Reedville, Virginia is named for Captain Elijah Reed, a sea captain from Maine who came down to this area in 1874 and found a golden opportunity in a certain Chesapeake Bay fish.
Legend has it that, as early as the 1620s, the Indians taught the Pilgrims the value of burying menhaden in each hill of corn for fertilizer. By 1885, there were many menhaden factories on Cockrell Creek producing fish oil, meal and fertilizer from these small fish. Factory owners and fishing boat captains who made their fortunes from menhaden built homes along what is now Main Street (today, these “Millionaire’s Row” mansions are now on the National Register of Historic Places). Although there is only one menhaden plant operating in Reedville today, it remains the heart of the menhaden fleet, one of the most active fishing ports in America, and a significant charter-fishing center for Chesapeake Bay bluefish and rockfish.
The Reedville Fishermen’s Museum is located on the banks of Cockrell’s Creek on land once owned by Captain Elijah Reed. The museum houses a collection of artifacts and historical material covering the history of menhaden fishing from its inception to the present. Unique models of fishing vessels and tools used for building and maintaining the fleet are on display. Museum exhibits include a history of watermen’s activities from early Native American practices to those used today by oystermen, pound fishermen and crabbers. Part of the museum houses rotating exhibits and educational programs, and from the deck there are views of Cockrell’s Creek from which two modern fleets still set out to fish for menhaden from May through December.
For more information, visit http://www.virginia.org/Cities/Reedville/