Richmond’s Canal Walk: A Staple of its History and Future

Cinco de Mayo at Casa Del Barco

Cinco de Mayo at Casa Del Barco

If you haven’t been down to Richmond’s Canal Walk lately, there’s a lot going on. This unique part of Richmond is chock full of history and has come alive now that we’re into the spring months.

This past weekend, the Que Pasa Festival, a celebration of the food, music, and art of Virginia’s Latin American communities, took place on the Canal Turning Basin. The latin sounds of Richmond favorite Ban Caribe filled the air inside Casa Del Barco–which features more than 150 agave-based tequilas. Nearby, blues rockers Vintage Trouble lit up Brown’s Island with funky, soulful beats.

The Canal Walk area has been abuzz since 1785, when George Washington surveyed the route for the canal–the purpose of which was to transport people and goods between the western counties of Virginia and Richmond upon completion.

During the Civil War, the area was home to Tredegar Iron Works, one of the largest iron foundries in the nation and whose gun foundry played an important role in the war.

In 1900, the city’s first power plant was constructed, which powered Richmond’s electric street car system–the first such network in the country. Both buildings remain intact today.

By 1995, the city was abuzz about a about a multi-million dollar investment to fix up the Canal Walk–a plan that came to fruition. A video from WTVR’s Video Vault captures the excitement.

If you’ve yet to take a stroll down the canal, there are plenty opportunities this year. Friday Cheers, the aforementioned weekly outdoor music series (now in its 30th year) runs through the end of June. Outdoor lifestyle festival Dominion Riverrock brings trail, bike and kayak races, among other events, to Brown’s Island on May 25. Finally, the Richmond Folk Festival, the largest of its kind in the nation, celebrates its 10th year on the island October 10-12.

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About Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson is the Director of Client Services at VANCE, a social media addict, and lover of all things RVA.