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Richmond's Canal Walk

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1

Richmond’s Canal Walk is the old canal system that was used in Richmond in the 19th Century.  Now, that canal system has been restored, and is a beautiful place to visit to relax, to exercise, to burn off stress, or just to soak in the beauty of it all.  A 3¼-mile walk from one end to the other and back, we start out at the Triple Crossing, the only triple main-line railroad crossing in the world, to the end of the canal system, near Belle Isle and where the canal system rejoins with the James River, and then return from whence we came.  The Canal Walk is in a unique spot in Richmond.  One one side, you have the James River, which the canal system is connected to.  On the other side, the city awaits you, with a quaint restored part of town at one end, and skyscrapers and the “big city” at the other end.  It makes the Canal Walk somewhat of an oasis from all of the stresses and such that come with being in a metropolitan area.

In finding the Canal Walk, and then finding parking for it, I got a crash-course in navigating Richmond, thanks to bad directions from a few different people.  I’d get sent one way, realize the directions don’t work, return to Broad Street, find somewhere else to ask, and repeat.  The third time, I got directions that worked.  What you do is if you’re traveling on East Broad Street (U.S. 250 eastbound), make a right on 14th Street.  That should drop you at the “beginning” end of the Canal Walk, by the Triple Crossing.  Parking is right across the street.

Now that we know where the Canal Walk is, come with me, and so let’s do some walking!  On some of these photos, I’m going to stay quiet, and talk about others.  Additionally, I invite you to click these photos to see them in full-size, and take in the full beauty of what is the Canal Walk, and lose yourself in these photos.


Welcome to the Canal Walk!

Welcome to the Canal Walk!


This is the point where we first join the canal, the first point where human traffic may follow the canal, at least without swimming.

This is the point where we first join the canal, the first point where human traffic may follow the canal, at least without swimming.


In the area of the Triple Crossing, three railroad lines all cross over each other.  Norfolk Southern's Richmond District occupies the street level, and CSX's Bellwood and Rivanna subdivisions occupy the middle and top levels.

In the area of the Triple Crossing, three railroad lines all cross over each other.  Norfolk Southern’s Richmond District occupies the street level, and CSX’s Bellwood and Rivanna subdivisions occupy the middle and top levels.

It was also in this spot after leaving the area and trying to find my hotel where I experienced a strange phenomenon – I knew exactly where I was (I could see the Canal Walk below me), but I was completely lost up in the world of highways on the top-level bridge.





Quaint "retro" bridges are a regular feature in this "beginning" end of the Canal Walk.

Quaint “retro” bridges are a regular feature in this “beginning” end of the Canal Walk.



La Difference... a reminder that we really are right in the middle of the city, though seemingly slightly removed from it.

La Difference… a reminder that we really are right in the middle of the city, though seemingly slightly removed from it.






Progress indicator... we will be passing most of these points of interest along the way to the far end of the Canal Walk.  Triple Cross is now behind us.  Let us continue!

Progress indicator… we will be passing most of these points of interest along the way to the far end of the Canal Walk.  Triple Cross is now behind us.  Let us continue!




An interesting light fixture sits in the middle of a wider part of the Canal.

An interesting light fixture sits in the middle of a wider part of the Canal.



Retro light fixtures complete the look for the Canal Walk, shining their light to guide all who need them by night.

Retro light fixtures complete the look for the Canal Walk, shining their light to guide all who need them by night.




This completes the first "phase" of the Canal Walk - now, let's prepare to pass under the Reynolds Aluminum building, and continue to phase two.  The canal will possess a distinctly different character as we continue.

This completes the first “phase” of the Canal Walk – now, let’s prepare to pass under the Reynolds Aluminum building, and continue to phase two.  The canal will possess a distinctly different character as we continue.




One thing that was strange about this area is that we had to take a circuitous path around the Reynolds Aluminum building after going under part of it.  This stairwell was just such a thing, making this perhaps the single most unusual part of the entire walk.

One thing that was strange about this area is that we had to take a circuitous path around the Reynolds Aluminum building after going under part of it.  This stairwell was just such a thing, making this perhaps the single most unusual part of the entire walk.


However, the circuitousness of the walk did afford us a view of the old lock system.  Nowadays, these locks are bypassed entirely, and the water is pumped from one end to the other.

However, the circuitousness of the walk did afford us a view of the old lock system.  Nowadays, these locks are bypassed entirely, and the water is pumped from one end to the other.



This was the only part where you had to do any guesswork.  You went out of a strange door to leave Reynolds Aluminum, and came into this opening.  Off to the right of this photo, you went to downtown Richmond.  Off to the left, it appeared to dead-end.

This was the only part where you had to do any guesswork.  You went out of a strange door to leave Reynolds Aluminum, and came into this opening.  Off to the right of this photo, you went to downtown Richmond.  Off to the left, it appeared to dead-end.

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1