Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“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)
 

Historic Belle Isle

 
 
Historic Belle Isle Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 31, 2013
1. Historic Belle Isle Marker
Inscription. In front of you is Belle Isle. At 54 acres, it is the largest island in the James River at Richmond, and one of the most historic sites in the city. Virginia Indians fished in the river here long before the English arrived, Captain John Smith was among the first Europeans to visit in 1607, and William Byrd I acquired the island in 1676. William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond, called it “the broad rock island.” Sold by the Byrd family about 1776, the island soon became one of Richmondís first industrial centers, with a nail factory here by 1814 and later a full-scale ironworks that operated until 1972. Granite was quarried here in the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Civil War, one of the most notorious prisoner-of-war camps in the South was located on Belle Isle. The remains of a Confederate gun emplacement still are visible on the western end of the hill. From 1904 to 1967, the Virginia Electric Power Company operated a power plant on the islandís south bank. In 1995, Belle Isle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a nationally significant historic site.

Belle Isle is now one of Richmondís most popular city parks, with hiking and jogging trails, historic ruins, and “broad rocks” from which to view the river, especially the roaring rapids at its midpoint. Part of the James River
Historic Belle Isle Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 31, 2013
2. Historic Belle Isle Marker
Park System, Belle Isle is a natural area as well as a historic site. Please do your part to preserve one of Richmondís great natural and historic treasures.
 
Erected by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
 
Location. 37° 31.866′ N, 77° 27.061′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Tredegar Street 0.3 miles west of South 5th Street. Touch for map. Located on Belle Isle which can be reached via a pedestrian bridge from the north bank of the river. Marker is at or near this postal address: 470 Tredegar Street, Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Power of Moving Water (a few steps from this marker); Belle Isle Prison Camp Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War POW Camp (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Historic Belle Isle (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Dominion Iron & Steel Company (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Canons and Corpses (about 500 feet away); Cannon over the Camp (about 600 feet away); Ironworks Oil House (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
 
More about this marker. (caption)
Drawn
Belle Isle Prison Camp Site image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 31, 2013
3. Belle Isle Prison Camp Site
to illustrate an 1864 map of Richmond and vicinity, this image shows Belle Isle with the prisoner-of-war camp to the front and left. An artillery emplacement still stands atop the hill on the right-hand end of the island. The Old Dominion Iron and Nail Works smokestacks are visible behind the camp, and Fort French can be seen on the bluff on the south side of the James River. From Hughes Military Map of Richmond and Petersburg, Va., showing the Rebel Fortifications Drawn on the Ground for the War Department, courtesy Library of Congress
 
Also see . . .
1. Richmond National Battlefield Park. (Submitted on April 1, 2013.)
2. The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. (Submitted on April 1, 2013.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWar, US Civil
 
Hughes military map of Richmond & Petersburg, Va. image. Click for full size.
By William C. Hughes, 1864
4. Hughes military map of Richmond & Petersburg, Va.
Showing the Rebel fortifications drawn on the ground for the War Department by Major W.C. Hughes of Michigan Library of Congress [G3884.R5S5 1864 H8]
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 1, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 340 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 1, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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