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Pamunkey fossil site

We traveled by canoe up the Pamunkey River. Approaching the confluence of the North and South Anna Rivers, there are 60 foot tall muddy bluffs spotted with mountain laurel. Mature hardwood trees try to hold their grip on the river bank while the constant river flow withdraws soil underneath. Occasionally the embankments give up their grip and collapse into the river, leaving sunlit amphitheaters – clayey gouges where songbirds practice while osprey and vultures circle and watch.

At a few spots, the river channel exposes buried history. Along one bend on the south side, the ends of planks from an old dock or corduroy road stick out from below 40 feet of mud that has covered up the remnants of Robert E. Lee’s path from Jericho Mills to Cold Harbor. Farther upstream, the soil turns harder and darker and in one place, millions of shelly fossil remains slowly wash out as ground water seeps through the dense matrix that captured them millions of years ago.


6 responses

  1. Roheenie

    You probably remember our old friend Ben Keys – and perhaps you also remember that the James around Surry County (specifically near Chippoaks Plantation) has “muddy bluffs” like these. We found many shark’s teeth (one of the guys found one the size of a dinner plate), but the most amazing finds were artifacts from the first colony – just across the river and a bit upstream. Ben owns the largest collection of artifacts from the First Colony – housed in the Smithsonian…..including a diamond ring!!

    May 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

  2. boatdog

    Yeah…. We’ve been to Chippoaks and want to go back. I really like the area around there – Sunken Garden – Claremont. I may even have some old shots from Chippoaks I can post.

    May 17, 2010 at 9:12 am

  3. I’ve spent some time in Claremont, but nothing beats that float on the Pamunk’. We had some luck fishing and critter watching. One trip in particular when Georgi was 7 months pregnant and we canoed overnight in the pouring rain.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm

  4. Ms. Frog

    I don’t know for sure but I was told that the wooden planks sticking out of the mud on the south bank of the Pamunkey (upstream from US301) were from a pontoon bridge.

    July 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

  5. does anyone have an answer for how long of a float it is from Old Ridge Road to the 301 Bridge . Old Ridge is the next bridge up from 301.

    July 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm

  6. J Moser

    There are no bridges on the Pamunkey above 301, the only bridges upstream are on the tributaries. On the North Anna, the next bridge upstream, I believe, is rt 30 at Doswell, and the float from there to 301 is very, very long. But I think you are talking about the bridge on the South Anna, and I haven’t done that particular float in several years. It used to be an easy day trip, maybe 4 hours if you are paddling only, maybe 7 hours or more if you are fishing. But, the big issue is that there are trees down that block the way and they change from year to year. There used to be a lot of trees down in the upper part on the South Anna that required some portaging. Water level is also a factor. But in any case it is an easy day trip under normal circumstances.

    July 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm

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