Explore the Past - More Rocketts Landing History

James River Steam Brewery Beer Caves:

James River Steam Brewery Beer CavesJames River Steam Brewery, 1866-1879

 

Modern photo of exterior
James River Steam Brewery Beer Caves, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)

 

A unique remnant from Richmond’s brewing history can be found under the western side of modern-day Rocketts Landing. In 1866, David G. Yuengling Jr. of Pennsylvania’s Yuengling brewing family arrived in Richmond and, with two partners, founded the James River Steam Brewery. The company operated out of a huge five-story building on a hill overlooking the James River. Because mechanical refrigeration methods had not yet been developed, Yuengling tunneled into the side of the land underneath the brewery, creating granite- and brick-lined storage cellars (beer caves) to maintain his lagers at a cool temperature. The brewery was unable to survive a nationwide economic depression and closed in 1879. A bitter Yuengling blamed the failure on local residents, claiming, “They won’t drink beer.” The James River Steam Brewery building was destroyed by fire in 1891, leaving the beer caves as the only remaining sign of Yuengling’s Richmond endeavor. While the caves are not open to the public, their entrances may be viewed from the Virginia Capital Trail or by walking down a set of stairs from Old Main Street. (4920 Old Main St., 0.2 miles.)

Richmond Cedar Works:

Richmond Cedar Works (Credit The Valentine)Richmond Cedar Works, 1884-1967 (The Valentine)

 

The Cedar Works building at the corner of Rocketts Way and Old Osborne Turnpike (VA-5) is the former home of the Richmond Cedar Works Manufacturing Co. Founded in 1884, the steam-powered facility produced ice-cream makers, ice chests, butter churns, washboards, washing machines, buckets and decorative woodenware. The company operated at this location until 1967, when it was purchased by Dibrell Brothers, a leaf-tobacco broker located in Danville, Va. When developers renovated the Cedar Works Building into condominiums and office space in the mid-2000s, they retained the historic character of the building by incorporating the exposed brick walls, wooden beams and columns into the project design.(Walk south on Old Main Street and east on Rocketts Way, 0.2 miles.)

Power Plant:

Rocketts Landing Power PlantPower Plant building, 2018 (courtesy of GRTC)

 

Modern photo
Power Plant building, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)

 

The building between the James River and Old Main Street near Orleans Street was built around 1887 and was the electrical power plant for the Richmond Union Passenger Railway, the nation’s first successful, fully electric trolley car system. The trolleys operated in Richmond from 1888 until 1949. After sitting vacant for decades, the Power Plant underwent an award-winning renovation in 2007 and now houses the Boathouse at Rocketts Landing restaurant and several boat clubs. (4708 E. Old Main St., 0.1 mile.)

Greater Fulton:

Greater Fulton 1890sView of Fulton from Chimborazo Hill, 1890s (The Valentine, Cook Collection)

 

The area about a half-mile east of this Pulse Station is generally referred to as Greater Fulton and includes the neighborhoods of Fulton, Fulton Hill and Montrose Heights.  From the 1930s to 1950s, the land at the base of the hill bordering Gillies Creek was home to Fulton, a thriving blue-collar African-American neighborhood composed of 800 homes, businesses and churches.  In the 1970s, after severe flooding and an economic decline, the city of Richmond forced the remaining residents to relocate, and then bull-dozed the entire Fulton community.  Most of the area sat vacant for more than 30 years until new, moderate-income housing was finally built.  The Powhatan Playground on Goddin Street in Fulton Hill was the location of a 17th-century village led by Chief Powhatan’s son, Parahunt, where initial contacts between English settlers and the Powhatans took place.  Around 1800, this site became the location of a large estate built by James Alexander Fulton, for whom the area is named.  Fulton Hill is also home to Richmond National Cemetery, built in 1866, which holds the remains of almost 9,500 military veterans, including more than 3,800 Union soldiers who died in the Richmond area during the Civil War.  (Powhatan Playground, Goddin and Fulton streets, 0.4 miles.  Richmond National Cemetery, 1701 Williamsburg Road, 1.3 miles.)

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