Honoring a Friend on the River

The Honoring of a Friend on the River

The James River is full of life, history, and opportunities including the opportunity to forge special friendships.  In mid 2009 through the end of 2010 I enjoyed a brief but powerful friendship with Danny Jefferson.  Danny was a Chickahominy Indian, and a respected man of their Tribal Council and very active in the community.

He was direct and very observant and was the kind of guy that would teach you things when you didn't even know you were learning.  Something I'll never forget ... the evening of December 12, he called to say, "I saw you grow on the water this past year, I just want you to know that ... I saw you with my own eyes."  The next day, Danny walked on December 13, 2010.

He taught me a lot about bald eagles, but that evening after we talked I realized he taught me a few things about life along the way.  Now he will always be a part of who I am becoming.  I wanted to find a way to honor Danny on the River.  Something deep and spiritual because that was the kind of guy he was.

People always ask me where I run my eagle tours.  I always say on the James River between Deep Bottom Boat Landing and the Richmond Yacht Basin.  It's about a five-mile stretch, half of which is in the parts of two oxbows (Jones Neck and Hatcher Island) and the other half is the main river that connects them.  In that reach of river live five pair of resident bald eagles which happen to be the ones I follow most of the time.  That is the area Danny and I worked together.

I found a way to honor Danny Jefferson in my work.  I believe naming natural things gets you closer to them; it helps them become more familiar.  The stretch of the James River between Deep Bottom and the Richmond Yacht Basin now has a name ... I have started to call it, 'Jefferson's Reach'.  That is the exact area Danny 'reached' out to me and the lucky folks we carried out on the river on the Discovery Barge II.

Now when people ask where I work, I can proclaim Jefferson's Reach on the James.  Or when out on the river, I can let people know we are in Jefferson's Reach.  What a perfect segue into talking about history, eagles, and Virginia Indians.  -- Capt. Mike


The Photos Stories?  Top Right:  This is an image that always reminded me of Danny and the great history of the James River.  You can go back as far in time as you wish in this image.  The sunrise has not changed in eons.

Bottom Left:  This is a necklace Danny made and presented it to me on the Discovery Barge II, after a Capt. John Smith Watertrail tour.  The necklace is made of bones, beads, copper, sinew, wampum and the centerpiece is a 'scute' from an Atlantic Sturgeon. The rattail at the top is Danny's signature.  To learn about Atlantic Sturgeon, click here.