Percival's Island Natural Area
In front of you is the Percival's Island Natural Area, a mile-and-a-half-long refuge that is bisected by the RiverWalk Section of the James River Heritage Trail. The 56-acre island reflects centuries of natural and human expansion, development, and retreat.
At the western end of the island is a shallow rise in the river bottom that provided a crossing for Virginia Indians. Early European explorers followed these trails and named the crossing Horse Ford. In 1745, the island then known as Chain Island, was part of a 425-acre royal patent that colonist John Bolling II obtained. In 1750, Charles Lynch acquired Bolling's grant; Lynch's sons, John and Edward Lynch, established Lynch's Ferry just upstream to provide a safe, year-round crossing to replace Horse Ford.
The island is named for John Percival, who purchased it in 1820 from John Lynch, Lynchburg founder. Percival built his home here; in 1845, the property was sold to the Southside Railroad for its Lynchburg terminal. The Southside Railroad became part of the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad in 1870, which later became the Norfolk and Western Railway. A railway hub known as Island Yard operated here until 1964.
In 1991, Lynchburg purchased the island for use as a natural area. Percival's Island is home to a diverse assortment of ﬂora and fauna as well as ghostly concrete and iron relics of the past.
(lower left) Percival's Island, 1939 - Courtesy Norfolk Southern Archives, Digital Library, Virginia Tech
(upper right) Norfolk and Western Railroad train at Island Yard, 1898 Courtesy Norfolk Southern Archives, Digital Library, Virginia Tech
(lower right) Norfolk and Western Engine House, Island Yard Courtesy Norfolk & Western Historical Society
Lynchburg is a city rich in the history of Virginia and the nation. As with any city, some of our sites and buildings that reflect that history have changed over the centuries since Lynchburg's origins in the 1750s. You can see for yourself the city's historic places and how they have changed or remained intact. Just let the map guide you to the many historical markers that are located downtown. Enjoy learning about Lynchburg!The Lynchburg History marker program is a partnership of the City of Lynchburg Museum System, Dept. of Communication & Marketing and Dept. of Parks & Recreation, discoverlynchburg, Lynchburg Historical Foundation, and Lynch's Landing