Lindsay LeGrand 804-524-6094
Feb. 12, 2008
VDOT TO UNVEIL HISTORICAL MARKER TO COMMEMORATE AFRICAN-AMERICAN BURIAL SITE
116 burials recovered during Route 288 construction
As VDOT prepares for major road construction projects, it completes extensive work to identify any historical resource that may be impacted by construction. Whenever possible, projects are designed to minimize the impact to any historical area. When effects cannot be avoided, VDOT often conducts professional archaeological excavations in advance of highway construction to preserve significant historical information.
“This was a very important project for VDOT because it allowed us to learn more about the lives and contributions of those who helped shape the Commonwealth,” said Commissioner David S. Ekern. In 1998, prior to the construction of Route 288, archaeologists discovered the cemetery site. A full-scale excavation recovered more than 19,000 artifacts. From this, archaeologists concluded that the Terre Haute Farm Cemetery was used for more than a century as a burial ground for both enslaved and free African-Americans. Each of the 116 individuals removed from the site were re-interred at the Powhatan Community Cemetery in October 2007.
Chief of Equal Business and Employee Opportunity, Grindly Johnson adds, “The event also commemorates VDOT’s commitment to preserve the past while building Virginia’s future.” The burial site was removed in order to construct a 3.5-mile section of Route 288, which crosses the northeastern corner of Powhatan County between the Chesterfield County line and the James River. The roadway was designed as a four-lane limited-access highway with interstate-type features. The project cost approximately $500 million and was completed in fall 2004.
The design and selection process for the sign began in 2006. VDOT's cultural resources staff, in consultation with local landowners, churches and interested parties, drafted the text, selected the color scheme and decided on the sign’s location.
For more information about the Route 288 project, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/richmond/route_288.asp.
For more information about VDOT’s cultural resources program, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-cultural-preservation.asp.
Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.