Original Name: Augusta County
Botetourt County (pronounced Bot-i-tot) was created by an act of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1770. It is named after popular governor Lord Botetourt, who was regarded as the best of Governors and best of men.
Went it was first established, the county extended from its gateway at the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley and continuing on to the Mississippi River, the county covered all or parts of seven present day states.
Early travelers (mostly Scots-Irish, and then Germans), following the Wilderness Road settled in the fertile valleys and hills. Descendants of many of these early families still live in the county. The county seat of Fincastle was established in 1772 along a crossroad of the Wilderness Road and the Fincastle Turnpike. The town of Pattonsburg (near present day Buchanan) was established in 1788 along the James River.
The Botetourt County Museum, located in Fincastle serves as a repository for hundreds of artifacts that interpret the history of the county. Historical markers abound throughout the county, providing a glimpse of the past. One in Fincastle notes that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed from this frontier town when they were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase. Other markers point to frontier forts and sites of Indian raids.
From its earliest development, the Town of Buchanan was the principal crossing of the James River via the Great Valley Road and other regional transportation networks. In the 1740's the earliest traces of the Great Road crossed the James River at Looney's Ferry, whose approximate location is marked with an historic highway marker west of town. Annual events and historic reenactments take place throughout the year. A self-guided or guided tour is available through the town's office.
As one of the earliest settlements west of the Blue Ridge, the town of Fincastle was established as the county seat of the newly formed county of Botetourt in 1772. A log courthouse was erected, replaced later by a brick courthouse believed to have been designed by Thomas Jefferson. A guided walking tour is available through Historic Fincastle Inc.