In Waynesboro's earliest days, the only way to cross the South River was by a ford. Fords are shallow spots in the river that offer low embankments. Travelers of this time crossed the river on foot, horseback, in a farm wagon or stagecoach.
A French officer traveling here in the late 1700s noted the Widow Tees Tavern was "200 paces from the ford." The settlement of Teasville (Teesville) later became Waynesboro.
Civil War Era
In 1855, Tredegar Iron Works built the first iron truss railroad bridge across the South River. In 1864, Union troops attempted to remove these trusses to melt them down for artillery.
By the mid-1800s, narrow wooden footbridges were built near the busiest fords. Early maps show footbridges near the present-day Main Street and Wayne Avenue bridge crossings.
At the "Battle of Waynesboro" on March 2, 1865, Confederate troops fled across a footbridge near the ford at Main Street. CSA Col. William Harman was a Waynesboro native who fought and was fatally wounded on Main Street hill. His monument is just south of the Dominion Pavilion.
Late 19th Century to the Modern Era
A development boom came to Waynesboro after four iron truss bridges were built in the 1880s. These bridges were at Main Street, Chestnut/Wayne Avenue, Lyndhurst Road and Oak Lane. All
have been replaced with modern concrete structures, beginning with the Main Street Bridge in 1934. The Broad Street Bridge, built in 1956, was reconstructed in 2013.
A once dominant feature of the downtown riverfront was the Waynesboro Flouring Mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1953. The mill stood 4 1/2 stories tall and first operated as Patterson Roller Mills (see keynote 3 on map).
A mill race diverted water power from the river to grind grain into feed or flour. The head race ran from a dam near the INVISTA footbridge and across present-day Constitution Park. The tail race rejoined South River near the present Rescue Squad.