‘Botetourt County Revisited’ a follow up to McClane’s first photographic history of the county

Debra McClane.book cover Debra Alderson McClane’s second book of images of Botetourt County’s past will be available beginning Monday.

“Botetourt County Revisited” is the second volume of local photographs in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. It displays the county’s history through vintage images and boasts more than 200 images showcasing the people and places that make Botetourt County legendary.

Botetourt County’s history is closely tied to its role as a transportation crossroads. This new pictorial history chronicles the area from its 18th-century trails and wagon roads, to what has long since transformed into today’s US Route 11 and Interstate 81.

Images highlight people who traveled along these earlier routes and some of Botetourt County’s inns and taverns, such as “Hotel Sam” Obenshain’s Blue Ridge Hall.

McClane also includes old postcards depicting old motels along US 11 and US 220.

“Botetourt County Revisited” shares the stories of the community after the Civil War, when the hardworking and industrious residents of Botetourt County returned to their respective communities to rebuild.

Soon the area prospered in agricultural, industrial and commercial pursuits. The book also focuses on how Botetourt has produced talented artisans and craftsmen, such as furniture maker Charles Keeling and coppersmith Porter Caldwell.

Through vintage images of the homes and farms of the Bolton family, the Stevens family and others, “Botetourt County Revisited” remembers and celebrates the significant impact these individuals had on building the county’s strong communities.

The book includes a chapter on Civil War history in the area, a group of images from Daleville College, historic family photos from numerous personal collections and images of old stores and gas stations.

Debra Alderson McClane is a Botetourt native. The Alderson family has lived in the county since John Alderson, a Baptist minister, arrived in 1770 from England.  Her family resides on the farm that has been in the family since the late-18th century.

McClane graduated from Lord Botetourt High School (1983) and attended the University of Virginia where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

In pursuing her love of history and interest in architecture, she returned to UVa to receive a master’s degree in architectural history with a certificate in historic preservation.

McClane has worked for national cultural resource management firms as an architectural historian conducting architectural surveys and historical research from Alaska to Florida and from Connecticut to California. Currently, she operates her own architectural history consulting practice in Richmond.

She is an active member of the Bon Air Baptist Church, the Westover Hills Neighborhood Association and the Fincastle Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

McClane’s first Arcadia volume on Botetourt County attempted to illustrate as many different areas of the county as possible. In this second volume, the author focuses on areas not discussed in the first and also illustrates some of the later 20th century history of the county that will be more familiar to younger county residents.

“This second volume on Botetourt County was inspired by the great outpouring of interest from the first volume,” McClane said. “I hope that this book generates as much interest in county history and will encourage people to view their own collections as historic documentation of their families and communities.”


“I waited a while to do a second book because I was not sure that there would be that much interest in more ‘old pictures’ or even if there were that many more interesting pictures out there,” McClane said in an email asking her about the book. “As soon as I started my research, though, I quickly learned that there were lots more photos out there and lots of generous people willing to share them.

“That’s what makes this book so special— although there are many photos from institutions, there are some very special images that individuals shared, such as Judy Deel’s family photos, Jack Rader’s picture of his dad in his garden, and Joe Obenshain’s picture of his sister shaking hands with Churchill,” she continued.

“In my first book I tried to show images of as many different areas of the county as possible. In this book, I focus a little more on the stories of the people associated with the places, the families, the businesses, enterprises that have made Botetourt what it is.

“I always have to show some image of the mountains or natural beauty— I have an image of the Appalachian Trail in the new book,” McClane added. “I also was able to include more recent history, such as things that I remember as a kid: the widening of Route 220, some of the old motels along Route 11.

“Mike Lee from Pico (Buchanan) was kind enough to share his vast collection of post cards of those hotels— he sells those as a business. So, while the first book tried to trace the history of the county, this one focuses a little more on places, people and things that many residents will remember,” McClane said.

“I feel great about this book. I am so grateful to the people who shared images and stories with me and just the overall encouragement I received along the way. I think it makes a good follow up to the first book. I really like the cover image— the kids at Town Branch— it makes me think of summers in Botetourt.”

“Botetourt County Revisited” will be available at area bookstores, independent retailers and online retailers, and through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online at http://www.arcadiapublishing.com.

Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States with a mission to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places.

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