One of the most beautiful tidal stretches of the James River is more accessible to boaters today, thanks to a new boat ramp in Charles City County made possible by a $120,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic organization for Dominion Resources Inc.
Dominion, Charles City County and the Chesapeake Conservancy officials cut the ribbon today to open the boat landing at Lawrence Lewis Jr. River Park.
“The James River is Virginia’s treasure, bound intrinsically to its history and commerce,” said Robert M. Blue, senior vice president-Law, Public Policy and Environment, State and Federal Affairs. “Dominion believes that the best way to help people appreciate and protect the river is to get them to travel its waters, explore its wonders and marvel at its beauty. We are proud to have played a role in creating this new landing that will open the river to even more people.”
The opening culminates a 20-year effort by county officials and river enthusiasts to have a boat ramp built at the historic 24-acre park, which is where the Union Army crossed the James River in 1864 to lay siege to Confederate forces in Petersburg during the Civil War.
“This is a dream finally come true,” said Floyd H. Miles Sr., chairman of Charles City County Board of Supervisors. “Thanks to the support of Dominion, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Chesapeake Conservancy, our residents can now enjoy the beauty and the history of the James River without having to tow their boats to another jurisdiction.”
In addition to Dominion’s funding, the county provided $125,000 and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation put in $50,000. The county built the 50-foot by 28-foot concrete ramp which also has two tending piers, a bulkhead for protection and parking for 12 boat trailers.
The new ramp provides the only boating access on the north side of the James River for a 36-mile stretch that runs from Henrico County to James City County. The ramp will also serve as an important access point to the James River Section of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The Capt. John Smith Trail is a water route that follows the course of the English explorer on his voyage to map the Chesapeake Bay in 1607.
The Chesapeake Conservancy, based in Annapolis, Md., has a goal of developing new access points along the bay and its rivers. The conservancy sought and received the Dominion Foundation grant that provided the final dollars to make the ramp a reality.
“Improved access is vital to helping even more people develop an appreciation for nature and to help build support for the restoration of the bay and its rivers,” said Joanna Ogburn, program director for the Chesapeake Conservancy. “This new landing in Charles City County provides access to a long and beautiful stretch of the James, and we encourage canoeists, kayakers and boaters to follow Capt. Smith’s lead and get out and explore.”