The Tredegar Iron Works was one of the nation's largest and best-equipped ironworks in 1860.
At its height, this industrial powerhouse employed Richmond's largest industrial working force, approximately 800 free and slave laborers—a figure exceeded by only three other ironworks in theUnited States. Today, Historic Tredegar is operated by the private not-for-profit American Civil War Center in partnership with the Richmond National Battlefield Park of the National Park Service.
Historic Tredegar Your Gateway To The Civil War
The pattern storage building was constructed around 1867 on the remains of a fire-damaged mill built in 1854. The earlier building produced flour until 1860 and then wood products during the first two years of the Civil War. The 1867 building held patterns for casting guns, railroad wheels, and machinery. Tredegar Iron Works produced more than half of the cannon used by the Confederacy during the war, much of it cast in the 1861 gun foundry. Other surviving structures include the company store, carpentry shop, and Civil War-era office building. In addition, on the property's upper level, sections of the original James River & Kanawha Canal remain as well as a number of industrial artifacts.
Today, the pattern building serves as the orientation and ticketing area for the site, as well as the main Visitor Center for the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Inside, you will find exhibits about the city's war years, and films and information about area battlefields and other historic sites. The gun foundry houses In the Cause of Liberty, an interactive exhibition that explores the causes, course and legacies of the war from Union, Confederate and African American perspectives.
Your ticket, purchases and donations help protect and interpret this National Historic Landmark.
The Tredegar Iron Works site operated from 1836 until 1952. More than 50 different buildings were constructed here during those years based on operational needs during that span of time. As a facility aged, it was torn down and another built in its place. After a devastating fire and decreasing demand for iron products, Tredegar's operations ceased at this site in 1952.
Throughout the property exhibits, water way remnants and artifacts related to the iron workers and industrial operation at Tredegar can be found. In addition, the statue depicting Abraham Lincoln's visit to Richmond in April 1865 is also displayed. The President toured the city just days after it fell to Union forces, while it still smoldered from the devastating evacuation fires.
The James River and Kanawha Canal was the lifeline to Tredegar. The water wheels, turbines, and other machinery located throughout the site were powered by this important water source. Additionally, Tredegar's location made for easier transporting of raw materials and finished goods.
In 1848, Joseph Reid Anderson became the owner of Tredegar Iron Works. Anderson was an civil engineer, industrialist, and soldier. During the Civil War he served as a Confederate general, and Tredegar was the major source of munitions and ordnance for the Confederate States forces.
Anderson was a leading industrialist in the South and his foundry on the James River was one of the largest in the United States, producing steam locomotives, boilers, cables, naval hardware, and cannon. Using slave and free labor, Anderson supervised ordnance and munitions production through most of the war.