From Buena Vista, we returned to Roanoke via Interstate 81 to MP 120.
It was very foggy at the start, but had cleared up considerably by the time we reached the parkway.
Here, from an elevation of 2,170 feet, you can look down at a large granite quarry near Blue Ridge, Virginia a mile to the south.
By mid-morning, we were seeing beautiful skies once more,
but within an hour, it was once again looking like rain.
We had thought to eat our picnic lunch at the Peaks of Otter picnic area, but upon seeing a busload of school children there, decided instead to opt for a more private location. We had a tailgate lunch at a pull-off.
We stopped at a trailhead, but after a short ways, decided it was more rugged than we wanted to tackle, especially with the chance of rain.
At this point, we were near the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia at 3950 feet. The views were beautiful.
Every day on the Parkway has had its highlights for us. Today it was the stop at the James River.
Before the Civil War, investors built a canal, the Kanawha, from Richmond to Buchanan. Tow barges and packet boats, laden with flour, wheat, pig iron and dry goods made regular runs up and down the James.
The rapid expansion of railroads during the middle to late 1800s rendered commerce on the James River and the Kanawha obsolete.
A short walk over the river via a pedestrian section of the bridge leads to a restored section of lock is located at MP 63.
This lift lock, built in 1848 is 15 feet wide, 21 feet top to bottom, and 100 feet between gates. It raised or lowered boats 13 feet allowing them passage to and from the river.
Mules pulled the boats through the canal.
A long lever would have been attached here, as illustrated on the right, allowing the gates to be opened and closed by manual labor. The crank shown allowed raising and lowering of the sluice gates.
Water flowing from here to the river.
Looking back at the bridge
A few more miles took us to the Buena Vista Overlook, where we once again left the Parkway.