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

A Once Promising Canal Becomes a Raceway

 
 
A Once Promising Canal Becomes a Raceway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 19, 2016
1. A Once Promising Canal Becomes a Raceway Marker
Inscription. Beginning in 1829, the Rappahannock Company constructed a series of dams and canals along the river, to transport bulk cargo. Gold had been found in Spotsylvania County in 1806 and a canal could bring heavy equipment and other materials to the area’s numerous mines. Gold production grew in the Rappahannock valley during the 1830s and 40s and the Town of Fredericksburg invested heavily in the canal enterprise that appeared to support a promising future.

Extracting gold by crushing quartz required heavy equipment and proved expensive. When the California gold strikes in 1849 drew mining companies to the West, Virginia mining declined. The canal system had been extended 50 miles upriver, but insufficient revenues forced it to close in 1853. The Fredericksburg Water Power Company constructed a dam across the river and turned this part of the system into a raceway. The new millrace supported several local industries.

(sidebar)
In 1849, the U.S. Mint received $129,382 in Virginia gold, while receiving $5.5 million in California gold.

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When the Fredericksburg Water Power Company constructed a dam across the Rappahannock River, it included a canal lock at the dam, to allow continued navigation to the upriver reaches.

Early plans for a canal were developed by Laomi Baldwin,
Rappahannock Canal Path image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 19, 2016
2. Rappahannock Canal Path
in 1817. The navigation company had to build a bridge where its canal cut Fall Hill Road. The original stone bridge abutment is visible under the modern bridge in front of you. The concrete on top of the stones is an adaptation for a 1950s bridge.
Panel design by Jackson Foster, The I.D. Entity

 
Erected by Fredericksburg Timeless.
 
Location. 38° 19.004′ N, 77° 29.178′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Fall Hill Avenue (Virginia Route 639) and Tyler Street, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Located along the Rappahannock Canal Path. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3219 Fall Hill Ave, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Confederate Defenses in December 1862 (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate and Federal Defenses in May 1863 (within shouting distance of this marker); Rappahannock River Heritage Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); Embrey Dam (approx. 0.3 miles away); Falls of the Rappahannock River (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Rappahannock River Runs Free Once More (approx. 0.3 miles away); Amoroleck Encounters John Smith (approx. half a mile away); Historic Old Mill District (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Fredericksburg.
 
Also see . . .  Old Marker at this Location. This marker replaced an older one at this location titled “A Navigation Canal Becomes a Raceway” (Submitted on June 21, 2016.) 
 
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsIndustry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesWaterways & Vessels
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 115 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 21, 2016.
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