The Chickahominy Tribe
The Chickahominy Tribe originally lived in permanent villages along the Chickahominy River. The Chickahominy were among the first indigenous people to encounter European settlers. Tribal members helped the settlers survive during their first few winters and taught them how to grow and preserve food. The Treaty of 1646 displaced the Chickahominy and set aside land for them in the Pamunkey Neck area of Virginia.
Dugout canoes like the one depicted below, made from bald cypress logs, were used for fishing and transportation on the Chickahominy Tribe's "Main Street" — the Chickahominy River.
Major General George B. McClellan's Chickahominy River Bridges
Nearby stood the Grapevine Bridge constructed by the 5th New Hampshire Infantry under Colonel Edward E. Cross in May of 1862. The bridge was built to move men and supplies across the river in advance of the Battle of Seven Pines. The Battle of Seven Pines took place on May 31 and June 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive up the Virginia Peninsula by Union Major General George B. McClellan, in which the Army of the Potomac reached the outskirts of Richmond.
"In view of the particular character of the Chickahominy, and the liability of its bottom land to sudden inundation, it became necessary to construct between Bottom's Bridge and Mechanicsville eleven new bridges, all long and difficult, with extensive log-way approaches."
Major General George B. McClellan
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Welcome to the Chickahominy Water Trail, a segment of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. As you retrace the voyages of Captain John Smith on the Chickahominy River, you can rediscover the Virginia he encountered—its natural splendor and rich Native culture. As you explore the Chickahominy River, imagine the abundance that greeted Smith and his fellow Englishmen. Great schools of fish teemed in the clear river, bald cypress trees grew tall along the shore, and overhead waterfowl ﬂew in ﬂocks so thick the sky darkened as they passed.
"The Chickahominy Swamp"
Paddlers and anglers exploring this section of the River should be prepared to experience a swamplike wilderness. Navigation of this section of the Chickahominy Water Trail is physically challenging due to natural obstructions in the river corridor. Paddlers should be prepared to disembark from their boat to portage around natural obstacles.
Public River Access
In an effort to increase public access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, this site was formalized for public river access by the James River Association, Henrico County, and the Virginia Department of Transportation using funding from the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay. Improvements to the site were completed by volunteers who revegetated the site with native trees and shrub species, improved the trail leading to the river, and installed the canoe and kayak launch.
The Chickahominy River is an ideal destination for the sportsman and wildlife watcher alike. Much of the river is graced with wetlands and forested shorelines reminiscent of landscapes from hundreds of years ago. Near the mouth of the river is the only Virginia Wildlife Management Area in the coastal plain that consists mainly of woodlands and is managed primarily for upland wildlife.