Behold the Rappahannock headwater

Photo by John McCaslin

Longtime Huntly area resident James “Mac” McGrail and Rappahannock News Editor John McCaslin hiked deep into the woods above McGrail’s property last week, where he pinpointed what he calls the origin of the Rappahannock River — a spring (seen here) bubbling up from the ground, trickling downhill, until becoming the river’s “source” stream flowing through McGrail’s land. In a letter to this newspaper last week, McGrail took issue with repeated claims that the famous river’s point of origin is closer to Chester Gap.

Many years ago, when Rappahannock, Warren and Fauquier county governments were clarifying their boundary lines, McGrail was informed that his entire property was in Fauquier — where he didn’t want to be. So he went to the National Archives, retrieved old land grant records that proved him right, and then threatened to file legal action against any government entity that tried to re-locate county lines to accommodate the idea that the river originates in Chester Gap. Wouldn’t you know the powers that be “bent” the Rappahannock County lines exactly around McGrail’s property, showing as he puts it that the origin of the Rappahannock River is not in Chester Gap “or even actually close to it.”

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