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Civil War Site Belle Isle Historic District

One of the city’s first industrial centers and the site of a Civil War prison camp, Belle Isle is located in the James River. Access is from the north bank by a pedestrian bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge. Belle Isle is in Richmond’s James River Park. Virginia Indians fished in the river, and Captain John Smith came here in 1607. A nail factory, an ironworks, and granite quarries operated here in the 1800s and 1900s. During the Civil War, one of the most notorious prisoner-of-war camps in the South was located here, and a Confederate gun emplacement is visible on the western end of the hill. Hiking trails connect historic sites and markers.