Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Canal Defines Its Neighborhood
The canal in front of you, constructed in the 1830s, was part of a navigation system that extended 50 miles up the Rappahannock River. The downstream terminus was a turning basin, in the block to your right. Several industries were located nearby, some using the canal’s navigation function and others its water power. In the 1880s, R.T. Knox and Brother converted a small mill to an electric generating plant, which began to make hydro-mechanical power obsolete.
With electricity now available, industries relocated away from the flood-prone waterways. To meet the new and growing demand, hydro-electric plants evolved to serve larger geographical areas. In 1910, the newly constructed Embry Power Plant provided electricity to the region, its turbines fed by water flowing through this canal. To maximize efficiency, the canal had been straightened and the turning basin filled in. A neighborhood rapidly developed, changing the nature of this area from industrial to residential.
This 1854 lithograph shows the nature of the area around the turning basin.
This contemporary map shows how the canal
This detail from an 1878 map depicts the size of the turning basin and shows several related buildings.
Erected by Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Office.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 38° 18.507′ N, 77° 27.997′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Fall Hill Avenue (Virginia Route 639) and Prince Edward Street, on the right when traveling west. Located along the Rappahannock Canal Path. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Water Powered Industries (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fredericksburg Granite (approx. 0.2 miles away); Rappahannock River Heritage Trail (approx. 0.2 miles away); Religious Liberty (approx. 0.2 miles away); French John's Wharf (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mary Washington Burial Site (approx. 0.2 miles away); Col. George Eskridge Memorial Tree (approx. 0.2 miles away); Meditation Rock (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Old Marker At This Location also titled "A Canal Defines its Neighborhood".
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 20, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 343 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 2. submitted on June 20, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.