From its earliest development, the Town of Buchanan was the principal crossing of the James River via the "Great Valley Road" and other regional transportation networks. In the 1740's the earliest traces of the Great Road
crossed the James River at Looney's Ferry, whose approximate location is marked with an historic highway marker south of town. Annual events and historic reenactments take place throughout the year. A self-guided or guided tour is available through the town's office. As one of the earliest settlements west of the Blue Ridge, the town of Fincastle was established as the county seat of the newly formed county of Botetourt in 1772. A log courthouse was erected, replaced later by a brick courthouse, believed to have been designed by Thomas Jefferson. A guided walking tour is available through Historic Fincastle Inc.
For a list and pictures of the historical markers throughout Botetourt County, please visit Marker History.
Botetourt County Historic Museum
The Botetourt County Historic Museum serves as a repository for hundreds of artifacts and treasures that interpret the the unique history of the county for visitors.
1 West Main Street, Fincastle
Open Monday - Saturday 10 AM-2 PM
and Sunday 2-4 PM
The Fincastle Museum is located in the James Matten Early Cabin. The Fincastle Museum displays the "Schools of Fincastle" from the private schools of the 18th century to the free, public schools of today. Also in this exhibit are photos of early businesses in the town of Fincastle.
Murry Street, Fincastle
Open by appointment only
Hunter's Raid Civil War Trails sites can be found in the town of Buchanan. Confederate General McCausland personally fired the covered bridge in the face of Hunter's advancing army. After setting the fire McCausland swam across the James River to safety as Union soldiers fired upon him. The stone pilings of the bridge still stand.
Carved out of Augusta County by an act of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Botetourt County, Virginia was established on January 31, 1770. Extending from its gateway at the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley and continuing on to the Mississippi River, the county covered all or parts of seven present day states when it was first established. Early travelers (mostly Scots-Irish, and then Germans), following the Great Road settled in the fertile valleys and hills, where food and other natural resources were plentiful. Descendants of many of these early families still live in the county. The county seat of Fincastle was established in 1772 along a crossroad of the Great Road and a log courthouse was built in 1773. The town of Pattonsburg (near present day Buchanan) was established in 1788 along the James River (near the first ferry crossing in the region, Looney's Ferry, which was established in 1742).
Early Iron mines and furnaces were operated in Botetourt because two key ingredients of the iron industry iron ore and limestone were abundant here. During the early to mid-1800s, most iron furnaces used nearby iron ores and charcoal made from the surrounding forests. Iron was used to make farm machinery, tools, and wagon wheels. During the Civil War, iron was produced to make Confederate cannons and other weapons, but the iron furnace industry declined after the war. Today, many of these turn-of-the-century Iron Furnaces in Botetourt still stand but are found on private property. Roaring Run Furnace, found on public land in the National Forest can be view in its original glory.
Roaring Run Furnace, a 19th century iron furnace on National Register of Historic Places. Interpretive signs explain furnace operation. The National Forest website has a section detailing the history of the furnace.
450 Roaring Run RoadState Road 621, Eagle Rock
Botetourt is a hotbed for genealogy. At one point Botetourt County stretched as far west as the Mississippi River and encompassed all or parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois with Fincastle the county seat. There are still primary source documents that exist from landholding during this time period in the Count Clerks office in Fincastle. The county's genealogy club holds an annual genealogy fair each year in October where visitors are introduced to all that there is to research in Botetourt.
Botetourt County Clerk's Office
Genealogists from around the country find original, primary source documents in the Botetourt County Circuit Courthouse.
Fincastle Library Genealogy Room
The Fincastle Library Research Room also has a fine collection that includes family history books, Virginia County books, cemetery information, and books on Virginia history.
11 Academy Street, Fincastle
Historic Walking Tours
Historic Fincastle Inc.
Guided tours of the Historic Town of Fincastle. Visit local churches, historic sites, and hear the story of fabled Fincastle. There is a fee for the tour.
20 West Main Street, Fincastle
Town of Buchanan
The Downtown Redevelopment Coordinator will tour your group through downtown Buchanan and highlight Civil War Trail sites, tour local churches and detail the history of Buchanan. This tour is free.
19753 Main Street, Buchanan