Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Historic Belle Isle
James River Park System
Belle Isle, at 54 acres, is the largest island in the James River at Richmond, and also one of the most historic sites in the city. Virginiaís native tribes, including the Powhatans, fished in the river here for thousands of years before the English arrived.
Captain John Smith was among the first Europeans to visit this site in 1607, and the island was acquired by William Byrd I in 1676. William Byrd II, Richmondís founder, called it “the broad rock island”. The island was sold by the Byrd family about 1776, and soon became one of Richmondís first industrial centers.
Things to Find
A nail factory was in operation here by 1814 and later a full scale ironworks that remained in production until 1972.
Granite was quarried here in the 19th and 20th centuries.
During the Civil War, one of the most notorious prisoner-of-war camps in the South was located here.
The remains of a Confederate gun emplacement are still visible on the western end of the island, at the top of the hill.
From 1904 to 1967, the Virginia Electric Power Company operated a hydroelectric power plant on the islandís south bank.
In 1995, Belle Isle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as a site of national historic significance.
Paid for by a donation from St. Catherineís Middle School
Erected by James River Park System.
Location. 37° 31.886′ N, 77° 27.023′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Tredegar Street 0.3 miles west of South 5th Street. Click for map. Located on Belle Isle which can be reached via a pedestrian bridge from the north bank of the river. Marker is at or near this postal address: 470 Tredegar Street, Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War POW Camp (within shouting distance of this marker); Belle Isle Prison Camp Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Dominion Iron & Steel Company (within shouting distance of this marker); The Power of Moving Water (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Historic Belle Isle (within shouting distance of this marker); Canons and Corpses (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cannon over the Camp (about 700 feet away); Ironworks Oil House (about 800 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . . The James River Park System. (Submitted on April 1, 2013.)
Categories. • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce • Native Americans • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 279 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.