Tredegar Iron Works
Richmond Virginia

Tredegar Iron Works was of vital importance during the American Civil War. It produced cannon, ammunition, small arms and other iron products including railroad rails and iron plates for ships. It was also the site of significant research and developement. The fact that it was so important was an important indication of one of the Confederacy's major problems, lack of manufacturing ability.

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001VisitorCtrPatternBuilding.JPG
001VisitorCtrPatternBuilding.JPG

This is the entrance to the Tredegar Iron Works. The cannon was modified here by having rifling added with the lathe pictured below.

002MaryLathanatWaterwheel.jpg
002MaryLathanatWaterwheel.jpg

My daughter Mary viewing the the one remaining waterwheel. Several were used to power the equipment during the Civil War era.

003Sluiceway.JPG
003Sluiceway.JPG

Okay, so I get a little "artsy" some times... This was taken under the sluiceway for the waterwheel.

004CanonFoundry.JPG
004CannonFoundry.JPG

Exterior of the Cannon Foundry. The building is used by the company who owns the property as a meeting place and is closed to the public.

005TredegarCanonB.JPG
005TredegarCannonB.JPG

This is a smooth bore 12 pound Napoleon cannon that was built at the Tredegar Iron Works.

 

 

006TredegarCanonA.JPG
006TredegarCannonA.JPG

This is another view of the cannon in the cell to the left.

 

 

007CanonFoundryDiorama.jpg
007CannonFoundryDiorama.jpg

This diorama shows what the interior of the cannon foundry looked like. The crane picture 009 and the coffin like forms for the iron are visible.

008IronSmelter.JPG
008IronSmelter.JPG

When the ironworks was in operation there were several of these smelters in operation. The "charge", a mix of ore and coke was added in the area of the upper "window" and the molten iron was drawn off at the bottom.

009Crane.JPG
009Crane.JPG

The forms and finished cannon weighed in excess of a ton. Cranes like this one were used to lift and move these while being built.

010RollingMill.JPG
010RollingMill.JPG

This is a rolling mill. It was used to turn thick plates of iron into the appropriate thinner shape. This mill was in use from Civil War days until the 1950s.

011FlywheelofRollingMill.JPG
011FlywheelofRollingMill.JPG

This is the flywheel of the rolling mill to the left. This was powered variously by belts driven by the waterwheel and then later water turbines.

012BullDozerPress.JPG
012BullDozerPress.JPG

Bull Dozer Presses like this one were used to bend the iron.

013PlatePress.JPG
013PlatePress.JPG

This is a plate press. It was used for final shaping of plates such as Fish-Plates and
Tie-Plates for railroads.

014TurningLathe.JPG
014TurningLathe.JPG

This lathe was used at Tredegar to bore the rifling of cannons.

015WaterTurbinesca1880.JPG
015WaterTurbinesca1880.JPG

After the Civil War means of using water power improved. This shows several Water Turbines. They had greater efficiency than water wheels and could have the power output adjusted.

016RichmondSkyline144.jpg
016RichmondSkyline144.jpg

Many buildings were in this area including a nail foundry. Behind the photographer (Me :-)) was an area that once held employee housing. Seen is the Woolen Building/Pattern building/Park Service Visitor Center, the company office and the Richmond skyline.

017CanonFoundryWindow.jpg
017CannonFoundryWindow.jpg

The cannon foundry and Richmond skyline from the third floor of what is now the Park Service Visitor Center. This building (where I'm standing) was called at various times the Pattern Building (Where the patterns for various products were stored.), the Woolen Mill (During the Civil War it was used for production and storage of woolen products.) and is now the Park Service Visitor Center.

018RollingMillWindow.JPG
018RollingMillWindow.JPG

In the distance is the display of the Rolling Mill. The building that once housed the Rolling Mill no longer exists.

019BaldwinLocomotive.JPG
019BaldwinLocomotive.JPG

In the 1870s and later raw material and finished products were moved around the site with small railroad engines similar to this Baldwin. In Civil War days raw material came in by the James River Canal behind where I was standing. Today, this part of the canal is dry (read a weed filled ditch).

020RichmondSkylineBelleIsle.JPG
020RichmondSkylineBelleIsle.JPG

Two islands in the James River figured in the history of the iron works. Browns Island was used as an experimental laboratory and assembly plant for rifle and cannon ammunition. The other island, Belle Island, was used as a Prisoner of War camp for Union enlisted men during the Civil War. If was one of the more horrid POW camps. Today the area is mostly unused but houses a small environmental education center and some hiking trails. The only visible remains of the POW camp is what is left of a 5 foot dirt wall that once surrounded the camp. This photo was taken from the footbridge that crosses to the island.

021CSXTressle.JPG
021CSXTressle.JPG

Today a CSX rail line follows the James River through the iron works site. This trestle is part of that line. The iron works are to the left, the river and Belle Island is to the right.

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