The James River flows from the mountains through Lynchburg and Richmond to the coast. It is the largest river in Virginia and, historically, one of the state's most important transportation corridors.Before the Civil War, investors built a canal from Richmond to Buchanan, about 20 miles southwest of here. This canal, the Kanawha, made river transportation safer and more reliable. 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 the James River and Kanawha Canal obsolete. Today, this restored lock is a reminder of the colorful transportation history of Virginia and proof that not all mountain farmers lived in isolation.