Travel Tips & Adventures

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Travel To Richmond, Virginia’s Civil War Battlefield Tour

A greatly expanded visitor’s center is now located at the former Tredegar Iron Works overlooking the James River. The former foundry pushed out cannons and high quality munitions for the Confederacy during the Civil War along with steam locomotives. Fortunately the building survived the burning of Richmond in April 1865 as Confederate troops were ordered to destroy munitions plants as they evacuated the city.

Rumor has it that the owner of the building “hired” armed guards to keep the arsonists away. Thus, Tredegar is one of only a few buildings that survived the burning of Richmond.In 2006,The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar opened to the public. What makes the center especially interesting is that it doesn’t take sides as it interprets the events of 1861-1865 from the view of the Confederates, Union and African Americans.

This highly acclaimed center contains interactive theaters, plasma-screen maps, and artifacts about the Civil War, especially within the Richmond area.

Also on site is the Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitors Center from which you can begin your tour of the battlefields surrounding Richmond.

There is a parking fee on the premises, but is it not hard to find free parking near the center.

American Civil War Center / Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitors Center
470 Tredegar Street
9AM – 5PM
(Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day)

Driving Tour

Once you leave Tredegar there are several options. For those who have seen all they care to, go have a drink, or lunch in the Bottom (Shockoe Bottom). For those who want to get a closer look at some, or all, of the battlefields and the medical museum, hop in your car.

Remember the entire tour is 80 miles! So, make sure you have a map, and even a GPS if your map skills aren’t up to the test. And also remember … just because they (National Park Service) say this can all be done in a day, it ain’t necessarily so.
With the addition of the Tredegar exhibits folded into the driving tour, which includes stopping at two additional visitors’ centers, it’s truly a matter of how much time you have to spend, or WANT to spend.

So, if you don’t want to wisk around the outskirts of Richmond while your passengers point at signs as you drive by 80 miles an hour to the next destination (as my uncle would have done), you might want to break this up into two days.

Hint: If you have already printed out the NPS map from their website you can actually start early as the battlefields are open from dawn to dusk.


Two smaller visitor centers, also with exhibits, are open at Chimborazo Medical Museum (in the city) and Cold Harbor Battlefield. There are also seasonal visitors’ centers at Fort Harrison Battlefield and the Glendale Cemetery Lodge.

Interpretive signs and audio stations are located at Chickahominy Bluff, Malvern Hill, Fort Harrison, and Drewry’s Bluff.

My comment earlier about pointing at passing signs while driving at Indianapolis Raceway speeds was aimed at slowing you down, and actually getting you out of the car.

Although not a Civil War authority, I am educated in Revolutionary War history and know the humbling experience of walking on the ground where previous generations have fought for what they believed in. And, I have walked on almost every battleground mentioned in this article as well.

Do yourself a favor, slow down and soak up a little history.

Visitor Centers
Chimborazo and Cold Harbor
Daily 9am to 5 pm.

Glendale and Fort Harrison
Daily June through August, 9am to 5pm.

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