The Cowpasture, Ft. Dickinson and Douthat State Park Tour

Douthat Lake in Fall
Douthat Lake in Fall
The Visitor Center
2696 Main Street
Hot Springs, VA 24445
Region Shenandoah Valley
Locality Bath
Phone: (540) 839-7202
Visitor Center: (800) 628-8092

From 1753 until 1758 when the British established control over Indian attacks, George Washington was responsible for the protection of hundreds of miles of Virginia frontier settlements of which Bath County was included. Washington visited Bath County in 1755-56 in order to tour the fortified homes and forts that had been built to offer settlers protection from Indians defending their hunting lands.

An historical mile marker identifies the presumed location of Ft. Dickinson on the Cowpasture as archeological evidence does not exist. One can only stand on the road overlooking the valley and guess as to which knoll would have provided a defensible position against attack.

Begin this drive in Millboro Springs at the intersection of Routes 39 and 42. Go south on Rt.42 to the historical marker for the fort. Adam Dickson came to the river valley in 1744 taking up 1,000 acres on the Cowpasture. His son John was an Indian fighter for 25 years, his family lands lying on the Shawnee path back to the Ohio. The Fort also became a meeting point for settlers and travelers heading west and a trading post for hunters and trappers coming from the Indian territory.

Continuing driving south on Route 42 where just beyond the Ft. Dickinson marker is Nimrod Hall, one of the few remaining buildings in Bath County with an 18th century log portion. Continue on Rt 42 into Alleghany County, west on 64/Rt60; exit Rt.629 north to Douthat State Park which is located in both Alleghany and Bath Counties. Developed in the 1930's as a Civilian Conservation Corps project, Douthat has a lovely lake with a sand beach, hiking trails and eating facilities. Take Route 629 out of the park which will return you through bucolic farmland and national forest to Rt. 39.

Last Updated: 2/11/2011 9:18 AM