Jefferson's Reach

October 4, 2011.  It occurred to me recently that I should reiterate the story of Jefferson's Reach, a section of the James River that runs from the Richmond Yacht Basin, to Deep Bottom Boat Landing ...  a little over five miles of river.  With a little more detail, here is the story ...

The James River is full of life, history, and opportunities including the opportunity to forge a special friendship.  In the summer of 2009 through December of 2010 I was honored with a brief but powerful friendship with Danny Jefferson.  Danny was a Chickahominy Indian, and a respected man of their Tribal Council and very active in the community.

Danny was direct, very observant, and was the kind of guy that would teach you things when you didn't even know you were learning. Something I will never forget ... the evening of December 12.  He called and said, "I saw you grow on the water this past year, I just wanted you to know that.  I saw you grow with my own eyes."  The next day, Danny walked on December 13, 2010.

He taught me a lot about bald eagles, but that evening after we talked, I realized he taught me a few things about life along the way.  Now he will forever be a part of who I am becoming on the river as he has become a spiritual river guide for me.  Because of this deep connection, I wanted to find a way to honor Danny on the River.  Something deep and spiritual because that was the kind of guy he was.

It took a few weeks, but an idea came to me and I found a way to honor Danny Jefferson in my work on the river.  People ask where I run my eagle tours and I respond, "On the James River between Deep Bottom Boat Landing and the Richmond Yacht Basin."  It's about a five-mile stretch, half of which is in the parts of two oxbows (Jones Neck and Hatcher Island) and the other half is the main river that connects them.  In that "reach" of river five pair of resident bald eagles have their nests, which are the eagles I follow most of the time. 

This is the area Danny 'reached' out to me and the lucky folks we carried out on the river on the Discovery Barge II.  

I believe naming natural things gets you closer to them; it helps them become more familiar.  The stretch of the James River between Deep Bottom and the Richmond Yacht Basin is where Danny and I worked together and it now has a name ... 'Jefferson's Reach' ... named after a Chickahominy Indian man who reached out to many on the river.  

Now when people ask where I work, I can say more than the James River, I can say, "Jefferson's Reach." Or when beginning a history or bald eagle tour, I can start by letting people know they are in Jefferson's Reach.  What a perfect segue into talking about history, eagles, and Virginia Indians.  -- Capt. Mike

The Photos Stories?  Top Right: This is an image that reminded me of Danny and the great history of the James River.  You can go back as far in time as you wish in this image.  The sunrise has not changed in eons.  This image was taken from the Richmond Yacht Basin, just outside of my boat slip. This is the upriver end, or the beginning of Jefferson's Reach.  --Photo by Capt. Mike

Bottom Left: This is the necklace Danny made and presented to me on the Discovery Barge II.  He gave it to me after one of our Capt. John Smith Watertrail Tours.  The necklace is made of bones, beads, copper, sinew, wampum and the centerpiece is a scute from an Atlantic Sturgeon.  The rattail at the top is Danny's signature.  To learn more about Atlantic Sturgeon (and the local work being done for them), click here.  To learn more about the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, click here.  --Made by Danny Jefferson