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Falling Creek


Falling Creek Ironworks Park is the site of the first ironworks in English North America.

In 1619, Capt. Bluett, with 20 men, had selected the site at Falling Creek as having all the necessary resources for iron production close at hand. When he, as well as many other workers, died from the harsh conditions, three additional ironwork masters were sent to Virginia.

In 1621, John Berkley, his son Maurice and 20 ironworkers arrived at Falling Creek. Berkley was presumably a master of the ironworks, while eight of the men were sent to work the furnace, and 12 were sent to work the forge. Although Berkley wrote to the Virginia Company that he would produce iron for them by the spring of the next year, the Powhatan Indians included the ironworks in their colony-wide attack and massacre on March 22, 1622. Two women and three children were among the 27 killed at Falling Creek.

In 1623, Maurice Berkley returned to rebuild the ironworks, but was unsuccessful. Other sources of income-producing commerce were enticing the settlers, such as raising tobacco. The ironworks was abandoned, and the Virginia Company lost its charter in 1624. Although several attempts to restore the ironworks occurred, none were successful, and the land reverted to the Crown.

In 1760, Archibald Cary built a forge on the north side of Falling Creek, having inherited the land from his father. The Cary forge, which acted as a refinery, converted pig iron into bar iron. The forge proved to be unprofitable, so Cary turned his attention to a grist mill, which was destroyed during the American Revolution. The mill was rebuilt in the 1850s by John Watkins and was active until about 1906. The stone foundations on the north side of the creek are the remains of that mill.

For more information about the Falling Creek Ironworks Park, or the Falling Creek Ironworks Foundation, contact Chesterfield County's Parks and Recreation Department at (804) 748-1623 or visit www.fallingcreekironworks.org.

6407 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Richmond, VA 23234

This site is sponsored by Chesterfield Heritage Alliance.
For more information, call the Chesterfield County Department of Parks and Recreation at (804) 748-1623

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