“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Richmond in Chesterfield County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Bellwood Elk Herd

Wapiti (Cervus canadensis)

Bellwood Elk Herd Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 24, 2014
1. Bellwood Elk Herd Marker
Inscription. Around the turn of the 20th century, James Bellwood, an agriculturalist and the owner of this property set aside a few acres to be used as a wooded preserve and imported a pair of elk from Yosemite National Park and Washington State. The elk became a popular attraction along the Richmond-Petersburg trolley, which extended along Jefferson Davis Highway/Route 1. The elk flourished and multiplied until there were 20 elk in the herd. As the United States geared up for World War II, the federal government purchased the land from the Bellwood family for the construction of the Richmond Quartermaster Depot and Richmond Holding and Reconsignment Point, now known as Defense Supply Center Richmond.

The Bellwood family insisted that one condition of the land sale was the retention and maintenance of the elk herd. The Army agreed, although throughout the years some elk have been traded or donated to other herds to maintain herd size and improve the herd’s genetic diversity. Management and care of the elk is overseen by Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond. Through the years the Bellwood elk herd has become an important part of the installation culture and a source of great pride among the work force as the Department of Defense continues to honor the original agreement made with the Bellwood family for the elk.
Bellwood Elk Herd Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 24, 2014
2. Bellwood Elk Herd Marker
Funding for the care of the elk is raised through donations and the installation’s recycling program.

Wapiti At A Glance

• Male elk are called bulls, females are cows, and the young are called calves. Bulls mature at age seven weigh 800 to 1,100 pounds, and stand five to six feet tall at the shoulder.

• Only bulls grow antlers; the number of points is influenced by genetics, feed and age. Elk grow their first set of antlers at age one and use them for defense. They keep their antlers through the winter and shed them annually in the spring. A mature bull’s antlers can weigh between 20 to 30 pounds. As antlers grow, they are surrounded by a soft tissue called velvet. The bulls scrape the velvet off when the antlers stop growing. Elk with six points on each antler are called Royal elk; seven-point elk are Imperial; and those with eight points are Monarchs.

• Bulls compete for dominance during the fall mating period by sparring and through powerful vocal calls known as bugling.

• Cows give birth after approximately 246 days. The calves are born mid-May through July and spend the first week of their lives hidden in tall grass. Calves are born with spots and develop solid brown coats in six months. Cows with calves will join together and take turns ‘babysitting’ while the other graze.

• A commonly used name for elk is “Wapiti,” the Shawnee word for white rump and tail.
Erected by Defense Supply Center Richmond.
Location. 37° 24.798′ N, 77° 26.139′ W. Marker is near Richmond, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker is on Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) 0.3 miles north of Chester Road (Virginia Route 145), on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8000 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Richmond VA 23297, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Drewry’s Bluff Defences (approx. 0.6 miles away); Battle of Drewry’s Bluff (approx. 0.6 miles away); Drewry's Bluff (approx. 0.7 miles away); Fort Stevens (approx. ¾ mile away); The Bermuda Campaign (approx. ¾ mile away); a different marker also named Fort Stevens (approx. 0.8 miles away); First Virginia Infantry Regiment (approx. 0.8 miles away); Covered Way (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . .  The Bellwood Elk brochure (pdf file). Defense Supply Center Richmond (Submitted on May 26, 2014.) 
Categories. AnimalsRailroads & StreetcarsWar, World II
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 258 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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