From this point you can see the remains of three different canals. Two of these canals were for transportation. One was for drinking water.
Look to your right: The flat, slow channel is the water supply for the Byrd Park Pump House.
Dug between 1880 and 1882, it provided both a source of drinking water and the power to pump it.
Note how it is joined to the Kanawha Canal ahead. The boards block the canal locks and divert water to the upper canal.
The Kanawha canal was closed to commercial transportation when railroad tracks were laid on its towpath — visible across the footbridge to your left.
Look ahead: The granite walls under the footbridge comprise Lock Number Two of the Three Mile Locks, part of the Kanawha Canal.
The lock could fit a boat measuring 91 feet long and 14 1/2 feet wide. Able to accommodate bulk cargo like grain and tobacco, canal boats were the safest and fastest way to move heavy freight. Smooth and stable, allowing both sleeping and dining, they were also the epitome of passenger travel.
The canal ran nearly 200 miles from Richmond to Buchanan, Virginia. Originally it was intended to reach the Kanawha River, creating a water highway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ohio Valley.
to your left: Beyond the footbridge is a wide, dry trench. It is all that remains of the James River Canal.
Dug in the 1780's, it is the main part of the first transportation canal system in the Nation. It provided a safe route around the rapids of the James River.
The park plan is to re-water the canal and other boat rides. To foster this dream, donations can be made to the James Park Fund, 4001 Riverside Drive, Richmond, VA 23225.