Skip to main content

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Shot Tower State Historical Park


If you are driving along Interstate 77 near the New River, you may have noticed a single stone tower atop the hillside to your east.  While modern Interstate traffic flies by, this over 200-year-old, 75-foot-tall stone tower was used in the early 19th century to provide ammunition for local settlers.


The limestone tower, known as the Jackson's Ferry Shot Tower, is the centerpiece of Virginia's Shot Tower State Historical Park.  Built in 1807, the shot tower is a combination of a 75-foot tower and a 75-foot vertical shaft into the cliffs overlooking the Neuse River.  Lead shot was manufactured here for 32 years, from 1807 to 1839.

The location of where a kettle full of cool water would catch the falling hot spheres of lead shot.

To make the shot, lead from nearby mines was melted in a kettle at the top of the tower.  Then, it would be poured through a sieve, dropping 150 feet into a kettle full of cold water.  This process, and the size of the sieve, would create the spherical shape of the shot.  The shot would then be sold to local merchants.

The tower was restored and opened to the public in 1968.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.  The American Society of Mechanical Engineers designated the shot tower a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1981. 

Interstate 77 rolls through the Virginia countryside new Shot Tower State Historical Park. The park is easily accessible from the Interstate via Exit 24.

Shot Tower Historical State Park is a small (10 acres) park.  However, it provides access to the New River Trail State Park and offers great views of the rolling countryside and the New River.  The park is open from dawn to dusk - and sometimes the tower is open to explore the inside.  Although there is no charge to visit the park, a requested parking fee of $7 can be made via Venmo or in cash through a collection box.

Sources & Links:

How To Get There:

Site Navigation:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sunshine Bridge (Donaldsonville, LA)

Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans in southern Louisiana, the Sunshine Bridge spans the lower Mississippi River near the city of Donaldsonville as part of the longer Louisiana Highway 70 corridor, which connects Interstate 10 and Airline Highway (US 61) with US 90 in Morgan City. In the years following World War II, the only bridges across the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana were located in the area of the state’s two largest cities – Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Postwar agricultural and industrial development along the river in this region led to the planning of a series of infrastructure projects in southern Louisiana that were aimed at spurring this development and modernization of the Delta region. One of these projects was known as the Acadian Thruway and was developed in the 1950s as a toll road intended to connect greater New Orleans with Lafayette and points west while providing a high-speed bypass of the Baton Rouge metro area. The Thruway, which

Horace Wilkinson Bridge (Baton Rouge, LA)

Standing tall across from downtown Baton Rouge, the Horace Wilkinson Bridge carries Interstate 10 across the lower Mississippi River between West Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parishes. Unusually, the bridge is actually named for three separate people; three generations of Horace Wilkinsons who served in the Louisiana State Legislature over a combined period of 54 years. Constructed in the 1960s and opened to traffic in 1968, this is one of the largest steel bridges on the lower Mississippi. It’s also the tallest bridge across the Mississippi, with its roadway reaching 175 ft at the center span. Baton Rouge is the northernmost city on the river where deep-water, ocean-going vessels can operate. As a result, this bridge is the northernmost bridge on the river of truly gigantic proportions. Altogether, the bridge is nearly 2 ½ miles long and its massive truss superstructure is 4,550 ft long with a center main truss span of 1,235 ft. The Horace Wilkinson Bridge is one of the largest

Natchez-Vidalia Bridge (Natchez, MS)

  Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and Vicksburg near the city of Natchez, the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge crosses the lower Mississippi River between southwest Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana at the city of Vidalia. This river crossing is a dual span, which creates an interesting visual effect that is atypical on the Mississippi River in general. Construction on the original bridge took place in the late 1930s in conjunction with a much larger parallel effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the area’s flood protection and levee system along the Mississippi River. One of the more ambitious aspects of this plan was to relocate the city of Vidalia to a location of higher ground about one mile downriver from the original settlement. The redirection of the river through the Natchez Gorge (which necessitated the relocation of the town) and the reconstruction of the river’s levee system in the area were undertaken in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1927, wh