History of Weanack Land

a national historic landmark in virginia

In 1994, 280 acres of land was separated from the historic Shirley estate in Virginia, a National Historic Landmark, to facilitate restoration and enhance agricultural productivity for the Carter family's next generation. This property was named Weanack Land, in honor of a nearby Native American village that existed during the 1620s.

Weanack is on the James River located in Charles City, Virginia. Within Weanack is Port Tobacco consisting of 60 acres of maritime facilities and a sheltered cove channeled off the James River between Richmond and Newport News, Virginia.

The land had been used for sand and gravel mining in the mid-20th century, leaving large clayey depressions that rendered it unsuitable for agriculture. However, these depressions were ideal for creating containment basins for dredged material. Charles Carter, a family member, has been managing and owning Weanack Land since its inception in 1994. Under his leadership, Weanack built a modern dock facility and established a business focused on land reclamation using dredged material.

The primary method of land reclamation involves the disposal of mud dredged from waterways, following strict testing and acceptance criteria. Although restoring farmland for row crops is the main use of this material, it has also been utilized for various other purposes, such as creating wetlands, an 18-acre pecan orchard, a 22-acre events space, and even as structural fill to support the modern dock facility at Weanack.

The silt, sand, and clay that fill channels and waterways often originate from plowed land and construction sites. Plowing arrived in the colonies around the mid-17th century, and marine scientists estimate that the areas just offshore of the historic Shirley estate have accumulated 10 feet of silt in the past 200 years. Much of this sediment is topsoil that can be used again for farming or vegetative growth. In essence, Weanack Land's business recovers topsoil clogging waterways and returns it to the land to improve farm soils, reclaim mined areas, and create vegetated wetlands.

The sediment undergoes testing for regulatory approval and agronomic utility. Approved sediment meeting topsoil standards can produce crop yields as good as or even better than the highly productive native soils in the area. Sediment that does not meet topsoil standards is used as elevational fill in the lower areas of the old mining pits, which are then capped with a thick layer of sediment that meets topsoil standards.

"Shirley is the the oldest family-owned business in North America (1638)" - National Historic Landmarks Program, US National Park Service (source)

Video from 2021 at Weanack

Trusted by Great Partners

Statistics about Weanack Land

years of combined waterfront experience. You can imagine that we've seen it all! 


man hours worked without an OSHA reportable injury. Safety is our top priority!


dedicated and skilled operators. Multiple U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Captains.

Details on our facility

Download our spec sheet

Download our 3 page detailed breakdown of the facilities at Weanack, including images of our equipment and past projects.
sheet pile bulkhead
mooring dolphins

Common Questions

What is Weanack Land?

Weanack Land LLC is the terminal owner and operator of Port Tobacco on the James River in Charles City, Virginia. Founded in 1994, Weanack Land has completed countless projects and grown alongside great partners.

What is Port Tobacco at Weanack?

Port Tobacco is a maritime facility located within Weanack Land on the James River in Virginia, USA. It is in a sheltered cove channeled off the James River between Richmond, Virginia and Newport News, Virginia. The team at Port Tobacco and Weanack has immense experience in managing dredge spoils and offers an economic alternative for projects committed to environmental compliance and safety.

How big are Port Tobacco and Weanack Land?

400' sheet pile bulkhead and 325' of mooring dolphins
4 acres of asphalt, 20 acres of back-land, 280 total acres

What is the channel depth?

dredged to -20 feet MLLW

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