The History

Tredegar Iron WorksFrancis B. Deane founded Tredegar Ironworks in 1836 and named it for a Welsh town and ironworks. Deane hired 28-year-old Joseph Reid Anderson in 1841 as commercial sales agent. By 1847, Anderson owned the company, obtaining U.S. government contracts for cannon. Tredegar also manufactured locomotives, train wheels, spikes, cables, ships, boilers, naval hardware, iron machinery, and brass items. Anderson employed skilled Northern and foreign workers as well as slaves and some free blacks.

During the Civil War, Tredegar manufactured armor plates for the ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly U.S.S. Merrimack), but specialized in cannon. In 1861, Anderson employed 750 men; by 1863, more than 2,500 worked for him. After the War, Anderson managed the company until his death in 1892. Tredegar later cast munitions for the U.S. Army and Navy during the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War. After a fire in 1955, the company moved across the James River, where it operated on a smaller scale until the end of the 20th century. Ethyl Corporation bought the ironworks site in 1957 and restored the surviving buildings in the 1970s. In 1994, the site operated as Valentine Riverside, which ceased operations in 1996. The National Park Service moved its visitor center into the Pattern Building in 2000. In 2006 - The American Civil War Center opened to critical and public acclaim for its innovative presentation of the Civil War.