Tredegar Iron Works

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Tredegar Iron Works

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Image:Tredegar Iron Works.gif
Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia, USA, photograph by Alexander Gardener

Tredegar Iron Works is a historic iron foundry in Richmond, Virginia, United States of America.


"Founding" and Management under Davies (1833 - 1838)

The foundry was named in honor of the town of Tredegar, South Wales, United Kingdom, where iron works of the same name were constructed in the early 1800s, and which was also the hometown of Rhys Davies, the man originally in charge of constructing the facility. In 1833, a group of Richmond businessmen and industrialists hired Davies, then a young engineer, along with a number of fellow iron workers from the Welsh valley town, to construct the furnaces and rolling mills which later became the Tredegar Iron Works and Belle Isle Iron Works. Davies died in Richmond in September, 1838, as a result of stab wounds received in a fight with a workman, and was buried on Belle Isle in the James River.


Management under Joseph Reid Anderson (1841 - Civil War)

In 1841, the owners turned management over to a 28 year old civil engineer named Joseph Reid Anderson, who proved to be an able manager. Anderson acquired ownership of it in 1848, and was soon doing work for the United States government. The commissioning of nine hundred miles of railroad track in Virginia largely financed by the Virginia Board of Public Works between 1846 to 1853 offered a market in steam locomotives and rail stock. By 1860, Anderson's father-in-law Dr. Robert Archer had joined the business and Tredegar was a leading iron producer in the country. The company that produced about 70 steam locomotives between 1850 and 1860. From 1852-1854, John Souther also managed the locomotive shop at Tredegar. Its locomotive production work is sometimes listed with combinations of the names Anderson, Souther, Delaney, and Pickering.

Joseph R. Anderson was a strong supporter of southern secession, and became a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army as the American Civil War broke out. He was wounded at Glendale during the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign in 1862, and served in the Ordnance Department for the duration of the Civil War.

Tredegar Iron Works supplied high-quality munitions to the South during the war. The company also manufactured railroad steam locomotives in the same period. Tredegar Iron Works made the iron plating for the first Confederate ironclad warship, the CSS Virginia which fought in the historic Battle of Hampton Roads in March, 1862.


Tredegar Survives the Evacuation of Richmond

During the evacuation of Richmond by the Confederates on the night of April 2-3, 1865, the retreating troops were under orders to burn many of the munitions dumps and industrial warehouses that would have been valuable to the North. Joseph Anderson, the owner of the Tredegar Iron Works, reportedly paid over fifty armed guards to protect the facility from arsonists. As a result, the Tredegar Iron Works is one of few civil-war era buildings that survived the burning of Richmond.

At the outset of hostilities, Anderson had wisely secured Tredegar assets overseas for the duration of the Civil War, and therefore was able to restore his business when the Confederate currency collapsed. He petitioned U.S. President Andrew Johnson for a pardon for himself and Tredegar, and was back in business before the end of 1865, regaining full ownership in 1867.


Reconstruction Era

By 1873, Tredegar Iron Works was employing 1,200 workers and was a profitable business. The neighborhood of Oregon Hill cropped up as a company town-like development.

When Joseph Anderson died on a vacation in New Hampshire in 1892, he was succeeded by his son Colonel Archer Anderson. The Tredegar company remained in business throughout the first half of the 20th century, and supplied requirements of the armed forces of the United States during World War I and World War II. It was destroyed by fire in 1952.


Post-Induistrial Uses


History Museum

In the 1990's, the Tredegar Iron works was host to the short lived "Valentine on the James" extension of the Valentine Richmond History Center. It failed financially and became empty again.


Linclon Statue

In 2000, the former Tredegar Iron Works facility overlooking the James River near downtown Richmond became the site of the main Visitor's Center of the National Parks Service Richmond National Battlefield Park. In April 2003, a statue was dedicated there to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's historic 1865 tour of the burned out city ten days before his assassination. Dignitaries at the installation ceremony included Douglas Wilder, Former Mayor a and Lt Governer Tim Kaine, Mayor Rudy McCollum, and former governer Gerald L. Baliles. Protesting the event were Sons of Confederate Veterans including Mr. Brag Bowling Virginia SCV Commander, Mr. Fred Tayor President of the Heritage Preservation Association and Mr. Elloitt Germain Chairman Virginia League of the South


External Links

  • National Parks Service, Richmond National Battlefield Park
  • National Parks Service, Introduction to Tredegar Iron Works
  • Richmond Enquirer newspaper article (28 September 1861) about the foundary
  • detailed history of the foundary by B. Gardner
  • Confederate Railroads website


  • Message in a Bottle -
  • Fed plans parking deck - Richmond Times Dispatch
  • Running Raven Mad -

Image:Wikipedia-small.png Wikipedia article about Tredegar Iron Works (search). This article uses material from that article.

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