Mention a river in Virginia, and thoughts immediately go to history, especially this country’s settlement, establishment, and Civil War. Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac (doubtful). The establishment of the first permanent English colony, Jamestown, on the banks of the James River in 1607. The Battle of Yorktown near and along the York River, with the ensuing American victory, forcing the surrender of Cornwallis and the end of the Revolutionary War in the east. John Brown’s raid, a flash point that ignited the Civil War, at Harper’s Ferry on the banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The first full-scale battle of the Civil War at Bull Run. The numerous Civil War battles fought along the Shendoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains along its valley top and the river’s central role in Appalachian culture. And on and on.

This is to say nothing of the history of Native American peoples living in the area. Settlements found along the York River are some of the oldest ever found in the United States.

Speaking of ancient: The New River is among the oldest rivers in North America and may, in fact, be second only to the Nile River in the entire world. Existing before the mountain ranges now found here, the New River cut through those mountains as they formed and thus is the only major river on the eastern seaboard to flow north.

Despite this incredible riches of rivers—and the approximately 49,350 miles of river in the state—Virginia has no designated wild and scenic rivers.