While today the James River Park System is celebrated for its beauty and wild spaces, the Park is integral to the history of Richmond.
The canals of Pumphouse Park and beyond were key transportation hubs for crops like tobacco and the warehouses of Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom. Belle Isle has housed a power plant, a quarry, historic ironworks, and was the home to an infamous Civil War POW camp. Ancarrow’s Landing was the site of Richmond’s slave docks, where millions of slaves were delivered to the slave markets of Shockoe Bottom and shipped to similar markets in cities like New Orleans and Charleston. The Tredegar Street put-in sits at the foot of the Tredegar Ironworks, the facility that produced almost half of the armaments used by the Confederates in the Civil War, and which produced the iron plating for its first ironclad warship, the CSS Virginia.
When visiting the Park, always be on the lookout for the remnants of the Park’s historic past.