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

Water Power


— Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail —

Water Power Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 27, 2021
1. Water Power Marker
Inscription.  Jamestown colonists first saw the falls of the James in May 1607 during an exploratory trip to find the head of the river. John Smith and Gabriel Archer described the falls in their journals. Smith recorded how the violent waters brought an abrupt end to navigation. Archer also notes the barrier to further navigation, but he foresees the potential for industry here. "...We came to an overfall impassable for boats any further. Here the water falls down through great main rocks... in which fall it maketh diverse little islets on which might be placed 100 milns [mills] for any uses."

These rapids powered the famous Tredegar Iron Works, and they are popular today for whitewater recreation.

"...we were intercepted with great craggy stones that [stand] in midst of the river, where the water falleth so rudely and with such a violence as not any boat can possibly pass..."
— Captain John Smith, A True Relation, 1608

Experience more of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail at these Richmond-area places:

• Enjoy biking along the Virginia Capital Trail,
Water Power Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 27, 2021
2. Water Power Marker
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a biking and pedestrian trail linking Richmond to Historic Jamestowne.
• Visit Great Shiplock Park to see the 19th-century lock that by-passed the falls, connecting the James River with the Richmond Dock. This is the western trailhead of the Virginia Capital Trail.
• At Ancarrow's Landing, you can launch a boat into the tidal waters of the James River or cast a line from shore to enjoy some of the area's best fishing.

• Enjoy fishing, bird watching. tubing. canoeing. or a scenic hike at Pony Pasture Park.

Decorative tide page from one of Smith's publications. What we know about this period in Virginia comes largely from the writings of Smith and fellow Jamestown colonists Gabriel Archer and George Percy.

Tredegar Iron Works, located here because of the water power, was once one of the nation's largest iron manufacturers. The main building now serves as a National Park Service visitor center. Image Library of Congreess, Alexander Gardner, 1865

Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationIndustry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1607.
Location. 37° 
Water Power Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 27, 2021
3. Water Power Marker
32.06′ N, 77° 26.923′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker is on Tredegar Street, 0.1 miles west of Brown's Island Way, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23219, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to Richmond’s Historic Riverfront (a few steps from this marker); Belle Isle (within shouting distance of this marker); Robert E. Lee Bridge (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tredegar in the Twentieth Century / Then and Now (about 600 feet away); Horseshoe Shops (about 600 feet away); Making Machines at Tredegar (about 600 feet away); Industrial Recycling (about 600 feet away); Tredegar Rolling Mills (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 28, 2021, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 69 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 28, 2021, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Oct. 25, 2021