I went on an afternoon wander around Richmond VA to check out Forest Hill Park–my first visit to an amazing place!–and get some evening drone views of the Richmond skyline, illuminated for the holiday season. Come along!
I was extremely impressed by Forest Hill Park, and frankly a little disappointed I hadn’t checked it out before now! It’s a stunningly beautiful place, not far from the heart of the city but often feeling leagues away. And full of history, which I adore!
The property’s first owner of record was William Byrd III, son of the man who founded the city of Richmond in colonial times. By 1768 Mr. Byrd had racked up massive gambling debts, and sold almost 2,000 acres of land to make the money–this parcel was a part of that sale. After changing hands a couple times, the Stone House above was built, from granite quarried on-site, as a home by prominent jurist Holden Rhodes between 1836 and 1843–he named it Boscobel, “beautiful woods.”
After Rhodes’ death in 1857, the property again passed through several hands, and in 1890 became property of the Richmond & Manchester Railway Company, which placed one terminus of their electric trolley line nearby. To encourage visitation and ridership, they constructed an amusement park near the Stone House, which featured a roller coaster, funhouse, carousel, penny arcade, dance hall, roller skating, and swimming and boating areas. The amusement park was popular until the early 1930s, when the Great Depression struck.
The city of Richmond took over ownership of the park property in 1934, removed the amusement park, and renovated Boscobel as a meeting house, library, and home for the park’s keeper. Meanwhile, the Works Progress Administration was brought in to beautify the park with cobblestone pathways and stone walls.
The lake at the park’s center, once part of the quarry, later the amusement park’s swimming and boating feature, is now restored to a much more natural state. The stone gazebo and a small warming hut for ice skaters were added by the WPA in the 1930s.
Deeper into the park I found myself in an amazing ravine, through which Reedy Creek runs. This is the sort of place I absolutely love–running water with small cascades over rocks, with huge slabs of stone and large boulders to climb around on. I’m still an overgrown kid sometimes, okay?
From Forest Hill I headed over to the Manchester Bridge and Floodwall, where I found a good spot to send up my drone and get some aerial views and video of the Richmond skyline, nicely illuminated for the holiday season.