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Brookneal is an incorporated town in Campbell Countymarker, Virginiamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 1,259 as of the 2000 census. It is part of the Lynchburgmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area.


On January 14, 1802, "Brooke Neal" was established the Commonwealth of Virginia in Chapter 65 of the Acts of Assemblymarker. It was named after John Brooke and his wife, Sarah (nee Neal) Brooke, who established a tobacco warehouse which became known as "Brooke's Warehouse" which was located near the boat landing and ferry crossing on the Staunton Rivermarker.

The "Town of Brookneal" in Campbell County, Virginiamarker was incorporated and a charter issued in 1908. Later to become the smallest incorporated town in the Central Virginia Region , Brookneal was established as it served as the closest center of commerce for portions of Campbell, Charlottemarker, and Halifaxmarker counties.. As transportation modes developed, Brookneal's location offered proximity to waterways, roads and railroads.

From the earliest days of settlement of the area by Europeans in the Colony of Virginia, the American Revolutionary War era, and extending through most of the first half of the 19th century in Virginia, roads were primitive and poorly maintained, and waterways were a major transportation resource for commerce. Upstream from the fall line marking the western reaches of the coastal plain of Virginia (and adjacent areas of North Carolinamarker), canals and other improvements aided navigation by batteaux and other watercraft before railroads supplanted river transportation in the Piedmont region located east of the Mountains. Just south of Brookneal lies the Roanoke Rivermarker (also known as the Staunton Rivermarker), which flows east to its mouth at Plymouth, North Carolinamarker and the Atlantic Ocean via the sounds in eastern North Carolina. Through the efforts of the Roanoke Navigation Company, established with the assistance of by both states in 1815 , passage was possible from as far west as Salemmarker in Roanoke Countymarker. By 1828, it was notes tha boats were traversing 124 miles of "tolerable good and safe navigation" of the Roanoke River between Brookneal and Salem.

An early advocate of the waterway was Patrick Henry, the first Governor of Virginia after statehood. His Red Hill Plantation was located near Brookneal in rural Charlotte County. (The plantation is now a museum known as the Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorialmarker). A ferry was established on the Staunton River to connect Red Hill (in Charlotte County) with Campbell County and Halifax County.

By the 1850s, the new technology of railroads was rapidly overtaking the canal systems in many areas, and providing access to additional places. In 1887 the construction of the Lynchburg and Durham Railroad began at Lynchburg, passing south through Brookneal. Just south of town, the railroad crossed the Staunton River into Halifax County. It was completed in 1892, and almost immediately, was leased to the Norfolk and Western Railway, and merged into it in 1896. In 1904, the Tidewater Railway was formed by industrialist financier Henry Huttleston Rogers to provide a pathway for the shipment of bituminous coal from southern West Virginiamarker to coal piers on the ice-free harbor of Hampton Roadsmarker. Planned by Campbell County native William Nelson Page, the right-of-way selected for favorable grades passed along the north bank of the river, crossing the L&D. In 1907, the Tidewater Railway was combined with the Deepwater Railway (initially a West Virginiamarker short line railroad) to form the new Virginian Railway. By 1908, construction was nearing completion, and the new line officially began service in July 1, 1909. (In 1959, the Virginia Railway was merged with the Norfolk and Western, and each later became part of the modern Norfolk Southern system in the early 1980s).

Town of Brookneal suffered a devastating series of disasters in 1912, culminating in a fire that destroyed much of the town. However, the citizens of Brookneal rebuilt and recovered, and substantial brick houses replaced many of the old wooden structures. Soon, the small town resumed its growth.

Served for many years by passenger trains and freight service on both railroad lines, and later by U.S. Highway 501 and State Route 40, Brookneal developed a diverse economy with manufacturing, agriculture, service firms and retail offerings. The proximity to the river enhanced its recreational opportunities for residents and visitors as well.


Brookneal is located at (37.052001, -78.944958) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.4 km²), of which, 3.5 square miles (9.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (3.31%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,259 people, 509 households, and 325 families residing in the town. The population density was 360.0 people per square mile (138.9/km²). There were 580 housing units at an average density of 165.8/sq mi (64.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 63.78% White, 34.71% African American, 0.56% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.59% of the population.

There were 509 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 23.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 79.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $25,938, and the median income for a family was $35,592. Males had a median income of $26,800 versus $20,089 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,164. About 15.2% of families and 19.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 11.5% of those age 65 or over.



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