Owner of historic wingina property is epitome of pipeline opposition nelson news newsadvance.com electricity in costa rica


Gantt’s property currently consists of 800 acres of mostly forested land, through which about two miles of pipeline are proposed for installation. The centerpiece of the property is Gantt’s home, built in 1840, which he said is credited as the only original, full-size frame house that has been occupied continually by the Cabell family. Over the course of more than 60 years, Gantt has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his efforts to maintain the property, including renovations to the family home and plantings of 350,000 trees on the property. Roughly 35 to 50 acres of those trees would be cut down and could never be replanted, he said, if the pipeline runs through the property.

Three-quarters of a mile away lies what is believed to have been a semi-permanent settlement of Monacan Indians. Though the settlement is not directly on his property, Gannt has discovered many Indian artifacts such as bowls, tomahawks and axes. The village is about one-third of a mile from the pipeline’s proposed route.

“If an archeological or historic site is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, impact to it must be minimized,” the publication states. “It either will be excavated and studied, or the pipeline will be rerouted to avoid it.”

Company representatives have met with Gantt and asked to conduct a formal survey on his land, Wade said, adding representatives would walk the property with Gantt so he could show them pertinent historical, cultural and environmental reasons that would make the route inappropriate on his land.

Dr. William Cabell is widely recognized as the first European settler in what would become Nelson County when he arrived in 1738. He held the original grant of the farm for 4,500 acres, Gantt said, and was the first in the line of many politically significant members of the family.

A cousin of Cabell’s, William H. Cabell, was the Governor of Virginia in 1805 and another cousin, John Cabell Breckenridge, was elected the youngest ever Vice President of United States in 1857. Dr. William Cabell’s grandson, Joseph Carrington Cabell, was a key component in helping Thomas Jefferson place the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Today, Cabell Hall on the grounds is named in recognition of those contributions.

Much of the 60,000 acres floated away under debt and taxes of Reconstruction — but Gantt’s grandmother held onto what she could before the land eventually was divided between all of the children. Anna Perkins was a widow who made $270 a year teaching in the first public schoolhouse in Nelson — a schoolhouse that her father had built and given to the county. She paid off the $3,000 that her husband left her in debt and raised her two sons, William Andrew Horsley Gantt and Henry Perkins Gantt.

Dr. Horsley Gantt, Andrew Gantt’s father, eventually went on to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Horsley became interested in Rock Cliff and began reassembling the pieces back together in 1929 until he had finally bought back the last piece in 1975.

“It’s a tremendous disappointment to all the efforts we have made. I can’t tell you how depressed I am about it, and it’s unnecessary because it could be built on land that is already destroyed,” he said, referring to land along the canal bed on his property or along Interstate 64.

“Dominion has shown no inclination to use lands already destroyed such as power lines, public right of ways, etc,” Gantt said. “Instead, they have chosen to go through private citizens’ back yards, most likely because the ‘little people’ are easier to kowtow than bigger entities, whether private or public.”

“We are working very hard to find the best route, so we encourage every landowner to provide us access,” he said. “If [Gantt] has reasons to believe that there are historic resources, then he should allow us to see them — whether it’s a canal or something else on his property.”

As for co-locating a pipeline with interstates, Wade said those typically are unfavorable locations because the construction process requires 125 feet to work within. In order to accomplish that along an interstate, hillsides would have to be cut into, he said.

Gantt, who was a director on the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District for 12 years as well as on the original board of directors for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said he is not against pipelines if they are run on previously destroyed land, such as power line rights of ways, rather than running through landowner’s backyards.

“I feel so strongly about this,” he said. “It’s uncalled for and unjust. The pipeline is going through some 200 properties of people who have their lives established here. They can’t say no, it’s so hard to say no. It’s an enormous effort to say no.”