FLOW Through LOW

January, 2021

On these pages, the directors of Friends of Lake of the Woods (FLOW) are hoping that residents and visitors to this site will enjoy some reminiscing about the origins of Lake of the Woods (LOW), a planned community in Orange County, Virginia. This may include information about LOW itself, Orange County, the surrounding battlefields, and its earliest residents.  Much of my information comes from Germanna Road Three Hundred Year History of Lower Orange County, Virginia, by Dr. Peter G. Rainey. Dr. Rainey is a former resident of Lake of the Woods and has been of help with this project. I encourage you to purchase his book on Amazon. 

The story of Lake of the Woods begins in September 1966 with “lakebuilder” Thomas J. Perine, age 36, chairman of Indianapolis’ U.S. Land, Inc. who liked to say that “people have the same motivation to go to water as birds have to fly south in the winter.” Perine had only been to Virginia once; and had already finished lake projects near Chicago (Lake Arrowhead) and Cleveland when he set sights on building a 500-acre lake here.

Perine liked to find a rural valley near a metro area that had a freshwater stream that could be dammed. He would try to finish the project within a year to keep speculators from driving up prices. He also included roads, country clubs, tennis courts, pools, and golf courses…within a few hundred feet of everyone’s lot. He had the foresight to protect everyone’s property value and made sure that all deed restrictions were very tight.

In an interview with The Washington Post, he also explained the beauty of his operation, “We must have a site that is right, where natural valleys can be filled from natural streams after a dam is built… We are determined to save every tree that we can. A man can lose a job by cutting down the wrong tree.” 

Boise Cascade bought U.S. Land, Inc. in July 1967 and Thomas Perine founded a new company in the Bahamas to work on resort complexes. He died shortly thereafter. 

Next Up:  Jim C. Foote and Virginia Wildlife Clubs, Inc. 

The First Foote

Nancy King, FLOW Director, March, 2021

After the death of Thomas Perine, Virginia Wildlife Clubs (VWC) continued to operate through the 1960s, with Boise Cascade Recreation Communities Corporation recording their deed in Orange County 1971.  U.S, Land Inc. which was in the business of building lake communities across the country was also acquired by Boise Cascade through a stock swap.  “With the purchase, Boise Cascade became the nation’s most thoroughly integrated company in the housing field.”  (Rainey, Germanna Road)

Although U.S. Land folks liked to get down into the mud, Boise Cascade brought lots of changes to Lake of the Woods.  With it, Jim C. Foote, age 29, once Thomas Perine’s VP at VWC, became lead developer here.  He reassigned work at two other developments in Atlanta and Boston and relocated his operations to Locust Grove.  Where U.S. Land was muddy, Boise Cascade liked suits and ties. 

Jim explained that he would get topographic maps of an area, lay them out on a dining room table locating streams and designing future lakes.  Jim’s interest centered on Wilderness Run near the Spotsylvania and Orange County lines.  He had already designed the Wilderness Run dam, twice as big as the one that he would later build at LOW.  Then, he would call on local farmers, take them up in his helicopter and convince them to sell.  First, he worked on the Wilderness Run area and when that did not work out, he concentrated on an area totally within the limits of Orange County. 

In 1960, Orange County had 3,588 occupied homes.   Boise Cascade and LOW brought drastic changes to Orange County.  In a county which had seen nothing but decline for 100 years, LOW became 39% of the property valuation and by the end of the 20th Century LOW exceeded the populations of Gordonsville and Orange combined.  Next, Thirteen Farms…..