Hurricane Camille blasted into the US mainland on the night of August 19, 1969. Camille was one of the worst natural disasters in Virginia’s history. There were reports of more than 25 inches of rainfall within a five-hour period. Nelson County received the brunt of the storm’s flooding. As communication networks were not in place or were knocked out, floods and landslides to trapped Nelson County residents as they slept.
Every year, many travel to Nelson county to learn more about the historic flooding that took place that night in 1969. Some have family who were involved in the floods or know someone who died, while others have recently learned about Camille and want a first-hand look.
Visitors to Nelson can take a self-guided tour throughout the county for a close-up look at where the historical flooding took place. Memorial markers have been placed to give more information, and there’s even a museum dedicated to preserving the memory of Hurricane Camille in Nelson County. It’s easy to take a drive around the county to see how the flooding has shaped the landscape.
Travelers can begin at the Oakland Museum in Arrington. Extensive exhibits include eyewitness descriptions of the storm, devastation, and recovery. In Lovingston, visitors can view the memorial plaque on the Nelson Memorial Library, which explains that funding from the book, Torn Land helped build the library as a memorial to the victims. Next door to the library is the Nelson Visitors Center, where travelers can obtain more information and a Hurricane Camille Interest Map.
The county courthouse in Lovingston features a memorial monument. Nearby, the Rt. 29 Bypass at Main Street served as the “command center” after the 1969 storm. Aircraft and helicopters landed on the highway, delivering relief and evacuating people in need. Joey Davis’ 1970 song, “The Bypass” is famously named for this section of highway.
On Davis Creek Lane and at Oak Hill Baptist Church and cemetery, mountain scars are still visible. A Hurricane Camille Marker is located in the Nelson County Wayside on Route 29. There is also a Camille historical marker at Rockfish Valley Trailhead. Here, the Rockfish river bridge was damaged.
Along the route 56 corridor in Tyro, there was a major washout of the Tye River that changed the course of the river itself. There is now a bronze memorial marker on the Tye River Bridge that is dedicated to the victims who lost their lives in Massies Mill.
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Last Updated: 08/18/2020
8230 Thomas Nelson Hwy
Lovingston, VA 229490.08 MI
c/o Nelson County Tourism
Lovingston, VA 229490.2 MI
8181 Thomas Nelson Hwy
Lovingston, VA 229490.26 MI
8241 Thomas Nelson Highway
Lovingston, VA 229490.29 MI
8230 Thomas Nelson Highway
Lovingston, VA 229490.3 MI