The Lock-Keepers House at Cedar Point

16 Nov

The Lock-Keeper’s House, circa 1836, is the last remaining lock-keeper’s house from the James River and Kanawha Canal system.  Located on Cedar Point Road in Goochland, the little building is a reminder of a time when the river was the fastest way to reach Richmond and the world.

lock

Personally surveyed and planned by George Washington, The James River and Kanawha Canal began in 1785 to ease shipments of passengers and goods from the interior of Virginia to the coast.  After a series of financial difficulties, the Commonwealth of Virginia took over and in March of 1832, the James River and Kanawha Canal Company was formed to extend the canal to the Ohio River.  By 1836 a lock was needed to move the traffic around the rocks at Cedar Point so Lock Number 7 was constructed.  The Lock-Keeper’s house was built alongside the lock for toll collection, invoice and cargo checking and as a tavern for the passengers of canal boats.  The house was in use for these purposes until the late 1800’s when the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad laid tracks on the old towpath of the canal.  Railroads led to an end of the canal era but the house stayed in use as a home for the railroad section masters.  The house was finally sold into the private sector in the 1960’s.

house

The Cedar Point Lock-Keeper’s house is a two-story frame structure on a stone foundation.  The foundation is whitewashed 18” granite and the upper stories are covered in weatherboard.  The interior is still arranged, as it would have been in the canal era, three stacked rooms to the right and three to the left.  There are two stairways, one at either end of the house.  One was for the lock-keeper and the other was for guests of the tavern.  The top floor is divided into two rooms for overnight accommodations and do not connect.  The easternmost room was for ladies.  The two top rooms were reached by different staircases which allowed the ladies to come and go without having to go through the tavern.

house2

The building has been damaged by floods and hurricanes on several occasions.  Two lines to the left of the basement entrance commemorate two early floods, one marked “30 Sept. 1870” and the other is for 1877.  Hurricane Camille arrived in 1969 with more flooding but the highest level so far would be caused by Hurricane Agnes.  That event in June of 1972 caused the river to rise 15 feet above flood stage causing water to rise 3 feet above the second level floor.  A bronze plaque commemorates Hurricane Agnes’ flood level on the outside of the house.  In November of 1974, the Lock-Keeper’s House was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

plaque

The Lock-Keeper’s House is currently listed for sale with Goochland Realty, Inc. realtor Vernell Burton.  The house has been converted to a home and offers a cozy atmosphere and incredible views of the James River.  The Historical Society is hoping that a buyer will keep the home intact for future generations.  If you are interested in purchasing the house, call 804-784-5288.

James River

James River

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

To read more about The Lock-Keeper’s House: read volume 7, No. 1 of the Goochland County Historical Society’s magazine.

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