Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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Site MBR01: Shot Tower Historical State Park
Elevation: 1964 ft. The New River Trail State Park centers itself around the Shot Tower, which was built in the 1800s by Thomas Jackson. The Shot Tower was originally used to manufacture lead shot for muskets and muzzle loading shotguns. Because lead required a 150-foot drop to properly form a shot, the tower stood 75 feet tall with a 75-foot shaft below. Lead shot manufacturing is an example of a commercial venture of the nineteenth century in southwest Virginia. Today, this site is designated as a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. For outdoor lovers, this is an access point for the New River Trail State Park. Shot Tower is located at milepost 25.2 from Pulaski, as the trail meanders past the Jackson Ferry, traversing mostly through riparian woodlands. Wooded embankments are chiefly composed of poplars, magnolias and oaks, with occasional elms, beech and sumacs interspersed. Heavier canopy behind the shot tower houses Baltimore oriole, American redstart, white-eyed and warbling vireos and yellow-throated warbler. Numerous red-eyed vireo, indigo bunting and eastern phoebe can be found flitting along this riverine woodland trail. In the moist undergrowth of this heavily wooded forest, look for the dazzling ebony jewelwing damselfly. Occasionally, other dragon- and damselflies may be found safely perching on tree trunks, as well. As the water corridor cuts through southwest Virginia, it should be a good place to find migrant thrushes, tanagers, warblers and vireos in spring and fall. Over 24 species of warblers have been found here during migration, including blackpoll, cerulean, Cape May and palm warblers. Year-round, one can also expect to find green heron and belted kingfisher, but look for more avian fauna on the river during migration.
From I-81, take Exit #81 onto I-77; follow I-77 South 7.8 miles to Exit #24. Turn left onto SR 69 East and travel 0.3 miles to US 52. Turn left onto US 52 North; travel for 1.4 miles to Rt. 624. Turn left onto Rt. 624/Shot Tower Road and continue for 0.1 miles to the parking lot.