The Feeder Ditch and Lake Drummond

The second stop of our Dismal Swamp Canal tour was the Feeder Ditch; directly across from the ditch’s opening is a mini-dock that was just the right size for Rode Trip.


Within minutes of securing the boat to the dock, Brian and I had hopped into our kayaks ready to paddle the 3.25 mile long Feeder Ditch. The Feeder Ditch was built in 1811/1812 and connects the canal to Lake Drummond, Virginia. A dam and spillway at the lake end assist in managing the canal depth during dry periods.


We had a beautiful paddle through the Feeder Ditch. Mirror images of the surrounding banks and trees were clearly reflected atop the tea-colored, still water. (The tea-color or amber color in the water is caused by tannic acids from the bark of juniper, gum, and cypress trees. These acids make it difficult for bacteria to grow in the water.) Turtles sat sunning themselves atop just about every exposed log or rock. Towering grapevines sweetly scented our route; yes, Brian sampled quite a few of the perfectly ripened grapes along the way. Soon we had reached the dam at Lake Drummond. Here, we hauled the kayaks onto the shore to walk them around the dam and launch them back into the ditch on the other side.


There is a small state park at the dam, part of the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge. There are well maintained docks for small boats. There are picnic tables, grills, and a ranger’s station. There is also a marine railway, or tram, used to haul small power boats or dinghies across the shore around the dam and into the lake side of the feeder ditch. The tram is out of order at this time. Here is a view of the lake side/topside of the dam.