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Chapter 34 - New Market Heights to the Richmond Floodwall

Beside the historical highway marker for the Battle of New Market Heights, Powhatan Dubel’s outfit, the 5th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, was sponsoring a commemoration of the battle.

 

At the city limits, the highway turned into Main Street and dipped to parallel the James River at Rocketts Landing then spiraled back up.

 

Parked in a car wash lot above the intersection of Williamsburg Avenue and East Main Street, they faced the inbound traffic, waiting patiently for the reenactors to appear.

 

He followed the road through a hulking floodwall door,

 

passing a revamped portion of the James River and Kanawha Canal.

 

Under the spaghetti mesh of trestles and overpasses,

 

Gordon took Fourteenth Street to cross the low-slung, quarter-mile-long Mayo’s Bridge.

 

But to their horror, as if on cue, beside the Richmond Railroad Museum, a train started crossing the road and blocked their escape route.

 

They scaled a couple of short, open wooden fences as fast as they could with Gordon bringing up the rear and hit the start of the not-so-scenic portion of the Floodwall Walk.

 

The asphalt pathway ran beside a chain-link fence, bordering the derelict Manchester Canal in an industrial area.

 

They ran up the stairs attached to the side of the floodwall.

 

Walking instead of running, they pressed on but kept turning around to make sure they weren’t being followed while ignoring the best view of the James River and Richmond.

 

The whitewater pitched in the foreground and the skyline perched in the background.

 

To the left and right, railroad and highway bridges crossed the river,

 

and ospreys fished overhead.

 

They continued along the top of the serpentine floodwall, impaling the riverbank.

 

“Hey, there’s the top of the state capitol.” Hezekiah said, sightseeing. He pointed across the river to the pediment tucked in behind the high-rises.

 

They followed the trail, going under the Manchester Bridge. Once under the bridge, the floodwall turned into a levee, reinforced on the sides with seawall stone.

 

The trail looped around and up to an overlook with a view of a row of brown granite abutments evenly placed across the river. The abutments had supported a bridge for the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad.

 

Hezekiah, Pat, and Gordon stood at the edge of the overlook built over the first abutment, now a rock climber’s challenge referred to as the Manchester Wall.

New Market Heights USCT Medal of Honor Recipients

Richmond Canal Cruises

Richmond Canal Walk

Richmond RailRoad Museum

Richmond Floodwall Walk

Manchester Climbing Wall