Traces of human activity on Belle Isle date back hundreds of years, starting with American Indians who found the island in the James River ideal for fishing. Captain John Smith explored it in 1607, and locals called it ‘Broad Rock Island’. Following in his footsteps, the area’s first White settlers carried on the Indians’ activities by building a fishery. Other industry soon followed with an iron and nail factory in 1814 and a granite quarry. Today, these buildings are all abandoned husks.