RVA50 Object 7 “General George Washington (1731/2-1799)”

General George Washington (1731/2-1799)

Oil on canvas, 1850’s
William James Hubard (1807-1862)

In 1791, the canal company in Richmond, Virginia, elected General George Washington as its honorary president.  Originally known as the James River Canal, the James River and Kanawha Canal is credited with being the first operating canal system with locks in the new United States of America. Opened in 1789, the canal system was created to move goods and passengers by water between the western counties of the Commonwealth and the ports on the east coast.

The canal project was expensive and suffered several set-backs.  The introduction of the railroad in the 1830’s permanently halted the extension and completion of the canal.  In the end, the canal’s right-of-way was purchased by the railways, which laid tracks on the former tow path of the canal.

Today, much of the engineered canal system can still be traced and forms an important part of Richmond’s modern city landscape.

Gift of Mann S. Valentine II, 1892