Summer substitutes for the Maury River

Josette Corazza

The city of Lexington recently began demolition on the dam at Jordan’s Point Park. Visible from the pole houses, this dam has made the Maury River the slow-flowing summer destination for swimmers, shers and boaters for over 100 years. If you plan to stay in Lexington for summer research or other reasons and are already mourning the loss of the town’s favorite place to oat, never fear. There are plenty of other beautiful and refreshing natural pools all within an hour’s drive from campus.

As a Lexington native, I have spent many hot summers days on the Maury and almost always see fishermen perched along its banks. If you enjoy the sport and willmiss your favorite shing spot on the Maury, load up your gear and explore a new site. From June 16 to September30, you do not need to hold a fishing license to cast a line at Irish Creek, South River or Mill Creek. Lake Robertson, only a 15-minute drive from campus, stocks largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish and channel catfish. The lake is also a fantastic boating destination.

The James River, a 30-minute drive from Washington andLee, stocks largemouth and spotted bass, channel catfish, flat-head catfish and various other sunfish species. It is a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking. Twin River Outfitters, right along the water, offers a great deal for 1.5-mile tubing along the Upper James. You are chauffeured to the drop-off point, equipped with large and sturdy tubes andleft to enjoy a leisurely oat down the river, hitting five gentle but entertaining rapids.

If you are simply looking to swim and stretch out beside the water, Goshen Pass is a beautiful mountain gorge popular with locals. It is about a 20-minute drive from campus and has surrounding hiking trails, picnic tables and the iconic nearby swinging bridge.

Panther Falls is another favorite. Nearly 30 minutes from W&L, the swimming hole features a rushing waterfall and two tall rock shelves that act as diving boards. A typical summer’s day will find the falls packed with visitors from all over Virginia. Usually less populated, Falling Spring in Covington is 45 minutes from campus and features a breathtaking 80-foot waterfall. There are swimming holes above and below the falls, which are one of the largest in Virginia.

Any of these destinations would make for a memorable summer day nearby Lexington. Many students rightly feel saddened by the removal of the Maury’s dam and the ac-companying changes it will bring to swimming, shingand boating, but they may not realize that there are many fantastic alternatives just waiting to be discovered. Pack a picnic lunch, leave your phone at home and spend summer exploring all the wonderful waterworks Virginia has to offer.