By the first half of the 20th century, Petersburg, Virginia, was a vibrant industrial and commercial city. Even as late as the 1930s, the harbor boasted substantial river freight and passenger traffic. In 1915, the top four Petersburg exports were tobacco, cotton yarn, luggage and peanuts. The Seward Trunk and Bag Company was the largest producer of trunks in the world at the time, and in World War II it supplied foot lockers for thousands of troops.

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