Skip to main content

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Buchanan

Situated along the banks of the James River in Botetourt County, Buchanan is considered "The Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley."  Home to roughly 1,200 residents, Buchanan is one of several small towns along US 11 throughout the valley.

The town was established in 1811 and incorporated in 1832.  It is named after Colonel John Buchanan. Across the James, another community was founded, Pattonsburg. Pattonsburg was named after one of Buchanan's contemporaries, Colonel James Patton.

Pattonsburg was settled first in 1788.  A century later, the two communities merged into the current-day town of Buchanan.

The Buchanan Swing Bridge.

Connecting the two communities over the James has always been a priority.  First connected by a toll covered bridge in 1851, Buchanan and the former Pattonsburg are now served by two bridges - a standard concrete highway bridge built in 1938 carrying US 11 and a unique pedestrian swing bridge.

The Buchanan Swing Bridge Park - featuring the Buchanan Swing Bridge and the Main Street Bridge carrying US 11.

The Buchanan Swing Bridge, which also dates to 1938, is a beloved local landmark.  The pedestrian walkway was constructed at the request of Buchanan's mayor, C.W. Blount, to maintain pedestrian access to the Pattonsburg side of the James.  

The bridge uses the piers of the 1851 covered bridge - which burned down during the Civil War -  and the footer of a former iron bridge that crossed the James from 1897 to 1938.  Today, the bridge is a popular stop with area visitors and features a small park on the south bank of the James.

Kayak launch along the James River in Buchanan.

Buchanan is home to many recreational opportunities.  The James River is popular tubing, kayaking, and fishing location.  The town's proximity to the Appalachian Trail - four miles to the east - and Blue Ridge Parkway make it a popular destination for hiking and exploring nearby waterfalls.

Buchanan boasts that visitors do not need to drive to Washington, DC every spring to see the Cherry Blossoms.  The colorful blossoms boom in the area in late March and early April.  Most of the trees are located in the center of town.

All photos taken by post author - May 2023.

Sources & Links:

How To Get There:

Site Navigation:


Popular posts from this blog

Dillon Road

Dillon Road is a 34.2-mile highway located in northern Coachella Valley of Riverside County, California.  Dillon Road begins at Avenue 48 on the outskirts of Indio and ends to the west at California State Route 62 near San Gorgonio Pass.  Dillon Road was developed the 1930s as a construction road for the Colorado River Aqueduct.  Dillon Road serves as a northern bypass to much of the development of Coachella Valley.  Dillon Road is known for it's frequent dips and spectacular views of San Gorgonio Pass.   Part 1; the history of Dillon Road Dillon Road was constructed as a haul road for the Colorado River Aqueduct through Coachella Valley.  The Colorado River Aqueduct spans 242 miles from Parker Dam on the Colorado River west to Lake Mathews near Corona.  Construction of the Colorado River Aqueduct began during January 1933 near Thousand Palms and was made functional on January 7, 1939.  West of Berdoo Canyon Road the alignment of Dillon Road is largely concurrent with the Colorado

Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road

Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road is an approximately 21-mile highway located in southeast Kern County.  Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road begins at Tehachapi Boulevard (former US Route 466) in Tehachapi and crosses the Tehachapi Mountains via the 4,820-foot-high Oak Creek Pass.  Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road enters Antelope Valley of the wider Mojave Desert and passes by the historic stage station of Willow Springs to a southern terminus at Rosamond Boulevard.  Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road has historic ties to the Havilah-Los Angeles Road and Stockton-Los Angeles Road due to the once reliable presence of water at Willow Springs. Part 1; the history of Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road Oak Creek Pass and Willow Springs were known to the local tribes of the Tehachapi Mountains for generations.  The first documented European crossing of Oak Creek Pass was during 1776 as part of an expedition by Francisco Garces.  Oak Creek Pass is as used again by John C. Fremont during an 1844-1845 expedition to e

The 1928 Iowa Hill Road Bridge

The 1928 Iowa Hill Road Bridge is a derelict structure located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Placer County, California.  The 1928 Iowa Hill Road Bridge can be found between the communities of Colfax and Iowa Hill.  The 1928 Iowa Hill Road Bridge is a wire suspension structure which spans the North Fork American River.  The 1928 Iowa Hill Road Bridge was replaced by a modern span and converted to pedestrian use following floods during 1963.   Part 1; the history of the 1928 Iowa Hill Road Bridge During 1853 gold was discovered at what to become Iowa Hill.  The gold mining claims soon led to a small community known as Iowa City being established.   By 1854, Post Office Service began at the mines of Iowa City.  By 1856 gold production at Iowa City was estimated to be around $100,000.  Iowa City was burned in fires during 1857 and 1862 but the community was rebuilt with more modernized structures.   The location of Iowa City can be seen as "Iowa Hill" on the 1873 Bancroft