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Historic Lynchburg

The Packet Boat Marshall

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The Packet Boat Marshall

A painting of the Packet Boat Marshall at Andrew Jackson’s funeral

Packet boats were small boats designed for domestic mail, passenger and freight transportation on North American rivers and canals.  Used, starting in the 17th century in Europe, packet boats in the United States were drawn through canals by teams of two or three horses or mules.  Compared to overland travel, the boats cut journey time in half and were much more comfortable.

The finest packet boat to travel the James River and Kanawha Canal, ‘the Queen of the James’ cost between three and four thousand dollars. 90′ long by 14′ at the beam with an 11″ draft, she was solidly built with creosoted wood rib frames on 12″ centers inside a hand formed iron hull that measured 3/16th of an inch thick.  The cabin interior was paneled with Dominican Mahogany and divided into staterooms (separate for men and women) and a main dining salon which converted into an area for fold down sleeping berths at night and a kitchen in which to prepare meals.  The Marshall was able to transport up to 60 passengers at a time.  The Packet Boat Marshall carried passengers from Richmond to Lynchburg, charging $8 for the 33 hour trip.  It averaged four miles per hour.

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded, near Chancellorsville, VA on May 2, 1863.  His body was transported by train from Fredericksburg to Richmond to Gordonsville to Lynchburg.  The train arrived in Lynchburg, VA about 6:30 pm on the 13th of May at which time the remains were removed, placed in a hearse and a procession began to the Packet Boat Marshall Landing at Ninth Street and the Kanawha Canal (Behind what is now the Depot Grill Restaurant.).  The Packet Boat Marshall left Lynchburg about 10:00 pm for the final portion of the journey to Lexington, VA., Jackson’s final resting place.  This trip is what is most remembered about the Packet Boat Marshall.

In 1864, after being partially burned when General David Hunter’s army road through Lexington the Marshall was repaired.  General Robert E. Lee rode as a passenger in the late 1860’s.  In 1877 a flood breached the packet boat on the river bank above Lynchburg.  In 1900 Corbin Spencer came to own the beached packet and lived in it with his sister Mary.  In 1913 the Spencers survived a flood that washed away the wooden superstructure of the old packet.  In 1936 the metal hull of the Marshall was unearthed and prepared for placement in Riverside Park for Lynchburg’s Sesquicentennial.  Between 1970 and 2003 the remains of the Marshall hull lay neglected and exposed to the elements, resulting in severe deterioration.  In 2003 the Lynchburg Historical Foundation undertook steps toward the preservation of the deteriorating hull by building a roof over the artifact, which was followed by a structure to further protect the historical boat.

Packet Boat Marshall

The hull of the Packet Boat Marshall is stored in Riverside Park

Each June between 12-18 packet boats recreate the journey between Lynchburg and Richmond.  This reenactment demonstrates how the boats were used to transport tobacco and people between the two cities in the mid-1700’s until the late 1800’s.  If you would like to see the packet boats in the James River Batteau Festival this June, give us a call at 434-846-1388 to make your reservations now or book on-line.

The History of Daniels Hill

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Point of Honor

Point of Honor, in Daniels Hill

Beginning this month The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast’s blog will present the history of one of Lynchburg, Virginia’s Historic Districts, Daniels Hill, followed by descriptions and histories of a few of the houses that comprise that historic district.

This month we begin with the history of Daniels Hill, where The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast is located.

Daniels Hill takes its name from William Daniel, Jr., who once owned most of the peninsula of land between the James River, Blackwater Creek and modern-day Hollins Mill Road.  Daniel was a prominent antebellum lawyer, legislator and judge on the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.  He lived at Point of Honor and built “Rivermont,” the Greek Revival mansion on F Street.

Daniels Hill was first developed as a residential neighborhood in the late 1840’s, when Judge Daniel began subdividing and selling his plantation.  Most of what is now Daniels Hill was within Campbell County until 1870 when it was annexed to the city.

In the mid-1870’s Daniels Hill began a building boom that transformed the neighborhood from largely rural farmland to a bustling residential suburb.  Much of the growth of Daniels Hill was fueled by industries in its backyard.  The upper basin of the James River and the lower blocks of Cabell Street were major industrial centers from the 1850’s until well into the 20th century.  A tobacco factory, lumber yard and foundry are just a few of the businesses that called Daniels Hill home.  It was illegal to have duels within the city limits and Daniels Hill up until 1870 was outside the city.  Urban myth has many duels being conducted on the grounds of Point of Honor until the neighborhood became part of the City of Lynchburg.

Among Lynchburg’s historic districts Daniels Hill is unique for the diversity of its architecture.  Styles range from Federal to Italianate to Georgian Revival and Queen Anne.  Types include opulent mansions, modest working-class homes, rowhouses, servant’s quarters, churches, stores and factories.  As the wealthy white families moved to “suburbia” starting in the 1930’s wealthy black families (doctors, lawyers and business owners) moved into the neighborhood.  After the civil rights movement, these wealthy black families also moved to suburbia and the downtown neighborhoods fell into disrepair as the poor and undesirable elements moved into these downtown neighborhoods.  Today, Daniels Hill as well as many of the downtown neighborhoods are being restored and once again becoming the desirable.  Over the years dozens of homes were lost due to neglect, but today there is a real sense of pride in the residents of this neighborhood.  Many of the smaller homes were built by the owner’s of the larger homes.  These homes were for the household staff of the wealthy or for their workers at the foundry.  From the beginning, Daniels Hill’s residents were comprised of people from every socio-economic class.  Speaking of diversity, there were bootlegers, working girls (and brothels) and speakeasys in the neighborhood during certain periods of our history.

Cabell Street is the main street running through Daniels Hill.  Cabell Street was named in 1875 to honor Dr. George Cabell, who built Point of Honor in 1815 and lived there until his death in 1823.  Cabell Street was first paved with brick in 1895.  Dr. Cabell was Patrick Henry’s personal physician.  The city and neighborhood returned the street to its original brick, by removing layers of blacktop, in 2007-2008.  Today Point of Honor is part of the Lynchburg Museum and it is open to the public.

The core of Daniels Hill-one block on either side of Cabell Street from A to H Streets-was designated an historic district in 1976.

Next month we will discuss the history and story of our house located at 404 Cabell Street, the Watt’s house.