Great Ship Lock

Great Ship Lock (HMVY3)

Location: Richmond, VA 23223
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 31.54', W 77° 25.254'

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The first Great Ship Lock was built in 1816. It connected the navigable part of the James River with the Richmond city dock, which extended for 10 blocks to the west. The lock raised sailing ships and steamboats approximately 13 feet above the tidewater of the river into the harbor, safe from the river current, for loading and unloading cargo. In 1854, the James River and Kanawha Company constructed the present Great Ship Lock to accommodate ships as large as 180 feet long by 35 feet wide. It opened the city to transatlantic trade and made Richmond a world port.

Richmond Trade in 1860

After the Great Ship Lock opened in 1854, trade increased steadily, with packets arriving from New York, Baltimore and Boston. Great Ship Lock traffic nearly doubled before the Civil War limited trade activity.

What were they carrying?
The numbers below show typical cargoes transported in and out of Richmond in 1860, the height of its trade activity.

Incoming vessels
Coal: 29,897 tons
Iron: 13,333 tons
Fish: 25,470 barrels
Oats: 27,035 bushels
Lime: 48,491 casks
Salt: 73,177 sacks
Shingles: 3,116,600

Outgoing vessels
Flour: 423,194 barrels
Wheat: 143,000 bushels
Tobacco: 56,367 packages

[graph]Traffic through the Great Ship Lock
Source: History of the James River and Kanawha Company; Wayne F Dunaway, Columbia University, 1922
HM NumberHMVY3
Year Placed2011
Placed ByVirginia Capital Trail
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 at 11:13am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 286073 N 4155942
Decimal Degrees37.52566667, -77.42090000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 31.54', W 77° 25.254'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 31' 32.40" N, 77° 25' 15.24" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757, 804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 111 Pear St, Richmond VA 23223, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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