The Annual Batteau and River Rat Powwow

Here are two more pictures taken last summer at the annual James Batteau and River Rat Powwow and Swap Meet.

The boat picture is of the batteau Daniel Boone—leaving port for another trip into the back country of Fluvanna County—to bring freight like Kerosine, gunpowder, saltpork and yard goods to settlers in the interior. It is said there are steep, inaccessible valleys deep in the interior of this remote region where dinosaurs still roam and Neanderthal cave dwellers huddle in their caves at night tending their fires to keep away the terrible sabre-tooth tigers prowling in the darkness just outside the fire light.

The portrait is of Dave Polci—a batteau river rat—a man who makes his living as a peddler and a deck hand poling the batteau up and down the mighty James River. If not for strong men like him the small settlements in the back woods of Fluvanna County—places that still do not have any electricity like Palmyra and Lake Monticello—would have no contact with the outside world. No mail, no salt pork, bacon, gunpowder or yard goods.

Both houses of congress have recently passed legislation that would provide funding for a gravel and dirt road to be bull-dozed into the interior to provide overland access (in the dry season) to these primitive river ports. It is anticipated that these settlements will have electricity before the decade is out and a unique way of life will be gone forever.

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