This is Part 4 of Blog Series: The Seven Hills of Richmond, VA. Find the Intro here. Chimborazo Hill
Alexander von Humboldt attempted to scale Chimborazo, a volcanic mountain in Ecuador. After his unsuccessful attempt, he dubbed the Richmond hill as Chimborazo in 1802, due to its likeness to the Ecuadorian volcano. A local brewery, The James River Steam Brewery, used the hill as a cellar to store beer. At the top of the cellars was a hole that acted as a chimney. A local newspaper reported any fire in the cellar would case "billows of smoke (to come) through making the hill look like a miniature volcano."
Samuel Moore, the Surgeon General of the Confederate States of America for the establishment of a hospital - Chimborazo Hospital. At the time the hospital was being established, besides the barracks, only two buildings were located on the hill; a large house owned by Richard Laughton and a small office building.
Dr. James Brown McCaw. He had received his medical degree from the University of New York in 1844 and was a professor at the Medical College of Virginia (currently VCU Medical Center) when was called upon to work for the confederate hospital. While medical regulation and supplies were limited, the proficient Chimborazo staff was innovative in providing quality of care for their patients. McCaw acquired a canal boat, named Chimborazo, to trade other cities, like Lexington, for provisions needed for the hospital. Unfortunately, not all patients survived treatment, and those who perished were received by Oakwood Cemetery. By 1865, Oakwood had received over 16,000 patients who perished. In April 1865, Union officers overtook Petersburg, forcing Confederates to retreat and General Robert E. Lee ordered the evacuation of Richmond, including those at Chimborazo Hospital. Those that were not able to leave before Union officers arrived the next day, were transferred to other quarters for care while Union officers were to be treated primarily. By summer, the hospital was closed and transitioned into a Freedman's Bureau school for over 200 freed slaves.
Chimborazo Medical Museum, owned by the National Park System on the original grounds of Chimborazo Hospital.