Ancarrow's Landing

Ancarrow's Landing (HM2GPI)

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N 37° 31.188', W 77° 25.141'

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Newton Hopper Ancarrow (1920-1991):
Mr. Ancarrow was born in Richmond and earned a chemistry and physics degree from the University of Richmond. After serving in World War II, he worked for American Tobacco as a chemist, and then Experiment, Inc. as a rocket engineer. In 1957, he bought a New Jersey boat building business and relocated it to Richmond. He built the boat ramp at Ancarrow's Landing in 1965. The 250-foot launching ramp was equipped to service boats from small car-toppers to yachts and cruisers of more than 80 feet in length. It was well lit and open to the public 24 hours a day. Mr. Ancarrow started to notice that his new boat ramp was becoming covered with oily film. When he contacted city officials, they told him nothing could be done. The lack of responsiveness was frustrating for Mr. Ancarrow. It motivated him to embark on a clean river mission that would last until 1979. The city's combined sewer system and inadequate sewage treatment facilities caused sewage to be dumped in the river during heavy rains. The City of Richmond, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers were some of the targets of Mr. Ancarrow's outrage and lawsuits. He brought a jar with filthy water and a dead rat, which floated by his ramp, to the City Council meeting. Mr. Ancarrow felt the City of Richmond used the noble James

as its own private sewer.

Mr. Ancarrow took many steps at personal expense to see the James River restored to its natural state. He filmed "The Raging James", documenting the deplorable condition of the river and the effects of channelization. The film aired on public television. Views of waste pouring into the James forced Richmond and the State Water Control Board to take measures against river pollution. Mr. Ancarrow brought lawsuits against local and Federal agencies to help protect the James River ecosystem.

Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Agnes in 1972 caused the river at the boat ramp to become heavily silted and Mr. Ancarrow could not get permission to dredge. He ended business at Ancarrow Marine, Inc. and devoted all his time to photographing the wildflowers on the river banks and his clean water campaign.


From 1968 - 1971 Newton Hopper Ancarrow photographed 35,000 slides of almost 400 species of wild flowers present upon the river's banks. These photos are now housed in the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden archives. He discovered these flowers along the river while looking for illegal sewage dumping into the river.

Because of his activism Mr. Ancarrow was considered a nuisance by government authorities. As a punitive measure, his property was taken under the nebulous "Eminent Domain" clause as the City of Richmond claimed the land for future expansion of its sewer treatment plant. That expansion work never occurred. Mr. Ancarrow received no compensation for the value of his lost business, including the massive boat ramp which many now use to launch their boats to enjoy the river that Mr. Ancarrow fought so hard to protect. He took this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The suit was rejected in 1979.

Ancarrow Marine, Inc. - Fleet of the Future:

Newton Hopper Ancarrow was a pioneer boat builder who became known as an outspoken advocate of the James River. Ancarrow Marine, Inc. was known for developing the fastest and most luxurious boats of its time. Customers included sheiks from the Middle East, as well as Aristotle Onassis. Boat models boasted 60 mph speeds (unheard of in its day) and carried names such as The Aquilifer, the Patrician, and The Consul. The Consul was reported to achieve speeds in excess of 70 m.p.h.

Civil War Confederate Naval ShipYard - 1862

1864 - Boat ramp at Ancarrow Marine, Inc. built. The 250-foot launch ramp is 42 feet wide.

1969 - Mr. Ancarrow cofounded Reclaim the James, Inc.

Ancarrow Marine, Inc. hit hard by Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The buildings were damaged.

Mr. Ancarrow publicly compared the James River to Ganges River in India, stating that the pollution was worse. One of Mr. Ancarrow's Middle Eastern clients, after being asked about the state of the river and what they would do to someone who polluted a river in his countries is reported to have said, " They would be killed."

Individual images of all the slides from Ancarrow's slideshow, as well as accompanying documentation such as Ancarrow's field notebooks, the script of the slideshow, and family photographs showing some of the boats he designed, can be found at the VCU Libraries digital collection "Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive."

1974 - Newton Hopper Ancarrow was named Environmentalist of the Year by the Virginia Wildlife Federation.

1999 - Style named Ancarrow one of the most influential Richmonders of the century.

2012 - NHA named River Hero by the James River Association
Year Placed2017
Placed BySpalding Hall Troop 444
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, May 11th, 2019 at 5:03pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 286222 N 4155287
Decimal Degrees37.51980000, -77.41901667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 31.188', W 77° 25.141'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 31' 11.28" N, 77° 25' 8.4599999999999" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
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