Richmond is the state capital of Virginia and one of its most historic communities. In the mid-19th Century, the city was the South’s most industrialized urban area, hosting the region’s largest flour mills and iron works. During the Civil War, the Confederacy moved its capital from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond because its industries were the largest in the region and could produce arms and equipment for the Southern armies.
At the time of Reconstruction and afterwards, the city operated one of the country’s economic and industrial powerhouses; the first cigarette rolling machine in the world was set up in Richmond, as was the first successful electrically-powered trolley system. But even though Richmond’s rebirth has many benefits, it was tainted by American industry’s over-dependence on asbestos and its negative effects on people’s health.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for substantial. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting victims of asbestos diseases and their loved ones. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in Richmond, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.
Richmond and Asbestos
The 19th Century saw Richmond grow from a political and academic city to a thriving hub of industry and commerce. Its location on the fall line of the James River was crucial to the city’s growth, spurring the creation of the James River and Kanawha Canal in the late 1790s and, later, the harnessing of hydropower to aid the operation of flour mills and iron works. These facilities were the catalyst of Richmond’s industrial boom, which was also fueled by the manufacture of cannon for the U.S. government. The tobacco industry also built warehouses and, in later years, cigar and cigarette factories.
The presence of heavy industry in Richmond led the mostly agrarian Confederate States of America to move its permanent capital from Montgomery, Alabama to the city. Its foundries and arsenals now made weapons and other equipment for the Southern armies, and the Tredegar Iron Works provided the armor plate that covered the world’s first ironclad, the CSS Virginia.
Richmond was set ablaze by retreating Confederate forces in the spring of 1865, but it became the region’s economic keystone once again in the years between Reconstruction and the turn of the 20th Century. Hundreds of new business and residential buildings were constructed to replace those destroyed by the Civil War.
In 1881, the city’s tobacco industry was energized by the invention of the cigarette-rolling machine. Two years later the nation’s first successful electric trolley car system was inaugurated. Richmond’s prominence in industry and business was a key factor in the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to set up its 5th District’s headquarters there in 1914.
Though the 20th Century brought boom-and-bust economic cycles to the South, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies helped Richmond recover from the effects of the Great Depression by establishing cigarette factories. Even in the middle of the economic slump, the city’s real estate value rose by 25% in 1935 and 1936. Richmond’s heavy industries also benefitted from increased demand for weapons and other equipment during World War II.
After the war, Richmond’s economy continued to expand. Cigarette production reached a local peak of 110 billion a year in 1952. Energy production enterprises found new uses for natural gas, and 700 new buildings were constructed in downtown Richmond between 1963 and 1965.
While Richmond’s history reflects a tradition of innovation and industry, its growth did not come without negative effects. The Industrial Revolution and the modernization of the U.S. saw extensive use of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) which were touted as safe and even necessary for various purposes but proved to be lethally dangerous.
The term asbestos refers to a set of six fibrous minerals which have certain beneficial properties that, unfortunately, are canceled out by their negative effects on human health. These minerals have been used for many centuries as insulation, fire retardants, soundproofing, and even to add tensile strength to cement, steel, and other building materials. They are also flexible enough to be woven into fabric, rendering certain garments to be fireproof.
The size and composition of asbestos fibers makes them easy for humans to inhale or swallow them if they’re introduced into the environment. Once these fibers are inside the protective lining that covers the respiratory system or the abdominal organs, they build up and, over time, trigger deadly forms of lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, and asbestosis. These diseases develop slowly and are usually not detected until they’re so advanced that doctors can only alleviate the symptoms before the patient dies.
Much of Richmond’s successful history as a Southern industrial powerhouse coincided with America’s dependence on asbestos and ACMs.The asbestos industry sold its product claiming that it was safe and essential to protect property and people from fire, high temperatures, high-voltage electrical discharges, and other dangers.
Richmond Job Sites Known to Have Asbestos Exposure Issues
Because asbestos and ACMs were used in Richmond for over 100 years in manufacturing, energy production, and construction, there are many job sites in the area where workers were exposed. Some of these job sites include:
- Albemarle Paper Company
- American Cigar Company
- British American Tobacco
- Federal Reserve Bank
- Tredegar Iron Works
- Caraustar-Richmond Paperboard Corporation
- Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company
- Harris Electric Company
- Richmond Greyhound Bus Terminal
- Richmond International Airport
- Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad
- U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company (formerly U.S. Tobacco Company)
National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers in Virginia
- Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, 401 College Street, Richmond, VA 23298, (804) 828-0450
- UVA Cancer Center, University of Virginia, 6171 West Complex, Charlottesville, VA 22908, (434) 924-5022
Getting Legal Help
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, there is a good chance you may qualify for significant compensation. Remember to fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on top asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. If you have questions or need assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.