Rocketts Landing and Wharf
Rocketts is the river frontage and community named for Robert Rockett, who operated a ferry across the James River beginning in the 1730s. Over the years, tenant laborers and merchants filled the floodplain with clusters of small houses and commercial establishments. Between 1790 and 1830 free black residents and immigrants from Germany, Scotland and Ireland also settled here. Growing opportunities in trade gradually made Rocketts a prosperous world seaport. Shipping lines connected Rocketts to Philadelphia, New York, Charleston and various South American and European ports. Tobacco and flour were the main exports.
Confederate Navy Yard
Begun in 1862, the Confederate Navy Yard occupied both sides of the James River, including the community and port of Rocketts on the north bank. The Yard was the base, construction site and headquarters for Admiral Raphael Semmes's James River Squadron. The Squadron included the ironclad CSS Virginia II, which was built here. It was the successor to the first CSS Virginia, which fought with the USS Monitor. The Confederate Navy Yard also produced prototype artillery mounted on a railroad car for General Robert F. Lee's use at the Battle of Savage's Station on June 29, 1862. On April 3, 1865, Confederate troops burned the yard and destroyed vessels as a part of the evacuation of Richmond.
Powhatan, paramount chief of Algonquian-speaking Indians of Virginia's coastal plain, was born in a town east of here. Powhatan's supremacy in this region provided order and protection for the tribes in his chiefdom. Virginia's Indians lived in towns, sore protected by wooden palisades, and surrounded by fields for growing vegetables, grain and corn. In 1607, when Jamestown's colonists were foraging for food north of the settlement, Captain John Smith was captured and brought before Powhatan at his center of power on the York River. Smith later claimed that Pocahontas, Powhatan's favorite daughter, intervened to save Smith. Powhatan "adopted" Smith into the chiefdom and allowed him to return to Jamestown.
Immediately beyond the Great Ship Lock was the S.H. Hawes and Co. coal yard (ca. 1880-1925). After 1925 it was used as a sand and gravel yard and concrete plant until the 1990s. Beyond the yard were wharves for passenger steamships, first the Old Dominion Steam Ship Co. for eservice to New York (ca. 1875-1935), and beyond that the Buxton Line. Distance: 0.1-0.2 mile
Rocketts Landing is a modern residential area. Previously it was the site of the Yuengling James River Steam Brewery (1870s), the Richmond Cedar Works (1880s-1950s) and the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Works. Distance: 0.6-0.9 mile
Confederate Navy Yard — South
The main Confederate Navy Yard (burned April 1865) was located on the south bank of the river. Later the site was occupied by the Allison & Addison fertilizer plant and by wharves for the Richmond & Danville and Southern railroads. Distance: 0.2-0.3 mile
Confederate Navy Yard — North
The north bank section of the Confederate Navy Yard (burned April 1865) is today occupied by the silos and plant built by the Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in the late 1940s. Distance: 0.25 miles
The north bank area has served a s a public wharf since the 18th century. In 1933, it became the City of Richmond Intermediate Terminal. Distance: 0.3 mile
This site was occupied by the Algonquin in 1607-1609 and then traded to the English. The site is at Tree Hill, on the north bank, off Route 5 beyond Almond Creek. Distance: 1.7 miles