Reading the water


Most of the groups who work on the Rivanna have a wealth of printed and online information about the Rivanna, but for sheer history, nothing tops Mr. Jefferson’s River, a book about the Rivanna by William E. Trout and Minnie Lee McGehee. A resident of Palmyra, McGehee and her husband Henry were largely responsible for persuading the Virginia legislature to designate the Rivanna as the state’s first scenic river in 1973.

“She really is the godmother of the Rivanna,” says Rivanna Conservation Society President Angus Murdoch of McGehee. Her book is a loving tale of the river’s past, starting with Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to open up the Rivanna in 1763 up until the year 2000, and as such, it is a must read for those who want to learn the extensive history of the river. “My frequent trips along the Rivanna,” she writes, “by canoe and on foot, have revealed much of the history and life of the river, and I continue to search for ways to preserve its beauty and its story.”