RICHMOND, Va. -- There is a major rejuvenation program under way
along the riverfront here, and the Richmond Canal Walk is playing a
major part. Since the attraction opened in June, hordes of people,
myself included, have taken a ride on the waterway and walked along
the scenic pathways.
"We have had a very good response to the canal attraction," said
James McCarthy Jr., executive director of the Richmond Riverfront
According to McCarthy, for the attraction's first full month of
operation, more than 11,000 people took a canal boat ride.
The project has done wonders for the area, which had greatly
deteriorated and was absent of pedestrian traffic of any kind,
McCarthy said. On the real estate side, the area is being upgraded
and expanded with viable tenants in both commercial and residential
Besides bringing new life to the riverfront area, the Canal Walk
was designed to create a sort of outdoor museum with exhibits
detailing Richmond's past. McCarthy said brass medallions placed
along the walls will highlight major historical themes.
"Once the medallions are all placed, visitors will have the
option to ride on the waterway or take self-guided walking tours on
its pathways and view the commemorative medallions," he said.
Each will be inscribed with notes that relate to such events as
the Indian trade routes, tobacco warehouses, the Tredegar Iron
Works buildings or of early colonial settlements.
The specially designed canal boats can accommodate up to 38
passengers at a time on leisurely cruises narrated by boat pilot
guides. The young, appropriately costumed boat captain on my trip
kept the dialogue light and humorous enough to keep even the
youngsters on board interested.
Passengers board at a well-laid-out area called Tidewater
Connector to take the 40-minute trip on the canal system that
(history has it) originally had been envisioned by George
Washington in 1774.
Back then, Washington thought Richmond's canals should be part
of a continuous transportation route from the Atlantic Ocean to the
Mississippi River. By 1789, initial construction of portions of the
canal, which would ultimately become part of the James River and
Kanawha Canal system, had been completed to the west of downtown
Also completed by 1789 was a millrace, later known as the Haxall
Canal. The canal system eventually extended as far as Buchanan,
Va., but was replaced by the railroads after the Civil War.
Now two sections of Richmond's canals have been restored -- the
Haxall Canal from Tredegar Iron Works to 12th Street and the James
River and Kanawha Canal from 12th Street to the Triple Crossing.
The project now provides visitors and locals alike with 1.25 miles
of waterway boat tours and pedestrian paths.
Currently there are five boats operating on the canal; each is
wheelchair-accessible. Ticket prices are $4 for adults and $3 for
children and senior citizens.
Phone: (804) 644-4868