Cruise through Richmond's past with River District canal cruises

Chuck "Cotton" Renfro
Chuck "Cotton" Renfro

By Danielle Wilson - email

RICHMOND,VA (WWBT)- If you're looking for a date night idea or just something different for the family, check out Richmond Canal Cruises for a memorable tour on the James.

Cruise through Richmond's past and present with a unique, interactive boat tour. In your 40-minute journey sit back and relax as your captain entertains you with tales of the waterways.

"All the various history that goes on here, from not only the Civil War but the beginnings of our country started about right here," said Chuck Renfro.

Chuck Renfro, or "Cotton" as he's better known, has been a captain with Richmond canal cruises for 11 years.  While the River District and Canal Walk are popular spots in the area, the history of the two are far beyond the surface.

"I would say about 60 to 70 percent of the people who take the tour are from Richmond. They don't realize this is a real working, historical canal that was George Washington's idea," said Renfro.

History unfolds before your eyes as you cruise the canals.  Admire the beauty of waterways that have been restored to their likeness during the mid 1800's. Even the 38 passenger boat resembles those that frequented the James River during the canal's prime.

This one of a kind view of Virginia's capitol begins at the Turning Basin at Virginia Street.  On the tour you get an exclusive behind the scenes look at historical brick warehouses, the inner construction of the canal, iron railroad trestles and modern expressways.

A tour highlight is the "Triple Crossing," the only place in the world where three levels of railroad tracks cross over one another.

"We cover a lot we try to do it as simple as possible so everybody can understand without just giving a bunch of dates and pointing out buildings," said Renfro.

Venture Richmond produces the tours. They've had an average of 150 passengers daily for their hourly cruises. The popularity can be greatly attributed to not only its unique nature but the fact that it's cheap. For only $5 for adults and $4 for children it's a ride you don't want to miss.

The canal cruises will run through November. If you're interested in taking one or possibly even chartering a private cruise visit

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