His father, Lon Savage, wrote "Thunder in the Mountains," a history of the West Virginia Mine Wars.
Savage and Chapman are taking cameras and recording equipment to preserve images and their conversations with people they meet during the 2,200-mile voyage.
"We plan to ask people what role rivers play in their lives," Savage said. "Rivers used to be such an integral part of society."
Savage believes people should become more aware of some environmental problems. "In Virginia, 17 tons of toxic materials flow into the New River, 15 tons of which comes from the Radford Munitions plant."
The pair will start using an 18-foot canoe that was owned by Savage's father. "When we reach Charleston or Huntington, we will begin using a larger canoe during the rest of our trip," Savage said.
They plan to camp in many places along their journey. "There are lots of state forests along the way. The New River is a lot more remote than the other rivers. Along the Ohio River, there are towns every few miles," Savage said. "We will also stay with some folks we know in cities like Huntington, Ironton, Cincinnati, Louisville and Memphis."
Savage and Chapman are taking one tent and two hammocks to help them at night. They also will have food, water, rain gear and flotation devices.
"Hopefully, we will not get hit by a hurricane," Savage said. "We also have a solar panel, to hook up our cell phones to recharge them."
They want to continue studying the history of the rivers and towns along their journey. "The New River was a big channel for the Underground Railroad that helped free slaves before and during the Civil War," Savage said.
The two plan to stay for a night in Charleston during their long journey, probably on Oct. 29.
"My dad was from Charleston," Savage said. "This town has been very good to me. After New Orleans, I could see myself making my way back here."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.