By Jay Young, Photo by Matt Sloan, Video by Jon Vickers

In the Fall of 1812, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Marshall, led a survey expedition by batteau to map a proposed commerce route connecting Virginia with the Ohio River Valley. That vision, which Marshall inherited from George Washington, didn’t come to pass until the late 1800s, when C.P. Huntington, who was fresh off his completion of the Great Pacific Railroad, constructed the first train route through the New River Gorge. (Come On In, the Water’s Weird told the story of the re-enactment of his journey.)

Though the water commerce route the young nation chose followed the Potomac River instead, Marshall’s journey is the first recorded successful descent of the New River Gorge by boat.

In 2012—to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Marshall’s historic run—a group of young men with a grant from National Geographic Young Explorers retraced the Marshall route in a batteau they built by hand up Virginia’s James and Jackson Rivers, over the Alleghenies by trailer, and then down the Greenbrier and New Rivers. In so doing, they made the first successful batteau run of the Lower New River Gorge in more than 100 years.

To call the run of the Mary Marshall dramatic would be an understatement.