This historic James River town was originally called Scott's Landing. Scottsville was incorporated in 1818 at the northern most flow of the James River, an area known as Horseshoe Bend. The town's history closely links to the James River, serving first as a port for bateaux transportation and then as the terminus of the Staunton and James River Turnpike, which connected the James River with the Valley of Virginia. Later Scottsville became a center of Civil War activity.
The town "served as Virginia's westernmost center of government and commerce during the 1700s, when rivers were the primary means of travel in the new American wilderness." During the late 18th and the 19th centuries attempts were made to improve navigability along the James, as well as other central Virginian rivers. Part of this was the construction of a canal running roughly parallel with the James west from Richmond. Scottsville was the largest port town along this route, called the James River and Kanawha Canal.
The James River Batteau Festival makes a stop annually in Scottsville to celebrate the arrival of the authentic batteau replicas and period-costumed crew.
Visit the Canal Basin Square, a History park depicting the transportation history of Scottsville from the era of the Native American Monacan canoes to modern transportation systems. Emphasis is on the rich history of the batteaux and packet boat travel which occurred in the heyday of America's rivers and canals. The park is located at the original site of the James River and Kanawha Canal Basin.
Located near Scottsville, the Hatton Ferry serves as a seasonal crossing of the James River, the last hand poled ferry operating in the United States. The ferry runs each weekend through October on Saturday from 9 to 5 and Sunday noon to 5 and by special appointment. A ride on the ferry is a unique opportunity to experience times past; ferries have served Albemarle and Buckingham Counties since the mid-eighteenth century, and provided a means by which European settlers could communicate with other settlers and establish commercial ventures.
Be sure to visit the Scottsville's Confederate War Memorial Monument, proudly part of our Civil War Trails. Erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1914, the monument is a marble obelisk with crossed sabres on each side and an inscription on the face reads "Our Confederate Dead Who Died in the Hospitals of Scottsville 1861-1865"