The Great Shiplock Park is as small riverfront park that provides a quiet place to watch the tidal James River as well as a place to learn a little about Richmond’s transportation history. The park, which serves as the western trailhead to the 52-mile Virginia Capital Trail, is part of the James River Park system. It contains an operational canal lock that was built from 1850-1854. It also is home to the remnants of the Trigg Shipyard that was in operation from 1898 through 1903. A small lift bridge, owned by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, is also contained within the park.
provides an informational kiosk, numerous interpretive signs and commemorative
markers all detailing the lock, Trigg Shipyard and natural aspects of the park. The granite canal lock was once part of the
James River and Kanawha Canal that permitted ships to bypass seven miles of
rapids and falls along the river and connected the James to the Richmond
Dock. The canal used the lock, and
others like it, to raise ships many feet above sea level as they made their way
to the interior of Virginia or to Richmond.
The Trigg Shipyard, while only in operation for a short time, produced
several vessels utilized by the U.S. Navy and its ship launching facility still
provides access to Chapel Island via a small bridge as well as access to a
small, if somewhat muddy beach area. In
turn, the small beach area provides an ideal place to launch kayaks and paddle
boards. The park also gives access to
the Virginia Capital Trail that connects Richmond to Williamsburg and is used
by both hikers, joggers, and cyclists. Finally,
the park is also known as a good fishing spot by local residents.