Situated between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, Botetourt is generously watered by the James River and its placid tributaries. The county's topography includes mountain ranges, ridges with good pastures on their slopes, the fertile Catawba Valley, and the Daleville area with rich limestone soil for growing fruit. The first large grants of land in the area were made in 1739 to Benjamin Borden and to the Wood's River Land Company under the control of Scots-Irish speculator Colonel James Patton. Scots-Irish settlers were soon followed by German immigrants.
In 1769, Botetourt County was carved from the southern part of Augusta and it initially extended to the Mississippi River. The county was named for Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, the royal governor of Virginia at the time. Its county seat, platted as Botetourt Court House in 1770, was established as a town in 1772 and given the name Fincastle. Because of its location at the junction of the north-south Great Wagon Road and the Wilderness Road to the southwest back country, Fincastle became the leading commercial center. From 1851, transport of the county's products to the east was expedited by the James River and Kanawha Canal, which had its western terminus in the town of Buchanan. Railroads later stilled river traffic.
Botetourt's prosperous nineteenth-century agrarian society has left a considerable number of imposing brick buildings, many of which drew from the designs of Asher Benjamin's publications. Especially striking are several early-nineteenth-century stone houses. Today, the county is being colonized as a bedroom community for Roanoke. Strings of large houses are constructed on small lots along many ridges in otherwise bucolic sections of the county.
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