The Richmond History Podcast

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fredericksburg Trolley Tour

Interior of the Fredericksburg Trolley
After a quick 50 minute ride north on I95 from Richmond, my friend Stevens and I stopped in Fredericksburg for a trolley tour.  Fredericksburg was founded 284 years ago and parts don't look like they have changed much.  We arrived at the visitor's center on the corner of Charlotte and Caroline St a bit early.  That gave us plenty of time to use the rest room (recommended, it is a 2 hour tour, no stops) enough time to spend a few minutes chatting with nice ladies in the visitor center and our guide/driver, Mark.
Mark, a very nice guy, explained that he had been doing the tour for about 15 years.  His delivery proved he was telling the truth.  He was very knowledgeable, corny to the point of funny, and continuously dropped knowledge.  At times the tour was a little to heavy with dates and short tidbits, but he mixed in some good stories even stopping at times to tell more elaborate stories.  He also made good use of photos to move his stories along, like the photo of Fredrick, Prince of Wales, the name sake of the city, who he said was believed to have been killed in a tennis accident.*  The city is quite dense so there was some over lap of terrain but Mark took that opportunity to point out a few restaurants, the antique market, and the Cat Closet, A Cat Lover's Emporium, (really?  that exists?).
Here are a few highlights.
I am a huge James Monroe fan so I will leave all of that until I can write a whole post on the Monroe Museum in Fredericksburg.

I wish I got a photo of the two foot high, cylindrical stone, randomly jutting out on a corner sidewalk.  It was a carriage step thought to have been also used as slave auction block. Next time.

Rappahannock River on the beautifully gray tour day, photo by Jeff Majer
Fredericksburg is situated in the  fall line of the Rappahannock River making it an important port city in its beginning.  George Washington grew up across Rappahannock.  If he was to have chopped down a cherry tree, (which he probably didn't) it would have been in the area across the river from Fredericksburg.  The day we were there it was rainy.  Normally the river is slightly more pretty.

Box wood's became associated with the Irish Union troops after their flag was shot to bits at Appomattox. The new flag they ordered hadn't arrived by the time the got to Fredericksburg, so they put sprigs of boxwood in their hats as identification.

Mary Ball Washington's mom's grave
George Washington bought his mom, Martha Ball Washington a home in Fredericksburg.  Her home is still standing with some original floor boards.  The building was almost picked up and sent to the Columbia's World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, but some local folks paid for it to stay. She was buried with an unfinished monument for more then 60 years and by 1890 it was almost completely destroyed. But  in 1894 President Grover Cleveland unveiled the monument above, probably the first monument in the US to a woman.  The University of Mary Washington is located in Fredericksburg.

Example of an old road.  The "Rocky Road" led to Washington's Ferry in 1862 during the battle of Fredericksburg.


Sentry Box 

Kenmore Plantation, Home of George Washington's Sister and brother in-law Fielding Lewis.

If you enlarge the Kenmore photo above, you may be able to see the non explosive cannon ball still stuck in the right side.  Two live explosive ordinances were found recently lodged in the floor boards of the attic.  The bomb squad was called and as you can see the building was not blown up.
Monument to Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Virginia Statute in Religious Freedom in Fredericksburg

Entrance to the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery, photo by Jeff Majer

Mark didn't mention it, but there was a broken wall at the cemetery.  Sorry the photo is worse then the others we were moving.
Reminder of an accident. photo by Jeff Majer

The Civil War Battle field ( will need its own post.) photo by Jeff Majer

Mark our tour guide, photo by Jeff Majer

This is only  a few of the things I thought were interesting.  Go do the tour, and never forget to tip your guide.

For more information go to

*Unfortunately it seems like it may have been an abscessed lung instead of the better story of a sport accident, but there is not enough information to make a definite judgment either way, so I can't blame him for choosing he better story.

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