Chesapeake, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Bridging the Past with the Present
Great Bridge Battleﬁeld & Waterways Park and Visitor Center
1600s: Woodlands, Marshes and the Great Bridge
The rich forests and fields south of the Elizabeth River and in northeastern North Carolina gave the early settlers in the late 1600s bountiful yields of shingles, naval stores, lumber, grain and tobacco. Supplies traveled across a series of causeways (roads) and bridges north to market.
1700s: From Colony to Nation
The Great Road was the route over which much needed supplies traveled from North Carolina to Great Bridge to be shipped to Norfolk. The patriot victory in the Battle of Great Bridge, December 9, 1775, secured the route for the colonists, drove the British out of Norfolk and empowered Virginia to be a major supplier of food and naval stores for the American forces throughout the Revolution.
1800s: Early America
After the Revolutionary War, a quicker water passage was needed for commerce. The hand-dug Dismal Swamp Canal, opened to flat boats in 1805, later proved too shallow for the steam engines of the mid 1800s. Cut through the wilderness of cypress swamps by steam dredges, the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal was completed in 1859. This canal cut the battlefield in two.
1900s: Crops, Commerce, and Industry
With improved transportation, this area became a major supplier of truck farming products.
Today: Commerce and Recreation
The canals continue to provide an inland water route north and south. Commercial vessels and pleasure craft use the canal, and the village of Great Bridge is a modern center of activity that still carries traces of its rise from the tidal marshes of the 1600s.
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Location. 36° 43.429′ N, 76° 14.791′ W. Marker is in Chesapeake, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Locks Road 0.6 miles west of North Battlefield Boulevard (Virginia Route 168), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Located in Great Bridge Lock Park. Marker is in this post office area: Chesapeake VA 23320, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome (here, next to this marker); The Battle of Great Bridge (here, next to this marker); What is a Lock? (within shouting distance of this marker); Why Build a Canal Here? (within shouting distance of this The Iron Titans Tame the Marsh? (within shouting distance of this marker); Liquid Highways (within shouting distance of this marker); Village of Great Bridge (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Under Two Flags (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chesapeake.
More about this marker. On the top left is a drawing of the "The Great Bridge". On the upper right is a sketch of "A lumber barge on the Dismal Swamp Canal. Harper’s Weekly, 1873". On the lower center is a photo with the caption, "In 1932, Great Bridge Lock was rebuilt. The gates being installed in this picture are still in use today. Picture from the Livius Old collection". On the lower right is a photo of "Great Bridge bridge in 2006".
Also see . . .
1. Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation. (Submitted on October 30, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal Historic District (pdf file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on October 30, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • War, US Revolutionary • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 30, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 545 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 30, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.