Inside what was once the Tredegar Iron Works, this is the best place to get maps and other materials on the Civil War battlefields and attractions in the Richmond area. A self-guided tour and optional tape tour for purchase covers the two major military threats to Richmond—the Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and the Overland Campaign of 1864—as well as the impact on Richmond's home front. Three floors of exhibits in the main building include unique artifacts on loan from other Civil War history institutions. Other original buildings on-site are a carpentry shop, gun foundry, office, and company store.
Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger program. They're given a workbook, which leads them through the exhibits in search of "clues." Once they've completed their book, they receive their choice of an embroidered Ranger patch or a Ranger pin.
Built in 1837, the ironworks, along with smaller area iron foundries, made Richmond the center of iron manufacturing in the South. When
the Civil War began in 1861, the ironworks geared up to make the artillery, ammunition, and other material that sustained the Confederate war machine. Its rolling mills provided the armor plating for warships, including the ironclad CSS Virginia. The works—saved from burning in 1865—went on to play an important role in rebuilding the devastated South; it also produced munitions in both world wars. The center has a pay parking lot ($3), but free parking is available next door at the Belle Isle lot. Also, be aware that the American Civil War Center is also on this site, but is a private museum that charges admission.