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Chapter 31 - I-95 South, Halfway House & Drewry’s Bluff (Fort Darling)

They crossed the James River on the Interstate-95 bridge, heading south into the industrial pit of Richmond.

 

To the left, the eternal methane flame burned above the Richmond Wastewater Treatment Facility.

 

Farther down, they passed the Philip Morris plant, where Marlboros were made. The manufacturing facility, marked by a 144-foot pop-art pylon, proudly advertised its cigarette brands.

 

The pike was part of US 1, the major north–south route of the East Coast before the interstate was built.

 

About a quarter of a mile up the highway on a hill among the seedy businesses

 

was an out-of-place white colonial manor with red shutters and a double veranda on the back.

 

A signboard on a high pole announced, “Half Way House Restaurant, est. 1760, FINE DINING.”

 

They walked up the back drive to the house, went down the stairs, and opened the red door with a pineapple doorknocker.

 

After finishing their dessert of strawberry shortcake, they drove up the Jeff Davis Highway, following the National Park signs for Drewry’s Bluff, also known as Fort Darling.

 

They got out of the truck and walked hand in hand down a wide asphalt path that turned into a brown-pebbled trail, leading to the edge of the fort overlooking the James River, seven miles downstream from Richmond.

 

"The Monitor came up the river during the war. . . . In March 1862, the Monitor fought the Virginia to a stalemate at Hampton Roads in the famous first ironclad ship battle."

 

“The Federals opened fire on the bluff but were no match for the eight Confederate cannons pouring down on them from this ninety-foot cliff.”

 

Pat took her by the hand, and they walked down into the breastworks, gently crushing over last season’s oak leaves.

Half Way House

Drewry's Bluff