Established in 1770, Botetourt County in Virginia's Blue Ridge is rich with history and heritage. During the early days of American history, the county line extended all the way to the Mississippi River and included all or part of seven present-day states! The Town of Fincastle was incorporated in 1772 and is still the county seat and home to the county courthouse, which remains a popular spot for visitors in search of genealogical information.
The Town of Fincastle features many structures that date back to the late 1770s and you can learn more about these classic buildings by taking part in the self-guided and guided tour options provided by Historic Fincastle, Inc. The tour includes information about how Fincastle is a nationally recognized Lewis & Clark Community, as well as the opportunity to see documents signed by Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and other historical figures.
Botetourt County also includes the Town of Buchanan, which served as a major crossroads with its iconic Swinging Bridge and canal & locks system for navigating the James River. The town's charming Main Street includes a historic movie theater, town park, classic soda fountain, local shops, and outdoor outfitter.
The Town of Troutville also served as an important shipping center in the 1890s and thrived with an active farming community, canneries, and factories.
To the north, the Town of Eagle Rock offers a rich history and stunning scenery and is a great place to paddle the James River.
Visit the Botetourt County Historical Museum to learn more about the history of the county and scroll down for additional information on local historic sites and educational opportunities.
- The Botetourt County Historical Society maintains the Botetourt County History Museum, located behind the Courthouse in Fincastle.
- The Museum is open from 10 am - 2 pm. Monday through Saturday and from 2 - 4 pm on Sunday.
- Membership in the Historical Society is welcomed. For information, contact the Historical Society, P.O. Box 468, Fincastle, VA 24090, or call 540-473-8394.
- Architectural Survey of Botetourt County, Virginia (December 31, 2008) (PDF)
- Historic Fincastle, Inc maintains an office in the restored Matten Early Cabin on Murray Street 540-473-3077. Membership is welcomed.
- Fincastle was founded in 1772 and named after Lord Fincastle, son of Lord Dunmore, Virginia's last royal governor. Antebellum churches, tree-lined streets, a courthouse designed by Thomas Jefferson, restored homes and a quaint village atmosphere makes it a wonderful place to visit. A walking tour is available.
- More than a dozen Botetourt sites (PDF) are on the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register.
Included are Breckinridge Mill near Fincastle, Callie Furnace near Glen Wilton, Nininger's Mill (Tinker Mill) in Daleville, Phoenix Bridge near Eagle Rock, Prospect Hill near Fincastle, Roaring Run Furnace at Roaring Run, Santillane in Fincastle, Wiloma near Fincastle, Wilson Warehouse in Buchanan and archaeological sites at Bessemer near Eagle Rock and at Looney Mill Creek near Buchanan. Locks, canal abutments, and tunnels from the James River and Kanawha Canal offer a look at the country's early mode of transportation. In Buchanan, the only swinging bridge that crosses the James River is on abutments that date back 150 years. Botetourt County also has stops along the Lewis & Clark Legacy Trail. Historic Greenfield is also home to historic structures and archaeological sites dating back to Colonel William Preston.
- Historical markers abound throughout the county, providing a glimpse of the past. One in Fincastle notes that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed from this frontier town when they were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase. Other markers point to frontier forts and sites of Indian raids.
- The county is also home to Olympian and civil rights activist Norvel Lee. This son of Eagle Rock, VA is recognized through a Historical Marker that will be erected in September of 2022.
Genealogists from around the country find original, primary source documents in the Botetourt County Circuit Courthouse at Phone: 540-473-8274, open Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Librarians in the Fincastle branch library also assist patrons with genealogical research Phone: 540-473-8339.
African-American History of Botetourt County
In 2004, through The Botetourt County-Wide League and a grant from The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Edward Wayne Barnett and Judith C. Barnett began an ongoing project of researching and documenting the Botetourt County African-American history. The research so far includes churches, schools, communities, businesses, organizations, family names, and the military (some no longer exist). For information on Botetourt County African-American history or if you have information to contribute, please contact Judith C. Barnett at Phone: 540-473-2082.
The Botetourt County-Wide League meets on the first Saturday of each month (except July) at 2:30 pm in the Family Life Center of the Fincastle United Methodist Church. For County-Wide League information, contact Curtis Brown at Phone: 540-977-1029.