Purchased by James City County in 2020, Brickyard Landing is a 119-acre public park with an interesting history and a promising future. Since it was last featured on Trail News, James City County has drafted a master plan for the park laying out new and expanded amenities and resources for visitors. With the completion of the public comment period on June 30th, 2023, the draft master plan will now be submitted for approval to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission, the James City County Planning Commission, and the James City County Board of Supervisors. Considering the exciting news, it is the perfect time to revisit this local access point to the Chickahominy’s water trails.
If you have an interest in local history, or if you read our previous blog on the area, you may be familiar with the boat launch in Toano formerly known as Hog Neck. From the mid-1600s to the 1760s, Hog Neck was a tobacco inspection, storage, and shipping location. For over a century Virginia’s cash crop was shipped from the Hog Neck wharf down the Chickahominy River to the James. Its convenient location for storage and shipping meant that with the decline of the tobacco industry and the growth of local sawmills in the 1800s, this location stayed in use as a hub for shipping cordwood and railroad ties.
The first half of the 20th century saw another change in land use, and in name, for Hog Neck. During this time, the site’s rich clay soil was harvested and used by brick making companies as a source of raw materials – lending the park the name we know it by today. After it ceased operation as a brickyard in the 1950s, the property was purchased by Newport News Shipbuilding. From 1955 to 1997, it served as a company recreation area where employees could enjoy the scenic river views with picnic shelters, fireplaces, and athletic equipment.
Now James City County has begun a new master planning process for Brickyard Landing. This plan will help guide the park’s development over the next ten years and beyond. Recreation amenities originally built by Newport News Shipbuilding such as the picnic shelters and pier have already been restored and expanded. New projects have been proposed to provide more capacity for river access as well as other recreation opportunities. Perhaps most exciting is the 0.25-mile paved walking trail (ADA accessible) and 2-4 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails that are included in the draft plan. A meadow featuring a demonstration riparian buffer planting across from the parking area would provide opportunities for wildlife watching and environmental education for park visitors. That’s not all, as there is great news for boaters as well! A larger parking area for the boat ramp would provide increased space for boat trailers, as well as additional parking to accommodate visitors taking advantage of the trails, playground, and meadow.
Next time you visit Brickyard Landing, look out for the recently restored amenities, and keep an eye out for the additions to come! When you’re planning your next water trail adventure, remember that Brickyard Landing is a public access point for both the Lower Diascund Creek and Big Marsh Point water trails. For more information or to start planning your water trail adventure from Brickyard Landing, view the map on our website.
A full list of finished restorations and proposed additions to the park is as follows:
A. Tending Pier
Existing tending pier along boat ramp, turning 90 degrees and running parallel to shoreline. Pier is used for tying off boats that are using the ramp, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
B. Boat Ramp
Existing concrete boat ramp used for launching trailered boats in the Chickahominy River.
C. Picnic Shelters
Two repaired and existing picnic shelters with picnic tables can accommodate 20-25 users each.
D. Utility Shed
Utility shed to be constructed over a portion of an old bathhouse site. The shed will be used to protect electrical panels and well pump that were located in the back room of the bathhouse.
E. Boat Trailer Parking
Approximately 25-30 parking spaces for boat trailers using the boat ramp.
F. Car Parking Lot
Approximately 25-30 parking spaces for cars, with two ADA Accessible parking spaces
G. Restroom Facility
Restroom facilities to support recreation amenities.
H. Multiuse Trail
0.25 Mile ADA accessible asphalt multiuse trail with connections to park amenities. Opportunities for interpretation of park site history and environmental education
Standard park playground with mulch surfacing, separate playground features for different age groups.
Natural area/meadow with demonstration riparian buffer plantings closer to shoreline to educate visitors on shoreline plantings and to improve stormwater runoff.
K. Hiking/Mountain Biking Trails
Approximately 2-4 miles of hiking and/or mountain biking trails, Opportunities for interpretation of park site history and environmental education.
This information and map may also be viewed on James City County’s website. Further information on Brickyard Landing and its master planning process can be found on the James City County website at this link.
If you are interested in updates on this project, you may send your contact information (email or mailing address) directly to the James City County Parks and Recreation department at [email protected].
The land use history cited in this article was sourced from the James City County website as well as a pamphlet on the history and commerce of the area prepared by the Friends of Forge Road and Toano. The pamphlet can be found here.