Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The stone docks (earlier made of wood) were the principal port for the collection and re-export of Virginia slaves. This awful trade was augmented by 5 railroads, several dirt highways and the dock on the other side of the river. Forgotten today, Richmond was the largest exporter of human beings in the nation for the 40 years leading up to the Civil War … It shipped out as many as 10,000 people in a month.
This area was also the terminus of the first railroad in Virginia. It began as a system of wooden tracks ... and no engine! Wagons loaded with coal rolled by gravity down from the mines in Midlothian. This avoided the bumpy dirt roads, but required mules to haul the empty cars back.
Several hundred yards down stream is the site of the Confederate Shipyard, where the iron clad war ship “Virginia” (Merrimack) was made. It was burned during the Confederate evacuation of Richmond, there are no remains today.
Just beyond that is a concrete boat ramp, it is all that remains of a factory that once built speed boats, one of which set a world speed record on the James River further downstream.
Directly across the river was the main port of Richmond. While both sides of the river were
Upstream, on the far shore, was the entrance to the Great Ship lock. This huge gate allowed transatlantic sailing ships access to the same docks reached by canal boats coming from the Great Valley of Virginia via the Kanawha Canal. It is now a park.
The ground you are standing on marks the beginning of the Historic Slave Trail, the route leading to the notorious slave jails of lower Richmond, where enslaved people waited to be “sold down the river”. A self-guiding trail brochure is available for $1 from the James River Park System 646-8911 or Metro Visitor Center.
Sign funded by the Sierra Club in memory of Richard Winn
Erected by Sierra Club.
Location. 37° 31.268′ N, 77° 25.138′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Brander Street 0.6 miles east of Maury Street. Touch for map. This marker is located on the south bank of the James River in the Ancarrow’s Landing section of the James River Park System. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23224, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Crossing the Atlantic (a few steps from this marker); Mechanics of Slavery (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Despair of Slavery (about 500 feet away); Rocketts Landing (about 700 feet away); The Navy Yard of the Confederate States (approx. 0.2 miles away); Union Army Enters Richmond (approx. 0.2 miles away); Creole Revolt (approx. ¼ mile away); City Locks River Gauge (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Categories. • African Americans • Antebellum South, US • Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 24, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 860 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 24, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.