Explore the Past - More East Riverfront History

Confederate Navy Yard / Fall of Richmond:

President Lincoln Riding through Richmond, Va., April 4th, 1865, amid the Enthusiastic Cheers of the Inhabitants, from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (Library of Congress)
President Lincoln Riding through Richmond, Va., April 4th, 1865, amid the Enthusiastic Cheers of the Inhabitants, from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (Library of Congress)

 

When the Civil War began in 1861, the Confederacy established a navy yard in this area to build, arm and maintain ships, most notably the ironclad warships and torpedo vessels known as the James River Squadron.  The presence of the Confederate Navy Yard, which eventually spanned both sides of the river, helped protect Richmond against Union forces attempting to come up the James.  The navy yard and its ships were destroyed on April 2, 1865, by Confederates fleeing the capital.  Early the next morning, Richmond Mayor Joseph Mayo met advancing Union forces on Osborne Turnpike about 2 miles south of this GRTC Pulse station to surrender the city and ask for help extinguishing the fires set by the evacuating Confederates.  At the intersection of Main and Nicholson streets about 500 feet south of this GRTC Pulse station, the Union Army, including U.S. Colored Troops from the 25th Army Corps under Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel’s command, entered and took possession of Richmond.  On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln came ashore near 17th and Dock streets and was greeted by jubilant crowds of formerly enslaved people as he walked through the city.

 

Virginia Capital Trail:

Sign for trail
Virginia Capital Trail map at Great Shiplock Park, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)
 
Virginia Capital Trail path through floodwall
Juncture of the Low Line trail section and the Richmond Canal Walk, 17th and Dock streets, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)

 

Between this GRTC Pulse station and the James River lies the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile paved pathway that connects the current capital, Richmond, with Virginia’s first capital, Jamestown.  Completed in 2015, the Virginia Capital Trail is dedicated solely for use by walkers, runners, skaters, cyclists and anyone using non-motorized transport.  Much of the Virginia Capital Trail parallels VA-5, passing parks, battlegrounds, presidential homes and former plantations before ending at Jamestown Settlement.  Trail amenities include restrooms, shelters and bicycle fix-it stations.  A number of businesses along the route cater to Trail users, offering bike rentals, shuttle services, tours, food and overnight lodging.  The Richmond trailhead is located at Great Shiplock Park on Dock Street, about a half-mile north of this GRTC Pulse station.  A paved and landscaped section called the Low Line extends west from Great Shiplock Park and travels underneath an elevated, active railroad trestle, connecting the Virginia Capital Trail with the Richmond Canal Walk.  To access the Virginia Capital Trail from this GRTC Pulse station, walk south on Main Street and turn right at Wharf Street.  (0.1 mile.)

Woodward House:

Woodward House, front view, 2012 (The Valentine, Maurice Duke Collection)
Woodward House, front view, 2012 (The Valentine, Maurice Duke Collection)

 

Rear view of house
Woodward House, rear view, 2012 (The Valentine, Maurice Duke Collection)

 

Located at the corner of Williamsburg Avenue and 31st Street is the last surviving house dating to the time when Rocketts Landing was a bustling port.  The Woodward House takes its name from ship’s captain John Woodward, who lived in the house from around 1800 to 1820.  The original single-story, two-room core of the house may predate the 1782 incorporation of Richmond.  Additions over the years have resulted in a 2 ½-story wood-frame house with a small front porch, dormered gable roof and three chimneys.  The house stands as a reminder of a time when the area around Rocketts Landing was a densely packed neighborhood of houses and taverns inhabited by sailors, harbor masters, tobacco inspectors, merchants, maritime craftsmen and tenant laborers.  The house may be viewed from the outside but is not open to the public.  (3017 Williamsburg Ave., 0.4 miles.)

Ancarrow’s Landing / Richmond’s Slave Trail:

South African group on the Richmond Slave Trail, 2007 (Photo by Steven R. Skinner)
South African group on the Richmond Slave Trail, 2007 (Photo by Steven R. Skinner)

 

Newton Ancarrow at work, late 20th century, 1976 (VCU Libraries, Ancarrow Collection, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Inc.)
Newton Ancarrow at work, late 20th century, 1976 (VCU Libraries, Ancarrow Collection, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Inc.)

 

If you look across the James River, the land opposite this GRTC Pulse station is now known as Ancarrow’s Landing.  From the early 1800s through 1865, the property was the site of the Manchester Docks, where enslaved people were brought by ship to Richmond for sale at the slave markets in Shockoe Bottom.  The Richmond Slave Trail, a self-guided, nearly 3-mile walking trail, begins at Ancarrow’s Landing, off Brander Street in Manchester, and travels along the James River before crossing over the Mayo Bridge and ending at First African Baptist Church, near the VCU Medical Center GRTC Pulse Station.  In 1961, Newton Hopper Ancarrow established a luxury- and speed-boat-building business on the land.  After noticing pollution and raw sewage in the James River, Ancarrow became an environmental activist and impassioned advocate for restoring the James to its natural, clean state.  In 1979, the City of Richmond used eminent domain to seize his land for a never-realized expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.  Ancarrow, who was also known for photographing thousands of native wildflowers, died in 1991.  Ancarrow’s Landing is now part of the James River Park System.

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