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Discovering Richmond: Trolley Tour and Pasta Making

Living in the 'burbs, I realized how little my kids have been exposed to the downtown Richmond. So I signed us up to take a trolley tour of our great city to give the kids a taste of the rich history of Richmond.

Our trolley guide from Richmond Trolley was awesome and had all sorts of fun facts and stories to share about Richmond. As it was a driving tour and not a walking tour, Grandma Dot was able to join us too for the fun.

From the Trolley Tour, we headed to The Hill Cafe for lunch and then into the Fan to meet the wonderful folks at Bombolini Pasta. They gave us a short but engaging tutorial about how they make pasta, how the machines work, etc. We fell in love with the Pierogi Ravioli and took home fresh pasta and sauce for dinner. "Mangia! Mangia!"

1606 W Main St Richmond, Va 23220

A few things we learned:

  • Richmond was the site of the very first trolley system in the world, dating back to 1888.

  • Lumpkin's Jail was owned by Robert Lumpkin, whose compound included lodging for slave traders, a slave holding facility, an auction house and a residence for his family. Enslaved Africans held for auction at Lumpkin's Jail referred to it as "the Devil's Half Acre. Sadly, tens of thousands of enslaved Africans were held in the cramped brick building while they waited to be sold. In 1857, Mary Lumpkin, a black woman who was his widow, rented the complex to a Christian school, a predecessor institution of Virginia Union University.

  • In 2009, after five months of digging, researchers uncovered the foundation of the two-and-a-half-story brick Lumpkins Jail building where hundreds of people were confined and tortured. Buried under nearly 14 feet of earth, the city's most notorious slave jail was down a hill some eight feet below the rest of Lumpkin's complex. As it was unearthed, it was a somber moment for the crowd that gathered to look apon the remains of the largest slave market in the South, outside of New Orleans.

  • Chimborazo Park was site of the largest war time hospital in history. The hospital soon became a model for other facilities in the U.S.

  • Richmond is only second to New Orleans in the amount of ironworks and fencing.

  • The battle of Gaines' Mill outside of Richmond, Virginia, was the first Civil War battle where both sides got help from above--in the form of observation balloons.

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