Parks & Rec breaks ground on historical Ironworks project

Work has finally been set into motion to develop a park for the Falling Creek Ironworks with a formal ground breaking ceremony last Saturday held at the entrance of the site during the annual Falling Creek Ironworks Foundation annual celebration. The $823,000 project is about to get underway.

At a September 1992 public meeting on historic resources in the Jefferson Davis corridor, a large majority of attendees indicated their desire to focus on the Falling Creek Ironworks as a key site in the area. The idea of promoting this site had been around for many years. The park got a boost when the members of Jefferson Davis Association formed the Falling Creek Ironworks Foundation. Norma Corbin, the foundation’s president, has worked tirelessly over the years keeping the park at the forefront with county leaders.

Corbin introduced the platform speakers that included Dorothy Jaeckle, Bermuda District Supervisor, Mike Golden, Director of Parks and Recreation, Lyle Browning, lead archeologist for the site, and Susan Townsend, representative with the Daughters of the Confederacy.

As Corbin introduced Jaeckle, she said, “This day is due to a joint effort with everyone here today.”

Jaeckle thanked Corbin for her work on the project. “Norma’s persistence with me when I came into office and letting me know that money was still available for the project kept me focused on moving it forward,” she said.  “She is a great citizen.”

Golden thanked representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for the grant of $545,000 the county received for the initial phase. The remainder of the $823,000 project cost will be paid for by the county. He specifically thanked Bob Terrell, who is now retired from VDOT.  “We wouldn’t be here without this grant from VDOT,” he said.  Terrell said he was happy to see the project get underway.  “It is a good one.”

Chief Kevin Brown of the Pamunkey Tribe, which was the warrior tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy who had villages all around Falling Creek, blessed the ground before the ground breaking took place.

The park will promote the rich historic and industrial heritage of the Falling Creek area from the 1619-1622 Virginia Company Falling Creek Ironworks to Cary’s Chesterfield Forge to the last operations in the 20th century of William Byrd’s 17th century gristmill. The first phase of the construction will include 10 to 20 interpretive signs that will tell the story of the Ironworks and the foundary, an enhanced overlook area, and a 20- to 25-car parking lot. The streetscape project will include a 400-foot sidewalk in front of the project on both sides of Jefferson Davis Highway as well the removal of a median to provide easy access for residents of the Falling Creek Apartments as well as visitors to the site. The project is scheduled for completion in November of this year.

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