was active in archaeological digs and anthropological field work at the beginning of the 20th century. His special interest was Native Americans. This publication of the Smithsonian Institution is 65 pages in length and includes 21 plates.


Landon Carter's Uneasy Kingdom: Revolution and Rebellion on a Virginia Plantation by Rhys Isaac.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian tells the tale of the Rappahannock River plantation owner with excerpts from his diaries. The incongruity of Carter's support of the American Revolution and the rebellious attitudes of his own slaves makes for thought-provoking reading.


The Island--Brown's or Scott's--Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1805-1924 compiled by Robert A. Hodge.
A chronological account of events on the island, based almost entirely on local newspaper articles. The island was often used as a place to stage entertainments.


The Rappahannock River: History, Nature, Recreation by Walter Nicklin.
A guide to the river's Civil War sites, ecology, natural history, recreation and outdoors opportunities. Has color maps, illustrations, and photographs.


The Rappahannock Scenic River Atlas: A Virginia Canals & Navigations Society River Atlas Project.
An overview of historic sites along the river. 31 pages.


Rebel Rivers: A Guide to Civil War Sites on the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James by Mark Nesbitt.
This book tells how to find historic sites by road and by boat. Includes maps.


The Shenandoah and Rappahannock Rivers Guide by Bruce Ingram.
"This book reveals the best angling spots, every rapid and access point, and where the best wildlife and scenery are found. Every chapter begins with an historical anecdote chronicling the fascinating past of the Shenandoah and Rappahannock. Heroes of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars come alive in the tangible setting of these rivers. The Shenandoah and Rappahannock Rivers Guide will help create your own history on the river with all the information you need to plan and enjoy your trip."


On the Web


Historic Port Royal
A historical sketch of an important colonial river town which, in its day, was the site of piracy, a rolling road, and a presidential assassin.


History of the Embrey Dam
The Free Lance-Star's timeline of events leading up to the destruction of the dam, from its beginnings in the 1850s.


John R. Swanton on the Virginia Indians
A reference to Indian tribes which were once prominent in the region.


The Rappahannock and the Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay Alliance has written an overview of the river's history, importance, and threats to its ecosystem.


Rappahannock River Civil War Maps
Look in the subject index under Rappahannock River to locate these historic treasures. Several include online, scalable images.


The Story of the Rappahannock Canal
The old canal, long disused, was once area leaders' hope for rich commercial profits. It also played a part in the Battle of Fredericksburg.


Tappahannock Walking Tour
Tappahannock, about an hour's drive south on Route 17, was an important port town along the Rappahannock. Numerous historic buildings remain.


Toll Bridge across the Rappahannock
Roy Butler wrote that quick history of the Falmouth/Fredericksburg bridges that includes his boyhood memories from the 1920s.

This webliography accompanies the Lunch With History lecture "The History of the Rappahannock River" presented by Erik Nelson of the Friends of the Rappahannock, on March 16, 2005.