Ok I'm totally confused. Here is an old map dating from about 1865 and it shows what I understood to be the way this land once looked. http://www.beyondthecrater.com/siege-of-petersburg-resources/maps/petersburg-campaign-maps/other-siege-of-petersburg-maps/section-through-dutch-gap-james-river-va-or-atlas-657/
R.W.: Yes it is confusing. Thanks for that map. I hadn't seen it before. To start with, Farrar's Island was never really an island. It was a high bluff in a loop of the river prehistorically connected to the north bank of the river by a narrow strip of land. During the Civil War the narrow neck (Dutch Gap) was cut through to bypass the southern loop of the river, shortening the distance from Richmond to the sea. Sometime later the low-lying land just upstream was cut through also, giving vessels a straight shot past both loops of the river. It looks like water still flows through the northern loop, forming Hatcher's Island.
It's a weird tract of land. My Buddy and I used to fish there and have walked the park trail and also gotten off the trail to explore. To just look at the map is misleading, parts of the land really aren't land. Some of it is marsh and some of it is open water. There are the square islands back in there. Square? Yep square. Turns out they are old sunken barges at their core, but they've now got trees and vegetation well established on them. Then dotted all along the old original river shore line of there are the ruins of many small piers that are usually surrounded by millions of oyster shells. To have that many shells around they must have had packing houses near the piers at one time, but I've never seen any building ruins. Canning comes into being around the time of the civil war so they must have thrived right after the war. This coincides with the time period when the Chesapeake Bay was producing 2/3rds of all commercially packed oysters in the world. There are two small ponds back there also. The largest pond judging from old maps was once a marsh that they have damned the end of, the smaller one is an old quarry where they accidently dug into a natural spring and flooded it. (FYI it's now one of my favorite places to fish.) All of what I have just described is seldom visited and is accessed by a foot trail/road that is on a narrow ribbon of dry land. It's also loaded with wildlife. Again when looking at the map there is a large area of park land that abuts the new straight Dutch Gap main channel of the river. This is a very wet marsh area with lots of tall trees that is an unaccessible area for foot traffic and it is where the river once flowed. It is now known as one of the best places on the east coast to spot bald eagles nesting. There are numerous bird watching stations surrounding it. This is the most popular area of the "nature" part of the park. The historical re-creation area of Henricus seems to be getting larger and more elaborate every year. The historical re-creation "events" there are rapidly being developed also. It's way more developed than it was when your photos were taken. The photo I took of the large building in the re-created city.... behind it you would notice AC and other modern hook ups. It's houses a modern meeting/conference hall inside. I hope that you are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving.
This is all very interesting. I'm glad to hear the local history events are popular. It's good to get kids outdoors and away from their screens. Maybe I can catch one if I'm passing through in the summer.
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Photo taken in Bermuda, VA, USA
Misplaced? Suggest new location