Her, beside the Falls of the James River, the foundation of Richmond's industry and commerce was built. The canal was the vital artery of transportation and the source of water power that nurtured industry's growth. Grain, hides, tobacco, cotton, wood, iron and coal were brought down the canal from the developing up country of Virginia. Finished products were then transported on the canal to Richmond's deepwater port below the fall line. The city became the center of industry south of the Potomac with flour mills, iron foundries, paper mills, tanneries and tobacco manufacturing. This area of the city was largely destroyed during the Great Conflagration of 1865, but the foundation of Richmond industry laid here has grown and prospered, encouraging a climate for economic development that continues today.