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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Ferries and Flats

 
 
Ferries and Flats Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 13, 2008
1. Ferries and Flats Marker
Inscription. In 1728, the colonial government established Fredericksburg as far upstream on the Rappahannock River as was navigable. Vessels traveling to and from the Chesapeake Bay and beyond could tie up at the docks there. Workers and slaves loaded tobacco and iron during the Colonial period, but wheat exports grew in volume following the American Revolution. The railroad bridge in front of you crosses the Rappahannock River through this once busy commercial area.

Upstream is Falmouth, also founded in 1728. This community sat astride a north-south road that crossed the river at a shallow ford. Falmouth was closer to the river's falls and large, water-powered mills processed iron and agricultural products there, for shipment overseas. Barges called flats, moved goods between these two waterfront towns and ferries crossed back and forth, before bridges linked the two sides of the river.
 
Location. 38° 18.088′ N, 77° 27.362′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Sophia Street, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Located in a parking area in the downtown Fredericksburg area, at an overlook of the river. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking
Close up of the Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 13, 2008
2. Close up of the Map
distance of this marker. Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); African Baptist Church of Fredericksburg (about 500 feet away); Fredericksburg (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Fredericksburg (about 600 feet away); Odd Fellows Lodge (about 700 feet away); John Paul Jones House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Shiloh Baptist Church (New Site) (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Vibrant, But Segregated Community (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Fredericksburg.
 
More about this marker. In the upper right is a painting of Fredericksburg around 1856. This detail from an 1856 lithograph depicts a busy Fredericksburg waterfront, just downstream of a wooden railroad bridge. Note the flat-bottomed ferry to the left. The barges or flats, that plied these waters to and from Falmouth would have been very similar.

In the lower center is a map captioned: This 1817 engineer's map documented the topography along the Rappahannock River, as part of the preparation for constructing a navigational canal system. This detail also shows the nearly two-mile separation between Falmouth and Fredericksburg's port facilities.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
Ferries and Flats Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 13, 2008
3. Ferries and Flats Marker
Rappahannock River image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 13, 2008
4. Rappahannock River
The King's Highway (Va. 3) Bridge crosses the river just upstream from the marker. Ultimately, the introduction of bridges, the first being wood and stone railroad bridges, meant the end of ferry and flat traffic on the river.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 812 times since then and 66 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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