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

Appomattox River Heritage Trail

Appomattox River Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 23, 2011
1. Appomattox River Heritage Trail
Trail Sites

1. Pocahontas: In 1784, four small towns at the convergence of three counties (Pocahontas in Chesterfield, Blandford in Prince George, and Petersburg and Ravenscroft in Dinwiddie) were combined and incorporated as Petersburg, soon home to a large free black population, and Pocahontas was one of their principal communities.

2. AtIantic Coast Line Railroad Bridge (site): Only the piers remain from the 1909 ACL railroad bridge, which replaced the Richmond & Petersburg railroad causeway of 1838.

3. Pocahontas Bridge (site): A storied bridge was constructed here in 1752, the year the town of Pocahontas was established. It was abandoned soon after the construction of the diversion channel in 1909.

4. Appomattox Point: During the 18th century the community in this vicinity was called Appomattox, or Bolling’s Point.

5. Union Station (1909): Originally serving north-south and east-west rail traffic, Union Station still accommodated east-west passenger traffic until the late 1970s.

6. South Side Depot (1851-54): The oldest
Trail Sites image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 23, 2011
2. Trail Sites
railroad station remaining in the Confederate South. By late 1864 the South Side Railroad was Lee’s last remaining supply line.

7. Flea Island: Three major bridges have crossed Flea Island: Browder’s (late 1750s), Hector McNeill’s (1803), and the South Side Railroad bridge (late 1850s).

8. Peter Jones Trading Post: Only ruins from one of Petersburg’s earliest stone buildings, known as “Peter Jones Trading Post,” remain.

9. Sturgeon Dam: Virginia’s largest and most intact weir fish dam, the Sturgeon Dam was used by Native Americans who taught early colonists how to operate it.

10. Harvell Dam: Located at the Great Falls and successor to a series of stone dams, Harvell Dam produced electric power into the late 20th century.

11. Campbell’s Bridge: In 1791, the first of a succession of bridges was constructed here at Narrow Falls to connect to north-bank mills.

12. Canal Mill Ruins: A) Water-powered mills have been located on the south side of the river since 1745, when William Pride built the south canal. B) For more than a century mills were also powered by the north canal, constructed in 1791.

13. Street of Mills: A series of mills along Canal Street utilized water flowing from the Upper Appomattox Canal Basin to the Appomattox River.

14. Canal
Trail Map image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 23, 2011
3. Trail Map
Basin (site):
Abandoned early in the 20th century, the basin of the Upper Appomattox Canal was once full of batteaux.

15. Merchant’s Mill Dam: Successor to Pride’s Mill Dam (1745), Merchant’s MIII Dam now drives water into both the north and south canals.

16. The Arches of Battersea Cotton Mill: The Battersea Cotton Mill, one of the largest along the river, discharged water from two water wheels here. These arches were an integral component of the mill foundations serving as the outfall for the canal waters that drove the mill.

17. Battersea: Col. John Banister constructed this fine Palladian villa in 1768 as a leisurely retreat on the outskirts of the burgeoning town of Petersburg.

18. Battersea Dam (Spike Dam): Built circa 1840, Battersea Dam was a “crib” dam made by stacking interlocking logs, spiking them to each other at the corners and to boulders at each end, and filling the crib with rocks. Canoeists call it Spike Dam because of the spikes they seek to avoid. Some of the spikes can still be seen embedded in the boulders when the river is low.

19. Battersea and Ettrick High Canals: A) From the south side of Battersea Dam, the Battersea Canal courses a mile down river to end at the Battersea Cotton Mill. B) The Ettrick High Canal begins at the north edge of Battersea
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Dam and runs 1.1 miles downriver to the Ettrick Manufacturing Company Cotton Mill.

20. The Quarry: This is an abandoned granite quarry from which stones to construct the canals were taken.

21. Indian Town Creek: In 1646, the Appomattox Indian5 were, by treaty, relocated to land along this stream, now called Rohoic Creek.

22. Aqueduct (1826): The Upper Appomattox Canal crossed high above the creek on a stone aqueduct south of the railroad. The canal allowed batteaux to bypass the rapids of the seven-mile fall line. To the west lie four abandoned staircase locks that carried batteaux down 29.32 feet to the level of the aqueduct.

23. The March to Fort Gregg: Here, on April 2, 1865, 300 Confederate soldiers crossed the Appomattox on a pontoon bridge en route to Fort Gregg (aka the Confederate Alamo), where they held off 5,000 Union forces in hand-to-hand combat, while Lee’s army established new positions behind Indian Town Creek. After two hours, all Confederates were dead or wounded.

24. Ferndale Park (Appomattox Riverside Park): The park’s pond system was part of the Upper Appomattox Canal completed between 1807 and 1810. Benjamin H. Latrobe, often called “America’s first architect,” was hired to undertake a survey for the canal’s construction. Ferndale Park was the major area amusement
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park from 1910 to 1928.

The Realization of a Vision

The Appomattox River is a major tributary of the James River flowing east through central Virginia’s Piedmont coastal plain. It is an important regional resource that is unique and irreplaceable.

The Appomattox River Heritage Trail is a dynamic, growing trail system. It was created through the support of public and private partners working together to preserve, protect and interpret the river as the cultural and natural resource that is the heart of our regional identity. The trail offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and power of the Appomattox River. At several locations the trail connects to Petersburg’s historic downtown neighborhoods.

The rectangle in the key map to the right outlines the area shown on this map.

Thanks to the Historic Petersburg Foundation for the funding to produce this sign.

The Appomattox River Heritage Trail exists due to hard work, commitment and funding of the following: USDOT and VDOT Enhancement Funds; City of Petersburg; Friends of the Lower Appomattox; Crater Planning District Commission; Boy Scouts of America Petersburg troop 180; StudioAmmons, Inc.

This sign is on of a series of Appomattox River Heritage Trail signs funded in part by a grant from Philip Morris U.S.A.
Erected by Historic Petersburg Foundation.
Location. 37° 13.927′ N, 77° 25.021′ W. Marker is in Petersburg, Virginia. Marker is on Fleet Street (Virginia Route 36) 0.1 miles north of Grove Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Campbell's Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Ettrick (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The First Methodist Meeting House (about 500 feet away); Grace Episcopal Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fort Henry (approx. half a mile away); Joseph Cotten (approx. half a mile away); Tavern Park (approx. half a mile away); General Lee's Headquarters (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Petersburg.
Categories. Settlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels

More. Search the internet for Appomattox River Heritage Trail.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 22, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 999 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 22, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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