I recently had the pleasure of exploring Great Shiplock Park in Shockoe Bottom. My mother was born and mostly raised here in Richmond but moved to Northern Virginia. I never really got the chance to come visit or see anything more than the VCU campus and a brief view of the University of Richmond.
Of course, when I first started this semester, my roommate and I did some urban exploring but our feet couldn’t take us to the places I wanted to go. So this past weekend I my mom visited and showed me the sights. Specifically, Great Shiplock Park on Pear Street in Shockoe Bottom.
There’s a beautiful panoramic to be seen here. The day was beautiful and the water was still. There’s a view of the warehouses and water tower that sums up the city for me. When I stepped out of the car, there was a guy reading on a bench and a couple getting ready to kayak on the James River. It was a little windy and the sounds of the city were a little more muted than normal. All that existed was the water running through the canal and the passing of cars a few yards back on Dock Street.
Behind where I stood there was a bridge of rusted copper and steel rafters. I took this photo in my car before stepping out into the beautiful weather. After looking around the park, I stepped onto one of the small bridges built on a small lock. A man jogged past me and my mom stood in the parking lot. It felt a little strange that somewhere so quiet when just the day before I was overwhelmed by sirens and loud voices. It was peaceful and I needed the break.
The small lock seemed well kept and it was exciting to feel the cool metal as I stood across the small canal. The feeling of being near water was invigorating. As a former rower and kayaker, being near any type of water is rejuvenating in a way that many can’t understand. It makes me remember the times I spent rowing, slicing through the water, and enjoying the feel of sea mist on my face when kayaking off Tybee Island in Georgia.
As I peered off the side of the bridge there were turtles in the water making brief appearances. I was actually pretty surprised by that. The water didn’t seem the cleanest. I know the water will feed into the James so it’s going to disperse but it still didn’t seem like it would have so much life in it. How did they even get in there anyway? The James is further down an dammed by a lock. Upstream is a tiny creek. It was something for thought.
When I got to the other side there was a jogger resting and a lot silence. It was peaceful in a way campus can never be.
If you turn around and look up you can see the lucky strike building way up the hill with it’s smoke stack splitting the sky.
The water could honestly be cleaner.
I love this photo. It captures the mix between man-made and nature. The bricks are overgrown but they still stand. The water pours through but the dam does its job. It makes me wish there was an outdoor study area on campus that has running water. A place to hangout that is a mix of industrial and natural. No, the fountains in Monroe park do not count. Something bigger! Something more inviting! A canal!