The Park » About the James River Park System
Canal & Architecture
Named for one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the Pumphouse is an impressive granite Victorian Gothic structure built in 1882-3, which once served as Richmond’s primary water pumping station. Although the building is not usually open to the public, there are occasional tours and there are dreams of rehabilitating the upper floor, once the site of society dances.
In addition this small area of the park system also includes a few trails that lead through the wooded portions to the three historic canals, two granite canal locks and an 18th-century canal archway constructed to commemorate a visit by George Washington. A small granite quarry lies to the right of the park’s entrance. The northernmost canal, the Power Feeder canal, fed the turbines for pumping water to Byrd Park. The middle canal was part of the Kanawha Canal System, which was constructed to go around Richmond’s rapids, and the lowest canal was the beginning of the James River Canal System, the first in the country.
Wooden bridges provide access over the canals. Please watch your children in this area due to all the hazards. Note, too, that you cannot access the river from here; CSX owns land between the park and the water.
Other North of the River Locations
Parking: 1627 Pump House Dr., turn onto Pump House Dr. just north of the Boulevard Bridge tollbooth; on-street parking available
Wheelchair accessible: outside only
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
A New Friend Group
The Friends of Pump House are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization through a partnership agreement with the EnRichmond Foundation. Their goal is to revitalize and maintain the Pump House building and surrounding park. They hope to bring the building up to code and obtain a certificate of occupancy, which would allow the building to be open for public access. The building is currently closed to the public, but by working with the city, experts and the community to apply for grants, fundraise and coordinate volunteer efforts, the Friends of Pump House are dedicated to revitalizing this historic and architectural treasure. Visit their website.
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