JRP - Pumphouse  LbNA # 4362 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateJun 9 2003
CountyRichmond city
LocationRichmond, VA
Found By (hidden)
Hike Distance?

James River Parks - Pumphouse/3-Mile Lock Park
City of Richmond
Trail description: Steep banks narrow paths, uneven ground, open water, vertical walled locks and mosquitoes

Last checked on 12/10/05

The entrance to Pumphouse/3-Mile Lock Park is on Pumphouse Drive which is just north of the Nickel Bridge.

As you enter the park, take the first trail to the right and go up the hill, on the left you will notice one of the steep banks in this park. If you kneel by the tree, you will notice an old rock quarry below at 220 degrees. Your first letterbox is down there. I don’t recommend a straight path to it.

Continue on the path. At the fork, go right. Soon you will be heading downhill. You will see the Pumphouse Canal below you, which supplied water to the Pumphouse, which you will see later.

At the T-intersection turn, turn left. As you are following the path down river, you will go up and down a hill, until you come to the rock quarry you saw from above.

Climb down the rocks on the right. At the bottom, turn around and you will notice a small opening under one of the large flat rocks (you most likely stepped on the rock when you came down). Behind the small rock is the first letterbox.

After logging in, continue on the path toward the canal. Cross the bridge.

On the left is the Pumphouse. Its architecture is Victorian Gothic and was built in 1882. It served two purposes: a pumping station to take water from the James River to the Byrd Park Reservoir, and as an open air public dance hall. It was abandoned in 1924. Once slated for demolition, the Pumphouse is undergoing restoration.

In front of you is Lock #1. This is part of the Kanawha Canal. It was opened in 1820’s.

Head upriver but do not go down the stairs. You will eventually come to Lock #2. These locks are called the 3-Mile Locks because they are three miles from the Great Basin in downtown Richmond.

Cross the second bridge.

Go to the wooden overlook for your next history lesson. Below you is the James River Canal (it has seen better days but hopefully will be restored one day). Below and to your right is the Lower Arch. This is part of the original canal built in 1789 which is the first operational canal system in the United States. George Washington, considered the father of this and other canal systems, passed through here in 1791.

Turn around and head downriver. You are walking on the towpath for the Kanawha Canal. When the canal was in operation, horses pulled boats up river through the locks.

When you come to a fork, head to the right. You are crossing a dry section of the James River Canal.

The path veers to the left. As you walk toward the pumphouse you should notice a pile of cement slabs that are covered with moss on the hill on the right. On the west side of this pile, behind a slab that is on the bottom of the pile is the letterbox. The letterbox is on the ground behind a small rock.

After you log in take a few seconds to walk a little further to get a good view of the pumphouse. Hopefully in a few years you will be able to see events going on on the second floor of the Pumphouse.

To return to your car return to the Kanawha Canal Towpath. Take a right. Climb the stairs, cross the bridge and up the hill to your car