Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Civil War spots, Chester/Richmond, Va.

We stayed near Chester, Va., during our Richmond trip.

On the first day we got to the area pretty late in the afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we jumped back in the car to head back to Richmond for some exploring. Along the way we saw signs for two Civil War sites and turned off the main drag to check ’em out.

Now, we’re not big Civil War history buffs or anything, but Chris likes history and is always interested in learning about local areas and our nation.

Fort Wead
First stop was Fort Wead, a former Union fort. It was really hard to find this site. It was smack dab in the middle of a subdivision. If it wasn’t for the large sign beside the road, we would have missed it.

It’s nice that the site was preserved, but it was awfully weird to visit a site in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

What’s left of this small fort was the earthworks and the powder magazine. Here’s a brief history on the Chesterfield Historical Society’s website.

I doubt you can read the sign, but it explains how earthworks, surrounded by a moat, was used for this fort.

This is a shot of the whole fort from the back looking forward. The fence to the far right is where the magazine was located. See all the houses? Amazing a historic site would be located in a neighborhood!

Battery Dantzler
The next stop was Battery Dantzler. Read a brief history here.

This fort also has earthworks and there are interpretive signs showing where artillery and the powder magazine were located.

The powder magazine was to the left of the platform where the interpretive signs were.

The sign shows the position of artillery weapons.

This shows a photo of the original earthworks.

From the site, you can get a great view of James River.

Confederate troops fought Union boats from here.

Monroe Park, Richmond, Va.

We stopped at Monroe Park one chilly afternoon in Richmond. The park is surrounded by Virginia Commonwealth University and is heavily used.

The day we were there it seems students were moving in. Cars lined the streets along all four sides of the park; and students and their parents pulled out sleeping bags, laundry baskets and luggage from the backs of cars.

There must have also been an event because people were serving warm soup to what seemed to be the local homeless population.

Walking through the park we’d see a sweatshirt and bags on this bench, a shirt at the foot of that tree and bags of clothes sitting in the middle of the grass without anyone nearby. It was like a large living room where people leave clothing lying on furniture and the floor. Weird.

According to this site, the college students use the park frequently for events. It’s sort of like a town square for the college, I guess.

And, in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article, the park is slated for renovations. You can learn more about the park over here, too.

Here’s just a few photos we took the day were there. If I’d thought about it, I’d taken photos of the bags of clothes, the event and the students moving in. But then that would have felt like I was invading people’s privacy, so I don’t know.

Very nice building across the street from Monroe Park.
Another nice building across one of the streets from Monroe Park.

Canal Walk and other trails, Richmond, Va.

To stretch our legs while in Richmond, we checked out the Richmond Riverfront Trail and the Canal Walk in downtown.

We parked at the Great Shiplock Park, where the Richmond Riverfront Trail starts. The park is below Tobacco Row, which I talked about here.

Here’s some Shiplock Park shots:

Parking for the Shiplock is to the right and the Riverfront Trail is just beyond that. See the brick building in the background? That’s part of Tobacco Row.

Richmond Riverfront is part of the Virginia Capital Trail, which is expected to be completed in 2014. The Capital Trail will connect Richmond, Williamsburg and Jamestown — the state’s two former capitals and current capital.

From Great Shiplock Park, Richmond Riverfront Trail heads west, following along Dock Street. To the south of the trail is a canal and a railroad bridge. Sidney was pretty scared of the train that passed on the bridge overhead. Other than watching for glass shards and the train, we liked this part of our walk, though it’s not very scenic.

Tobacco Row is to the right. The canal is to the left.
I think this is actually part of the Canal Walk or this is where Riverfront and Canal join.

The paved Riverfront Trail connects to the Canal Walk 1/2 mile away. I enjoyed this part of the walk best.

The Canal Walk follows along two canals and is decorated with murals and historical markers up and down the trail. It’s just over a mile and sections of it is lined with benches and trees. I thought it was very pleasant and would be a good place to take a lunch to escape during a work day. I would love to see what the tree-lined walk looks like in the spring!

Someone seems bored with this section of the trail.

This is so pretty! I love it!

If you decide to explore these trails, the Richmond Slave Trail, which explores the history of the city’s pre-Civil War slave trade, is also nearby.

Richmond, Va.

Last week, the family and I headed to Richmond, Va., for a weekend trip. That includes Sidney! We found a nice hotel that would take our pup. (Thanks, Residence Inn!)

It was a very nice trip and I didn’t think about work or any stressful issues the whole weekend. We ate fabulous food, saw beautiful things and enjoyed time as a family.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll share some of the things we saw and did while on our way to and in our state capital.

First up, I want to show you some architecture we snapped photos of. There were lots of beautiful buildings and homes in the area. I won’t show all of them here. There will be more in future posts specific to neighborhoods and areas we checked out.

So, here we go:

Main Street Station and the Farmers Market

Main Street Station is still in use today. It started rail service again in 2003 after it was shut down in 1975, according to the city’s website. It’s a beaux arts building that sits very close to I-95. After walking Sidney around downtown, we went in to check out the interior. Beautiful!

It would be cool to take a train from this station to Washington, D.C., or other areas up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

See Main Street Station next to the bridge on the left? The farmers market is on the corner here.
There weren’t very many people at the Farmers Market, but it’s got a nice set up near the Main Street Station.

Tobacco Row

Tobacco Row is an area of former tobacco warehouses and buildings that are above Dock Street and the canal. Most of the buildings now appear to be lofts, apartments and restaurants.

The old Lucky Strike building and smoke stack.

Cary Street, looking down Tobacco Row. Dock Street and the canal are to the right, down an embankment.

Evidence that a trolley car once operated on this street.

One tobacco building is now home to the Virginia Holocaust Museum. We did not go in. Chris has visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. and he wasn’t interested in going through another. I, however, hope to visit the D.C. museum one day.

This is behind the Virginia Holocaust Museum. Do you see the “Halt” sign on the gate? It also says “Stoj!,” which I believe is Polish for “stop.”
This is a prop located behind the Holocaust Museum.

Probably the coolest buildings are the River Lofts at Tobacco Row — apartments built in the historic tobacco warehouses.

One building’s exterior walls are still up, but the interior has been demolished and turned into a courtyard for residents. It is a very interesting reuse of a historic building.

The smoke stack still stands in the courtyard and has a fountain around it.

Some walls still remain in the building and are visually appealing to the courtyard, I think.

This is the fountain surrounding the smoke stack, which is the darker brick in the upper left of the photo.

Plantings are set around the courtyard to bring nature indoors (or maybe this is now considered outdoors) and there are many tables and chairs for residents and their guests to use.

We were tempted to tour one of the lofts, but, pressed for time, we decided against it.