After months of blogging on various topics, it makes sense to revisit our roots, to redefine exactly what 35 Mile Drive is all about!
Truth be told, the 35 Mile Drive Association is many things. We are artists, musicians, restaurants, farmers, bed & breakfasts, wineries, tours, living history, historic sites, parks, river adventures, museums, realtors, gourmet food providers, hunt clubs, taxidermists, farmers markets, special events, publishers, designers, writers, photographers, landowners. The best thing about such a thing is we are a sum of our parts…offering a unique snapshot of the destinations, activities and culture that best represent Goochland County, Virginia.
We celebrate the hospitality and tourism industry in Goochland and promote our region as a getaway-for-the-day destination for the surrounding Richmond area.
Want to know more about our businesses and destinations? You can visit our website at www.35miledrive.com , subscribe to this blog, follow us on twitter @35miledrive and soon will be able to find us on facebook. We have logo decals available for purchase, details coming soon.
We have many artist friends who have embarked on a “painting-a-day.” We thought that sounded like a good challenge… so coming soon, we will be doing a “blog-a-week!” Each blog will feature one of our members. Be sure to check in regularly to see what’s new on the 35 Mile Drive!
What is 35 Mile Drive? Literally 35 Mile Drive is another name for River Road West, a scenic Virginia byway in the Richmond, Virginia area. The stretch of road in question runs 35 miles through Goochland County. Some highlights from the road….things to do, places to see, right in Richmond’s back yard.
Let’s start at the Henrico/Goochland county line and head west.
Tuckahoe Plantation- Thomas Jefferson’s boyhood home. He attended the one roomed school house still there and open to visitors. Could it be that TJ’s appreciation for architecture and domes was inspired by the domed schoolhouse ceiling? Like many a historic property, Tuckahoe is believed to have a few supernatural residents. A popular destination for filmmakers, you could say that Tuckahoe is Goochland’s Little Hollywood. Today, Tuckahoe has a farmer’s market on Sunday afternoons during the summer, selling their grass-few beef, eggs and other seasonal items.
Mother Mary of the Church Abbey- Since 1994, it has been the home of fifteen monks living in the Benedictine tradition. It is also houses the Shroud of Turin Center, a workshop destination for scholars and the faithful. There is a gift shop with monk-made items like sweets, jams, honey, textiles and a bookshop. Also, it is home of Benedictine Academy and the Bobby Ross Field. Ross (class of ’55) is a famed football coach and inductee into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Thistledown Alpacas- Goochland has a growing alpaca population. Several farms are open to the public.
Brookview Farm- A certified organic farm. 2007 Stewards of the Land, a national award by the American Farmland Trust! They sell their organic grass-fed beef through Lulu’s Local Food Co-op.
James River Work Center- The state farm. Home to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Greener Pastures Program. Rescued racehorses are given a second chance at life when their racing careers are over due to age, injury or performance. Horses are matched with offenders in a training program. Offenders graduate with a Groom Elite certification, giving them job skills to work in the horse industry. Many of the horses are available for adoption. It’s the only program of its kind in Virginia. Now home to 30 horses with 30 Groom Elite graduates! The TRF National President , Robin Williams, started the program and lives in Goochland.
You could say the state farm is Little Hollywood West. HBO’s John Adams was filmed here. Boston harbor and Braintree still sit waiting for a sequel perhaps on the Powhatan side.
Tanglewood Ordinary- A historic property family-dining Southern style! Fried chicken, anyone? Don’t miss their collection of Post magazines.
Tucker Park at Maiden’s Crossing- Goochland’s newest river park in development. Will be the site of a music ampitheater, birding platforms, trails, fields and primitive boat launch.
Brightly Bed & Breakfast- Historic B&B, one of only two in Goochland. Beautiful gardens.
Nadolski’s Butcher Shop- Specialty boutique butcher with locally sourced meats, specialty items, sausages, wine, beer and cheese. Home of many special events.
Goochland Courthouse- Built in 1826 by Cumberland builder Valentine Parrish and Dabney Cosby (a Staunton brickmason who had worked for Thomas Jefferson at UVA.) TJ’s influence is seen in the architectural details including the Tuscan portico, full Tuscan entablature, temple form and color scheme of red brick and white trim. Did you know, the brick wall was built around the complex to keep out wandering cattle!
White Hawk Music Cafe- Goochland’s musical metropolis! Combines music education (over 100 students in guitar, piano, voice, banjo, mandolin) with live performances and cafe food. A gathering spot with pickin’ parties every Thursday night, open mic on Tuesdays, and live music on the weekends.
Orapax- 700 acre hunting preserve for quail and pheasant. Customers come from over 39 states and six countries!!
Rapalee Taxidermy- Showroom open to the public, see dynamic mounts of over 100 animals from around the world.
Byrd Cellars Tasting Room- Sample wine from three local vineyards. Part of the 35 Mile Drive Wine Trail which includes Grayhaven Winery, Windsong Winery & Byrd Cellars.
Rassawek- Stunning property, home to the Spring Jubilee Heritage & Wine Festival May 21-22. Vineyard (Byrd Cellars) and village of reclaimed structures with historical value. Available for private rentals. Can see three counties and the James River corridor from the gazebo (formerly of 6th Street Marketplace!) Two restored log cabins, James Madison’s Montpelier greenhouse (now the wine tasting room,) music pavilion, ponds and trails. Named for the original Monacan Indian settlement along the river nearby.
Getaway to Goochland Courthouse Village and spend a day in the country at the 35 Mile Drive Courthouse Village Fair. Driving west from Richmond, enjoy the fall foliage and scenery on River Road West (aka 35 Mile Drive,) one of central Virginia’s most scenic drives through Goochland County.
Bring the kids, the dogs and and explore the Courthouse Village on foot (all .35 miles!) With live music, food, wine, beer, art, history, farm fresh produce, animals, a beautiful outdoor setting and Halloween festivities, the fair offers something for every age and interest.
Courthouse Village Fair highlights include:
Octoberfest at Nadolski’s Butcher Shop. 2913 River Road West, Goochland, VA 23063, (804) 556-4888. Wine, seasonal brews, fine food and live bluegrass music!
Arts on the Lawn. 2938 River Road West, Goochland, VA 23063. Discover unique original art in a variety of mediums including painting, pottery, textiles, photography, glassware, etc. Local businesses and organizations also exhibit.
Goochland Farmer’s Market. Grace Episcopal Church, 2955 River Road West. Shop for farm fresh produce, meats, flowers, baked goods and other items at the nationally ranked and final market of the season.
Monster Mash Music Fest. White Hawk Music Cafe, 1940 Sandy Hook Road. Goochland. (804) 556-3388. Costume contest and kids Halloween party from 4:00- 5:00. Live music, wine, beer and food that evening.
Cyclists and motorcycles welcome. Ride the 35 Mile Drive starting at the county line at Henrico through Goochland to the town of Columbia. 70 mile round trip over scenic rolling hills. Points of interest include Tuckahoe Plantation, James River overlook and access at Tucker Park at Maiden’s Crossing (Rte 522,) the Historical Society, Brightly Bed & Breakfast, the Courthouse Village Fair (restaurants, shops, coffee cafe,) Orapax Hunting Preserve, Westview on the James river access and picnic spot, Rapalee Taxidermy, Celebrations Winery, Rassawek, Point of Fork and Columbia. For a complete list of attractions and contact information visit our website at www.35miledrive.com
Interested in being an exhibitor at Arts on the Lawn? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an entry form and any additional information about the 35 Mile Drive Courthouse Village Fair.
The White Hawk Music Cafe is the current home of the 35 Mile Drive exhibit. Stop in to see the 18 original features which appeared in the Goochland Courier. www.whitehawkmusiccafe.com
Rossie & Sandy Fisher with Annie at Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia
The James River became personal when we came to manage Sabot Hill Farm in Goochland County, Virginia, in June 1979. The first thing I saw was a washed out corn crop due to flooding in the lowgrounds from Stoney Pond down to the old Sabot Station. From then on, I decided we would try not to plow too much with the moldboard plow to not have so much erosion. We also put a drain tile to help eliminate big puddles. This helped, but was expensive. We continued to farm the Sabot Island which was two feet higher and the crops were good there.
Local lore on how often the river flooded varied depending on who you talked to. Joe Scales, the local soil and water expert, said about every two years. My partners, Freddie and Bill Reed pretty much agreed with him, so we planted accordingly. We were really interested in getting as much crop as possible off those rich beautiful lowgrounds. The yields on corn and beans were almost double our poorer upland soils. We couldn’t help but notice that there was a line of water along the road between Chastain and Brookview Farm. Chastain flooded more easily than Brookview. We later learned that Bosher’s Dam’s influence (downstream in Richmond, Virginia) had slowed farming for anything east of Brookview.
We bought Brookview in 1972. During the 1980s, we had an irrigation pump and reel and, with a permit from the DEQ, pumped out of the beautiful but unpredictable river. We noticed that in July and August when our corn crop needed the most water, the river was lowest so we had to lower the pump and disturb the bank.
Another thing that needed studying was to fine tune the incidence of flooding. It seemed the river was coming out its banks at least once a year. Some small floods, two-three feet, were not bad for corn, but would cover a soybean crop. We liked soybeans which are a good nitrogen fixer for corn. After a couple of years, we planted just corn and hay. This time, in 1992, I sent away for as much information from the U.S. Corps of Engineers. They had a good data bank going back to 1900. We used 18 inches as a flood mark which would be damaging to soybeans or wheat or corn when it is young. The study took almost a year.
The frequency of flood was once a year with much greater intensity since 1970. This date matches more infrastructure upstream. Also there was no flooding during July and August. This led us to think about things like green beans which are 70 days. We thought about how we could plant them with equipment we had, but not harvest and sell, so we decided not to plant them.
Around 1995, Bill Reed of Chastain, tired of flood losses, began to look at a wetland mitigation bank. At Brookview, we had lost 150acres of wheat crop so we were also candidates. The flood had come in May and came up just barely covering the young wheat plants. We didn’t know that if water gets over the stamen line in the plants, then they are infertile. We went down to combine what looked like a good wheat crop and all the seed heads were hollow. That’s when we decided to also put Brookview’s lowgrounds in a mitigation bank. For the banks to qualify, we had to plant thousands of trees.
Freddie Reed at Sabot Hill realized the river’s flooding potential at this time and he and Hunter McGuire got the easily flooded Sabot Hill and Brookview Farm lowgrounds into the James River Mitigation Landbank. It has been very successful and the 500 acres plus are a great wildlife area. We are happy we have created a good nature preserve of upland hardwoods.
By Alexander M. (Sandy) Fisher, Jr. 2010
Today, Brookview Farm raises and sells all-natural, grass-fed and finished beef. Customers can purchase whole or half steers and select the cuts. Visit their website for additional information at www.brookviewarm.com or email email@example.com
Brookview Farm is a member of the 35 Mile Drive Association and an original feature in the newspaper series “35 Mile Drive- A River Road Runs Through It” which appeared in the Goochland Courier/ Central Virginian.