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

Mule-Fueled Waterway

 
 
Mule-Fueled Waterway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 11, 2019
1. Mule-Fueled Waterway Marker
Inscription.  The granite basin at your feet is a canal lock, a way to link high bodies of water to low ones. There are two locks in this park. They were built around 1830 by black slaves, Irish immigrants and Italian stone masons and are part of the Kanawha Canal — the great water highway that connected Richmond to the western part of Virginia.

These are called Three Mile Locks because they are that distance from the beginning of the canal (the Turning Basin) which was located along Canal Street between 7th and 12th Streets where the James Center is today.

How They Worked
When the gates on the right were closed, a boat could enter from the left. The left gates would close behind the boat. The water level in the lock would rise as water entered on the right through small openings near the bottom called wicket gates. When the water was level in the upper section, the right gates would open and the boat could proceed upstream. The process was reversed to move downstream.

Note the foot-deep niches in the walls on both sides of the lock. This is where the canal gates rested when they
Mule-Fueled Waterway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 11, 2019
2. Mule-Fueled Waterway Marker
were open. The curved end of the niche is where the gates swung on large wooden posts.

The Tow Path
Mules (and horses) pulled the boats with heavy ropes. The strip of land on the opposite side is the towpath where they once walked.

With care, you may find a few shallow grooves along the edge of the lock. These were made by ropes abrading the rock while holding boats in place as the water level changed.
 
Erected by Kanawha Kiwanis Club.
 
Location. Marker has been reported damaged. 37° 32.203′ N, 77° 29.2′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Pump House Drive west of Park Drive (Virginia Route 161), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1600 Pump House Drive, Richmond VA 23221, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Pumps and Parties (within shouting distance of this marker); Breaking Stones with Feathers (within shouting distance of this marker); Byrd Park Pump House (within shouting distance of this marker); Richmond at the Falls (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Water Water Everywhere (about 600 feet away); River & Canal
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(approx. 0.4 miles away); The Carillon (approx. half a mile away); Maymont, Gilded Age Estate (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
 
Categories. Waterways & Vessels
 

More. Search the internet for Mule-Fueled Waterway.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 20, 2019. This page originally submitted on May 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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