Powhite Creek

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Powhite Creek is an 8.0-mile-long (12.9 km)[1] stream rising near the unincorporated community of Bon Air in Chesterfield County and flowing into the independent city of Richmond in central Virginia. The creek empties into the James River in the region of the Fall Line, where the rapids of the James are located upstream from the head of navigation.

Boy fishing in Powhite Creek, 1969, Bon Air, Virginia

The name is usually pronounced "PO-White" by area natives [2] although it is alternatively pronounced "Pow-Hite." References to Powhite Creek are included in the Vestry Book of Henrico Parish, Virginia, 1730-1773, and in Chesterfield County records of the latter time period. It is mentioned in land records as early as 1687, according to research on the Bratcher family (Margaret Bradshaw). The creek was named for the French Calvinist-Protestant denomination of Huguenots that settled in the area after their expulsion from France by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685, as they were commonly referred to as "poor white" or "po' white."[3]

The nearby Powhite Parkway of the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) was named for the creek. The toll road (Virginia State Route 76) crosses over the creek and under the Norfolk Southern Railway near the former unincorporated town of Granite. About a mile north, the toll road crosses the river on a bridge just downstream from the mouth of the creek.

There is also a Powhite Creek in Hanover County, Virginia. It was the site of the Battle of Gaines' Mill during the American Civil War.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  2. ^ Korey Hughes, "Properly Pronouncing Powhite", Richmond Times-Dispatch Read Aug 28, 2016.
  3. ^ Edict of Nantes