Living history: Scottsville unveils new park


The workers are tired. The clock is ticking. And they still have boats to build.

Scottsville officials are putting the finishing touches on Canal Basin Square, a little plot linking the town's historic status as a river port with its unbridled optimism for the future.

"I would really like to see this place used for field trips for the kids," says Mayor Stephen Phipps. "It's a great way for people to learn about Scottsville's history."

In the mid-1800s, Scottsville was a major port on the James River & Kanawah Canal. The new park is located on the site of the place where goods were unloaded.

Phipps, clad in khaki shorts and a white t-shirt, crouched on hands and knees last Sunday weeding under a bush in the Square which town officials, the Scottsville Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers have been planning for six years.

"Eighty-percent of it was funded by federal grants," says Phipps, "but the town has been very supportive of this project as well. This is really what kicked off a lot of the improvements Scottsville has seen."

The once-vacant lot has been going through a dramatic transformation this past year with the addition of a stage, educational exhibits, and eight giant brick-and-concrete pylons that will hold murals in the park's outdoor transportation museum.

Phipps, who anticipates great things for Canal Basin Square, is working furiously with a group of volunteers to pull the remaining strings together before the dedication Saturday at 2pm as part of Jamesfest, a two-day event celebrating the James River and Scottsville. Jamesfest activities will be going on all day long from morning until night.

[For more details about Jamesfest, see Family feature, page 27.–editor]

Thanks to the levee completed in 1989, the mayor probably won't need to add an "Isabel" notch to this flood list.

A batteau waits for history buffs.