Where the Past Is Present and the Arts Are Alive

Portal, Passage, Power: An American River Town


Permanent Exhibition
Catherine W. Jones McKann Center

The story of the Rappahannock River begins with the Algonquian-speaking peoples who lived in this area prior to European contact. Geared especially toward families with children, this portion of the exhibit has several areas where visitors are encouraged to touch. Displays featuring reproduction plants, animal tracks and a scaled down replica of a traditional Virginia Indian home  encourage hands-on learning. Themes such as cooking, the making of tools and the use of the river and the land help visitors understand more about the first inhabitants of this area. The story continues with the river’s relationship to Fredericksburg from the Colonial period to the present day. Interpretation in this portion of the exhibit is multi-media faceted and includes audio, video and other interactive components. Included are several custom-made maps of river-based industries and other historic sites, as well as original objects that illustrate the history of Fredericksburg when it was a bustling port town. Visitors will gain a greater understanding of the river as Fredericksburg’s lifeline to the world and its ever-evolving use as a method of transportation, water power and entertainment.