RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Belle Island’s hydroelectric plant was built in 1904 to provide power for Richmond’s trolley car system, the first in the nation.
The power plant closed in 1967, and since then it’s been a party spot, an eerie curiosity, a daredevil place to explore, climb and jump from into the mighty James.
CBS-6 reporter Mark Holmberg and photographer Phil Karstetter visited the spot Friday and found a wide range of people enjoying the spot, from Martin Luther King middle schoolers practicing their free-running flips and jumps to new visitors who made the leap into the water after much trepidation. [BONUS: Click here to see more of Mark Holmberg’s reports]
Some evenings and nights, the old plant is filled with music and partiers. One of the nationally famous photos of Taylor Behl – the VCU student who went missing in 2005 – was shot at the old plant.
The city has tried to keep people from climbing on the upper levels, where a few have dared to jump about 50 feet into the water. Even the low-level jump – not quite 20 feet – is intimidating for many.
You can watch the jumps in the above video player.
Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. weeknights for Mark Holmberg’s exclusive reports.