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Port Walthall

Port Walthall was located on the north bank of the Appomattox River in Chesterfield County, Virginia, a few miles upriver from its confluence with the James River at City Point.

Port Walthall
Former town
Port Walthall Drawing
Views on the Appomattox at Port Walthall
Etymology: William Walthall
Coordinates: 37°18′N 77°21′W / 37.300°N 77.350°W / 37.300; -77.350
Country United States
State Virginia
County Chesterfield



Port Walthall was part of 1600 acres patented by William Walthall, Merchant, 26 July 1656, land "Lying and being in the county of Henrico, on the north side of Appomatuck River."[1] William Walthall's ancestors were members of the Mercers Company in London who held stock in the Virginia Company and descended from Thomas Walthall bc 1450 Nantwich, Cheshire, and Margaret d/o Sir William Stanley of Hooten.[2]


The Town of Port Walthall was established in 1840.[3]

Clover Hill PitsEdit

Port Walthall was on a Spur of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad from 1846 to the Reconstruction Era. The spur was built to get coal from the Clover Hill Pits to Port Walthall to be shipped north by coastal ships.[4]

Map of the neighbourhood of Port Walthall, Virginia 1866

As part of the competition for commerce between Richmond and Petersburg, Wirt and Moncure Robinson, presidents of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad and one other Railroad, built the branch line from the R&P to Port Walthall. They also financed a Steamship Company owned by the R&P. The company was forbidden to make purchase of other companies, to prevent other steamship companies from fearing a large monopoly and refusing to facilitate connections north or engaging in competition. The railroad presidents merely wanted to compete with Petersburg and did not mind making these concessions. A Newspaper Editor in Petersburg was not happy with this development.[5]

The proposed charter of the steamship company was debated by the Virginia House of Delegates and was granted.[6]

Port Walthall Steamship CompanyEdit

Port Walthall Steamship Company
Industry Steamships
Founded May 22, 1846 in Richmond, Virginia, United States
Founders Moncure Robinson and Wirt Robinson
Headquarters Richmond, Virginia, United States
Areas served
Richmond, Virginia, Petersburg, Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia and Old Point Comfort
Products Water transportation
Owners Nicholas Mills, G.A. Myers, W. H Macfarland, Moncure Robinson, George Tucker, A. Worrall and W.E. Horner[7]

The Port Walthall Steamship Company was formed in 1846 by the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. The company was chartered to book passengers through Old Point Comfort in Norfolk, Virginia but no further. The Richmond and Petersburg Railroad provided repairs for and managed a joint schedule for point to point transportation through to Norfolk. Later the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad also bought into the company.[7] The tracks underwent some maintenance in 1849 and the governor remarked that the train had never had an accident or had ever been late and missed the steamship in three years.[8]

The Augusta Steamship was retrofitted in 1853 with Life Boats, Lifebuoys and Force Pumps as required by the U.S. Congress for safety. Passengers could leave Richmond or Petersburg by train three days a week at 6:00 A.M. and transfer to the Steamship headed for Norfolk. They could return from Norfolk three days a week leaving at 6:00 A.M and ride the train back from Port Walthall to Richmond or Petersburg. The fare was $2 for White adults, $1.50 for Enslaved Africans and $1 for children if they went the whole way to Norfolk or New Point Comfort. Fares were less if they stopped along the river. Meals were fifty cents for white people and 25 cents for slaves.[9] Coal was loaded at Port Walthall and shipped to places like Baltimore and Philadelphia by other shippers.[10]

Civil WarEdit

Lee's Map of the Bermuda Hundred battle of Port Walthall

The Battle of Port Walthall Junction was fought on May 6–7, 1864, between Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The point where the Port Walthall tracks joined the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad was known as Port Walthall Junction. The Confederates were eventually defeated, allowing Union forces to cut the railroad, one of Richmond's vital supply lines.[11][12] Soldiers of the Confederate States of America later melted down the railroad tracks leading to the port to manufacture cannon.[13]


After the Civil War, Thomas M. Logan, who twenty years later modernized railroads of Virginia, became president of the Port Walthall Spur of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad.[4] The railroad branch to Port Walthall was never restored, and Port Walthall came into disuse. An 1891 map of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad shows a carriage road going to the town from the stop on the main line. An 1893 Richmond and Petersburg Railroad company prospectus does not show the spur to Port Walthall in the miles of track section.[14] However, as late as 1872, vessels larger than 200 tonnes could dock at Port Walthall, six miles down the Appomattox River from Petersburg on the north bank.[15]

Small Pox Quarantine 1906Edit

The school in the town of Port Walthall was temporarily closed due to a smallpox outbreak in 1906.[16]


In modern times, the name is memorialized by the Walthall exit of Interstate 95, U.S. Route 58.


  1. ^ Louise Pledge Heath Foley (1 April 2009). Early Virginia Families Along the James River. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-8063-0877-7. 
  2. ^ Malcom Elmore Walthall (1963). The Walthall family: a genealogical history of the descendants of William Walthall of Virginia. C. D. Walthall. p. 7. 
  3. ^ "CHAPTER 8: HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES". Chesterfield Government. Chesterfield County. February 21, 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-26. 
  4. ^ a b Lily Logan Morrill (18 November 2011). A Builder of the New South: Notes on the career of Thomas M. Logan. Author House. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-4678-7032-0. 
  5. ^ Stewart, Peter (1973). "Railroads and Urban Rivalries in Antebellum Eastern Virginia". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 81 (1): 3–22. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  6. ^ Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia. 1846. p. 4. 
  7. ^ a b Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia. 1846. pp. 3–. 
  8. ^ Governor's Message and Annual Reports of the Public Officers of the State, and of the Boards of Directors, Visitors, Superintendents, and Other Agents of Public Institutions Or Interests of Virginia. Samuel Shepherd, public printer. 1849. pp. 302–303. 
  9. ^ Dodamead, Thos (23 September 1853). "For Norfolk, Portsmouth and Old Point Comfort". The Morning Mail. Richmond, Virginia. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  10. ^ "Marine News". The Morning Mail. Richmond, Virginia. 4 July 1853. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
  11. ^ Samuel J. Martin (26 April 2011). General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A. McFarland. pp. 400–2. ISBN 978-0-7864-6194-3. 
  12. ^ Benjamin Franklin Butler (1892). Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benj. F. Butler: Butler's Book. A. M. Thayer. p. 645. 
  13. ^ Port Walthall (Historical Highway Markers). Virginia State Route 10 at Enon, Virginia 2.5 miles west of Hopewell, Virginia: Virginia Department of Conservation and Historic Resources. 1987. 
  14. ^ Virginia. Railroad Commissioner (1893). Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioner of the State of Virginia. R.F. Walker, Superintendent Pub. Print. p. 36. 
  15. ^ The New American Encyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge. D. Appleton. 1872. p. 196. 
  16. ^ "Small Pox Scare due to One Case in Chester. School in Port Walthall was closed for same cause". Times Dispatch. Richmond, Virginia. 7 February 1906. Retrieved 2017-04-17.