Blacksburg is an incorporated town located in Montgomery
County, Virginia, United
States, with a population of 39,284 at the 2000 census, with an estimated
increase to 41,796 in 2008. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford are the
three principal jurisdictions of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford
Area which encompasses those jurisdictions and all of
Montgomery, Pulaski, and Giles counties for statistical
The MSA has an estimated population of 158,328 and
is currently one of the faster growing MSAs in Virginia.
is dominated economically and demographically by the presence of
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University (better known as Virginia Tech), a
Blacksburg is the
largest town in Virginia by population. There are many larger
municipalities, but they are incorporated as cities
European discovery and the founding of a settlement
When European explorers
led by Abraham Wood
reached the present-day location
of Blacksburg, Virginia in 1671, there were no longer any Native Americans
lived in the area . They followed Stroubles Creek, through the
current locations of the town and campus of Virginia Tech to what they named Wood's River.
September 17, 1671, the Wood party claimed all the lands comprising
the drainage basin
of the river,
later renamed the New
, for King Charles
During the 1740s, the Wood's River Land Company, which was
represented by Col. James Patton, attained a large tract of land
within present-day southwest
. Part of the tract became Montgomery
County and Pulaski County and was sold to settlers entering the
The Draper and Ingles families were among those that
built their homes somewhere between present locations of the campus
and the subdivision of Hethwood. The settlement came to be called
Draper's Meadow by 1748.
Seven years later, the settlement was involved in the brutality of
the French and Indian War
Sometime around July 30, 1755, the event now known as the Draper's Meadow massacre
and there is a bridge located near Duck Pond that is dedicated to
the massacre. By the end of the war, Draper's Meadow was
The Black family (1772-1797)
Black, whose family settled in Staunton, Virginia, bought of land in the Draper‚Äôs Meadow area for his
sons John and William in 1772. Smithfield Plantation, built in
approximately 1774 by Col. William Preston, sits on the
original Draper's Meadow site, which is near the Duck Pond on the
When Samuel Black died in 1792, the land was evenly divided into
two sections by his sons. The road now known as Draper Road is the
dividing line between the sections. John Black's property covered
the majority of today's central campus and William Black's property
became most of central downtown area of present-day
In 1797, William laid out a small grid of streets and lots‚ÄĒ16
blocks in all‚ÄĒon a portion of his land. The original town was
limited to the area bounded by present-day Draper Road, Jackson
Street, Wharton Street, and Clay Street. The city logo contains 16
small squares that create a larger square, representing the
original 16 square blocks that were a part of Black's design.
Blacksburg's establishment (1798-1870)
After Black petitioned the state legislature to establish a town at
the site, the official establishment and founding of Blacksburg,
Virginia was January 13, 1798 on the thirty-eight and three-quarter
acre tract that he laid out. The following August 4, he signed over
the deed to the town trustees
. The town was
named after him in his honor.
In 1801, a log cabin was built, which went on to be the home of the
future colonel of the 28th Virginia Infantry, Robert Preston and
two Virginia governors. The cabin, now known as "Solitude," is the
oldest building on the Virginia Tech campus.
to records of the Post Office Department of the National Archives and Records
Administration, the post office was established as "BLACKSBURGH"
on April 8, 1827.
The name was changed to the current
spelling (without the "h") in 1893.
Even though the Methodists
had built two
cabins to worship in since the town's founding, they did not build
a more permanent structure until 1830, when a brick church was
constructed. The Presbyterians
next Christian denomination to build a church within Blacksburg's
limits. In 1848 they built their first brick building at 117 South
Main Street. Though still standing, this building has not been used
as a church for many years. It was once South Main Caf√©, but is
currently Cabo Fish Taco. It is also the oldest building on Main
Street. The Baptists
founded the third
oldest church in the town in 1852.
In 1832, Westview Cemetery was established from a few acres of land
that were deeded to trustees.
One of the first educational establishments started here was the
Blacksburg Female Academy in 1840. The Olin and Preston Institute
(re-charted as Preston and
in 1869) was a Methodist-sponsored academy
established in 1851.
The first bank in Montgomery County, Blacksburg Savings
Institution, was established in 1849.
The first newspaper published in Blacksburg was the Montgomery
. Its first issue was released in 1869.
Incorporation and modernization (1871-1951)
In 1871, the village that became known as Blacksburg was incorporated
and Thomas W. Jones
became the first mayor.
One year later, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College
opened its doors on October 2, 1872 with a faculty of three
members. The college grew and became known as Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University, which shortly afterward became
informally referred to as Virginia Tech.
unit was organized
within the university in 1899. The town bought its first fire truck
43 years later. The Blacksburg First Aid and Life Saving Crew was
founded in 1951 as another addition to the growing amount of
The first automobile came through the town in 1901. Three years
later the train entered Blacksburg from Christiansburg using the
Anthracite & Coal Railroad
, which later became known as the
"Huckleberry." Traffic in Blacksburg increased sufficiently enough
that by January 1913 the town voted against allowing cows to
continue to roam in town. The first filling
station was opened in 1919 and at the time was the only one
Virginia and Bluefield, West Virginia.
The town's first landing strip was built in
1929 and was 1,800 feet (548.64 m) in length. The grass landing
strip was given airport status in 1931 and later became Virginia
Tech Airport. Local buses began to make their rounds for the first
time in 1947.
The town's first theater was built in 1909. It was a precursor to
the Lyric Theater on College Avenue.
In the spring of 1935, Main Street was strung with ten street
lights from Roanoke Street northward to the top of the hill, where
it now intersects the Alumni Mall. By October the town's second
stoplight was installed on Main Street at Roanoke Street and was
synchronized with the original one at Main and College.
The establishment of official law enforcement began in 1937 when
Officer Dave "Highpockets" Sumner became the first Blacksburg
police officer. The first police car was purchased nine years
Compulsory education and commercialization (1952-1992)
Blacksburg experienced a boost of compulsory education
during the second
half of the 20th century. Even though there had been a place for
secondary education somewhere in
town since 1906, it was not until 1952 when the first official
location for Blacksburg High School was built on South Main and Eheart Streets.
That same year, all high schools in Montgomery County began
operating on a twelve-grade basis which is still county policy to
this day. Two years later, Blacksburg High School was relocated to
a building on South Main Street which eventually became the site of
Blacksburg Middle School. The Margaret J. Beeks Elementary School
and the Gilbert F. Linkous Elementary School were both completed in
1963 and Harding Avenue Elementary School was built in 1972. Two
years later, Blacksburg High School's current spot in town on
Patrick Henry Drive was opened in 1974 after 20 years of issues
with overcrowding in its previous location.
Jack Goodwin was appointed the first chief of police by the
Blacksburg Town Council in 1954. Jan Olinger was made the first
female police officer in 1976.
1958 marked the beginning of the end for the railroad that came to
be known as the "Huckleberry." Passenger service came to an end on
July 25. On June 30, 1966 the last freight train arrived at the
Blacksburg depot. Within 24 hours, the depot was closed, the empty
cars were picked up, and the tracks were immediately removed.
190 years after its original construction, the newly renovated
Smithfield Plantation house was re-opened in 1964.
The amount of commercialization
the area began to increase in the mid-1960s. An important opening
that occurred was the Corning Glass Works (now called Corning Incorporated
) facility in 1964
which is located south of Blacksburg. The Blacksburg Municipal
Building on South Main Street was constructed in 1969. Terrace View
apartments, the first large student complex, was built in 1970. The
Blacksburg Branch of the Montgomery County Library was opened the
same year. Ten years later, it was moved into the facility that
used to house the Blacksburg Lumber Company on Draper Road. In
1971, Blacksburg ratified a new charter and Montgomery Regional Hospital
was built. The University Mall shopping center opened that year as
well. During 1981, the Blacksburg Community Center opened. It cost
the town $1.2 million to build. By 1988, the New River Valley Mall
was opened and the Virginia Tech Corporate
had its first ground-breaking ceremony.
After construction of Virginia's portion of Interstate 81
began in 1957, it took about
nine years until the segment that ran alongside the town was opened
in November 1965. About half that amount of time passed before the
bypass opened in 1969.
In the 1970s, Virginia Tech was annexed into the town and other
land area was also brought in. The population grew from 9,000
people to 30,000 during this decade.
Replacing the old public bus system, Blacksburg Transit
began running in
Information Age (1993-2005)
Blacksburg is the site of the Blacksburg Electronic Village
or BEV, conceived as a computer networking project of Virginia Tech in 1991 and officially born in 1993 as a way to
link the town together using the Internet.
This project quickly ushered the
town into what is being called the Information Age
In 1994, Kipps Elementary School was opened. By this time,
Blacksburg had five elementary schools, a middle school, and a high
A new Blacksburg branch library was opened in 1996.
After 24 years of abandonment and six years of planning and
construction, the first phase of the Huckleberry Trail
opened in 1996. The
second phase of construction was completed in 1998.
On July 8, 1997, ground was broken for the experimental "Smart Road
" project. The second phase of
construction was completed in 2002.
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the town has a total area of 19.4 square
miles (50.2 km¬≤) of which 19.4 square miles (50.1 km¬≤) is
land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km¬≤), or 0.10%, is water.
Blacksburg is 2,080 feet (634 m) above sea level. It is the
15th largest municipality
in the commonwealth of
Continental Divide traverses the Virginia Tech/Montgomery Airport.
tallest building in Blacksburg is Slusher Tower, a twelve
story residence hall on the Virginia Tech campus.
The building with the highest
elevation is actually Lee Hall
, which until May 17, 2009
was home to the transmitter of campus radio station WUVT
. The tower for WUVT
atop Price Mountain.
Blacksburg is served primarily by US-460
, both major arteries for travel in the
region. The two roads, together with Route 114
, and Route 8
provide the major highway
infrastructure for the developing area. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is currently working with
Department of Transportation to build the Virginia Smart Road which will connect
Blacksburg directly to I-81, thus significantly
decreasing the travel time between Blacksburg and its much larger
The road, together with the current
, will create a loop around Blacksburg,
thus alleviating current traffic congestion and aiding further
development of the area.
Public transportation is provided by Blacksburg Transit
BT provides bus transportation
primarily to and from the campus of Virginia Tech.
Students and faculty ride the BT
free with their respective student and
faculty ids. Virginia Tech subsidizes BT for this service.
transportation is available to anyone for a fee, and during special
events the service is often free. U Car
, a subsidiary of U-Haul
, offers a
service around the Virginia
Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive
Airport serves Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus for general
Weather station, from Blacksburg)
(BLACKSBURG Weather station, from
As of the census of 2000, there were
39,573 people, 13,162 households, and 4,777 families residing in
the town, of which 23,895, or 60%, were college students. The
population density was 2,044.2
people per square mile (789.2/km¬≤). There were 13,732 housing units
at an average density of 709.4/sq mi (273.9/km¬≤). The racial
makeup of the town was 84.39% White, 7.80% Asian, 4.39% African American, 0.11%
Native American 0.06%
0.90% from other races, and 2.36%
from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.32% of the
Area (MSA), which includes the town of Christiansburg, the independent city of Radford, and all of Montgomery, Pulaski, and Giles counties has an estimated population of 157,614 and
is currently one of the faster growing MSAs in
There were 13,162 households out of which 16.3% had children under
the age of 18 living with them, 28.7% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 63.7% were non-families.
26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.79.
In the town the population was spread out with 9.7% under the age
of 18, 57.4% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 9.2% from 45 to
64, and 4.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
22 years. For every 100 females there are 127.0 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 129.7 males.
The median household income was $22,513 and the median income for a
family was $51,810. Males had a median income of $37,129 versus
$24,321 for females. The per capita
income for the town was $13,946. About 15.9% of families and
43.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.7% of those under
the age of 18 and 6.1% of those 65 and older.
About 87% of the town's residents has in-home Internet access with
65% using a broadband connection.
Eighty-five percent of the community has a college education.
The Virginia Tech Corporate
Research Center is home to several companies of varying sizes
including VTLS, Honeywell, Virginia College of
Osteopathic Medicine, Rackspace's
Email and Apps Division (formerly Mailtrust and
Webmail.us), and the National
Weather Service which maintains its Southwestern Virginia headquarters there.
The town is also home to MOOG, a major
contractor for the defense department and the health care industry.
The town and county continue to recruit major industry to the area.
its close proximity to Virginia Tech and Radford University, Blacksburg is an ideal location for developing
high tech industry.
Points of interest
Annual town events
- The International Street Fair & Parade held in
Blacksburg takes place on the first Saturday of every April.
countries are represented by the student body of Virginia Tech and individuals from the community during the
festival. College Avenue is closed
for food and craft booths and the stage features an eclectic mix of
melodies and musical performances from around the
- Steppin' Out, the town's first annual street festival,
has taken place on the first Friday and Saturday of every August
since 1976 when it was known as the Deadwood Days Summer Festival.
The festival's name was changed in 1980. Steppin' Out features over
150 artists and crafts people from around the United States selling
unique handcrafted items, local merchants holding final clearance
sidewalk sales, local restaurants selling food through outdoor
vending, multiple stages for live performances, and fun for the
entire family. The area from North Main Street and Alumni Mall
(sometimes even more to the north) to South Main Street and Roanoke
Street and Draper Road and Lee Street is designated for the
festival. The Draper Mile Run, which was started in 1982, is a
one-mile (1.6 km) road race for runners of all ages that is
held annually during the first evening of the
Organizations, associations and clubs
- Blacksburg: A Brief Early History | Virginia
- Historic Smithfield: History and Research
- Robert Preston papers
- Virginia Tech's 125th Anniversary: Blacksburg Was
Incorporated Year Before Virginia Tech Opened
- A Special Place for 200 Years: Blacksburg Social Life and
- Blacksburg Presbyterian: BPC
- New River Valley Dining Guide - Blacksburg Restaurants in
- A Special Place for 200 Years: Business and
Industry in Blacksburg
- A Special Place for 200 Years: Blacksburg's Mayors and the
Evolution of Town Government
- A Special Place For 200 Years: Blacksburg
- History of Lyric
- A Special Place for 200 Years: Blacksburg Educates Its
- Economic Development History of Interstate 81 in
- Blacksburg Transit - BT History
- History of the Smart Road
- Welcome to Blacksburg! | Virginia
- WUVT to Operate at Reduced Power Starting
- U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder: DP-2.
Profile of Selected Social Characteristics: 2000
- Campus & Town Guide: Virginia Tech and the Town of
- downtownBLACKSBURG.COM Events
- Blacksburg Bicentennial: Timeline
- downtownBLACKSBURG.COM Steppin' Out