Small Parcel; Significant History

by Jon Baliles

There was some great news last week as the Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) scored another big win on behalf of the city when it announced the successfully negotiated purchase of 4.5 acres along the James River from Norfolk Southern near Ancarrow’s Landing. The parcel will be placed into the James River Park System conservation easement, transferred to the City of Richmond, and become part of the park system.

According to the CRLC, the property is 130-feet wide and 2,300-feet long with more than a quarter mile of frontage along the river, and much of the property is part of the Richmond Slave Trail. As part of the Riverfront Plan in 2012, the acquired property was noted as an essential parcel that was shown on some maps as part of the James River Park System and included part of the Slave Trail that was formally dedicated in 2011; but it was still owned by the railroad, and users technically (and legally) were trespassing. Norfolk Southern had owned the property since 1849 through its predecessors, the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company (1847-1894), and Southern Railway (1894-1982).

The transfer will now guarantee public access to this part of the Richmond Slave Trail, which was born from the Richmond Slave Trail Commission begun in 1998 and is a three-mile path with 17 historical markers between the Manchester Docks from which slaves disembarked and were led to the slave jails in Shockoe Bottom, most notoriously Lumpkin’s Jail.
The CRLC is in the process of raising the $150,000 needed that will be matched by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation with their own $150,000 grant. The Friends of the James River Park System has committed $30,000, with its own challenge grant asking the public to contribute another $30,000 towards the purchase of this property. Donations can be made on CRLC’s website:

We are proud to continue our work with the City of Richmond in protecting the land that contributes to our cultural landscape and securing public access to outdoor places that we’ve grown accustomed to visiting,” said Parker Agelasto, Executive Director for Capital Region Land Conservancy. “It’s really about the public-private partnership and executing the blueprint that is outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan and small area plans like the Shockoe Project.

Score another great land preservation project led by this great non-profit — they have been busy preserving and creating green space on Mayo Island, the former Echo Harbor property next to Great Shiplock Park, and other parcels all over Varina throughout the region, and we are and will be so much better off because of these and other efforts for generations to come.

Jon Baliles is a former Richmond city councilman. Republished with permission from RVA 5×5.