17 November 2008

That's My World ... from Buchanan, Virginia

The Old Soda Fountain
Vintage Theater

Buchanan City Hall


Buchanan is located approximately 8 miles from my home. Each fall the town has the Mountain Magic in the Fall festival. The pictures are from this event taken back in October 2008. Please check out That's My World where people from all over the globe share pictures of their part of the world.

History of Buchanan

From its earliest development, the Town of Buchanan, Virginia was a principal crossing of the James River via the "Great Valley Road" and other regional transportation networks. As an early transportation-oriented community, the Town included taverns and ordinares, stables, blacksmith shops, wagon and carriage makers, general merchandise stores to service travelers, teamsters, and producers of goods being sent to external markets from the region.

Transportation routes and changes in modes of transportation have had primary influence on Buchanan's history. People settled in Buchanan because of the Town's location at a major intersection of transportation routes. Commercial and manufacturing enterprises located there because of the Town's advantageous location for transport of raw materials, goods and products. Changes in means of transportation shaped the Town's periods of growth in commerce and manufacturing.

Since the 1740's the area now encompassed by the Town of Buchanan has always been distinguished as the point of intersection between two principal transportation corridors: the great northeast-southwest overland route west of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Pennsylvania and the old Upland south; and the James River, the principal river system of central Virginia that provides and east-west route for transport of goods from Mountain and Valley Region, through the Piedmont, to the Tidewater and Chesapeake Bay.

In the 1740's the earliest trace of the Great Road from Philadelphia to western Virginia first crossed the James River at Looney's Ferry, whose approximate location is marked with an historic highway marker along route 11 west of downtown. Frontier colonial leader and land speculator James Patton obtained lands at the Great Valley Road crossing of the James River in the mid-1740's. His heirs the Buchanans, Boyds and Andersons acquired title to those lands and settled there over the next three decades. William Anderson laid out the town of Pattonsburg on the north side of the James River in 1788 while James Boyd laid out the Town of Buchanan on the south side of the James across from Pattonsburg in 1811. Plats of Buchanan in 1811 and Pattonsburg in 1818 established a grid of streets and enumerated lots that conform in large part with the current tax maps.

Water transport on the James River was improved from Buchanan to Tidewater by 1807 and the two towns became centers for processing agricultural products from southwestern Virginia for transport to Richmond and the Chesapeake. The Virginia General Assembly in 1819 acted to establish warehouses for inspection of tobacco and flour in both towns. River traffic increased in the 1830's with internal improvements that brought a better road system to Buchanan from western Virginia. By the mid-1830's internal improvements resulted in completion of the Cumberland Gap Turnpike from the Kentucky border to central Botetourt County.

By the 1840's Buchanan's buildings included the John Wilson warehouse, store and residence, the Botetourt Hotel and the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches, all brick structures which still stand today. By 1851 the James River and Kanawha Canal was completed from Richmond to Buchanan. At this time the two towns experienced a boom in commercial and artisan activity during the decade before the Civil War.

During the Civil War Buchanan served as an important Confederate supply depot for shipment of agricultural produce and pig iron to Richmond via the James River and Kanawha Canal. Federal General David Hunter marched through Pattonsburg and Buchanan on June 13, 1864 on his ill-fated raid of Lynchburg. After the Civil War commerce and manufacturing declined in Buchanan and Pattonsburg.

Numbers of town merchants and artisans fell sharply as canal traffic on the James River from Buchanan to Lynchburg was eclipsed by rail traffic from Salem to Lynchburg. Steel rail transportation came to the towns of Buchanan and Pattonsburg in the early 1880's, the time when Buchanan incorporated Pattonsburg into its Town limits.

Industrial growth and revival of commerce followed completion of the Norfolk and Western and the Chesapeake and Ohio lines through town because the new railroads hauled heavy freight to distant markets faster and at a lower cost than earlier wagons and canal boats.

The Continental Can Company and the Virginia Can Company established significant manufacturing operations in Buchanan after 1903. The Virginia Can Company employed at least 38 employees in 1906 and in 1910 owned buildings valued at $16,000 on a Norfolk and Western track siding just east of the original Town limits.

By 1920 railroad employees far outnumbered self-employed artisans. By World War I industrial manufacturing had replaced pre-Civil War patterns of production by skilled craftsmen. Industrial employment in Buchanan increased between 1920 and 1940 with limestone and bone product operations employing over 400 workers, many of whom commuted to town by automobile on newly improved hard surface roads.

On the eve of World War II, Buchanan's population had grown to 870 inhabitants and Land Books for the Town recorded 70 more lots with buildings than in 1910. Industrial employment continued to provide for Buchanan residents during and after World War II. Hafleigh and Co. converted to military production during the war and sold out to Groendyke Manufacturing Co. in 1965, an operation that by 1980 employed 125 workers in the manufacture of silicone and rubber products. The James River Limestone Company employed 125 workers in 1980. Buchanan's textile industry employed between 130 and 200 workers from the 1950's through the 1970's.

Since 1960 truck traffic on Interstate 81, the latest upgrade of the great overland route west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, shipped precut and finished garments to and from Buchanan.
Following recent annexations, Buchanan's population has grown to over 1,200 inhabitants.
Today, after decades of physical and economic decline, the Town of Buchanan has become a leader within the area for economic development within the context of Historic Preservation. This contemporary practice of development uses historic preservation as a catalyst for growth, promoting quality growth which respects the community's traditional land use development patterns.

After six years of concentrated downtown revitalization activities following the "Main Street Principles," and 3.5 million dollars of private sector investment, downtown has once again become host to a variety of businesses and residences proudly representing the community's dreams and aspirations.


42 comments:

Hi! I'm Kirsten... said...

My goodness, this is wonderful! Even though I am "stuck" in Ohio now I grew up in Vermont in a very very small town and I have such pleasant memories of my growing up years, many similar to what you describe here!

Thanks for sharing!

Louise said...

A charming little town. I think the festival would be a blast.

LOUISE said...

Looks like a great community spirit going on in this town. A blog is a great way of sharing a small part of our world. Such a lovely blue sky too. x

fishing guy said...

Erin: I must say that is an interesting look into your world in Virgina.

Sara G said...

WOW, great post and pictures!!
Thanks for sharing and thank you for commenting on my blog!!
Take care

Carver said...

I enjoyed your post so much. Very informative about the history of Buchanan. I enjoyed all the shots and the one of the Soda Fountain took me back to my youth.

MaryAnn Ashley said...

What a quaint town.

antigoni said...

Excellent post and thanks for sharing.

Indrani said...

Beautiful series of shots and lot of info. Have a great time at the festival.

The Tile Lady said...

Wonderful My World Tuesday! I really enjoyed reading about Buchanan and the Valley Road!
Marie

2sweetnsaxy said...

That looks like fun and I enjoyed the history. I think small towns have such a great flavor.

I didn't think anyone would remember Orbach's. I did date myself! LOL! :-)

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

Thanks for sharing a look into your world. I so look forward to exploring North American small towns. They are so different to Villages in the UK, but there's much in common too I bet.

Catherine said...

Thanks for the tour. Each new page in my World, teaches me something new. I would like to visit it for real. For many of you, the visit reminds souvenirs, for me it's an eacj time discovery.
Bonne soirée in Buchanan from Paris (Fr)

Mojo said...

I've probably been through there -- or by there at least -- a few times. My son is currently enrolled at SUNY Potsdam in upstate NY and I-81 is the most direct (and toll-free!) route once you get past Richmond.

Looks like a charming little burg, though I'm sure I'd go completely nuts within a month if I lived there.

But I like the fact that they're smart-planning their growth. Urban sprawl has completely taken over the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of NC in much the same way that it did Dallas (just not on as large a scale). More of that we could do without!

BNS said...

Thanks for this very interesting look at Buchanan's history and place in the world - then and now.

Eki Akhwan said...

Your photos remind me of the small town in PA I used to live in when I studied in the US. Your city looks more colorful, though. Definitely very American in look.

Thank you for sharing the interesting sights and history of your city, and thank you also for commenting on my post yesterday.

Eki
BANDUNG DAILY PHOTO

Denise BC said...

I thank you for sharing your world. Grateful for the nice visit.
Hugs, Denise

Rural Writer said...

What an interesting post! Sounds like a nice town.

Jan said...

Wow, what a wonderful history post. The festival looks like fun. For a Californian, it's weird to see the Stars and Bars, next to the Stars and Stripes.

babooshka said...

Fascinating history.That was a great virtual walk around your town.

Jeanne said...

What great pictures. Love the fountain shop and movie theatre. Thanks for sharing.

PJ said...

Buchanan looks like a friendly southern town. Your love for it shows in every frame.

April said...

What a beautiful place! The buildings look so pretty. I like the 'old soda fountain'.

SandyCarlson said...

That sure is a lovely looking little town.

uncleawang said...

Thank You for sharing the intresting sight and the history of your world and also Thank You very much for visiting my world.
For eating out at our night market the best menu is'Beef bone herb soup'.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

I love those old signs on the buildings! And the old red brick--you can tell it's worn.

www.GreenerPastures--ACityGirlGoesCountry.blogspot.com

chrome3d said...

That looked like a fun and lively little town.

Lew said...

Interesting history of the town and area. The small towns usually have a sense of history because generations of families stay close to home. we travel I-81 about twice a year on our way to the Carolinas. Thanks for visiting my world.

Lilli & Nevada said...

What great history this town has, and the photos are wonderful, It looks like a nice festival as well.
thanks for stopping in at my blog

singaporeshortstories.blogspot.com said...

superb view and scenary!

Sandradb said...

Sweet town, interesting post and very beautiful pictures! Thank you for your visit and greetings from Croatia.

magiceye said...

that was very informative indeed

Denise said...

Great photos and that is so interesting. A wonderful post.

Daryl said...

Nice .. street fairs are such fun .. thanks for all your visits!

:-Daryl

Tanya said...

Hey neighbor, I'm in Botetourt too, and a native Californian! I love Buchanan. I've thinking of taking the kids to the theater there tonight to see Wall-E (but the cold might change my mind :) )

mirage2g said...

Surely looks like a very busy place with a friendly neighborhood! A small town with a big heart...

John said...

What a great post.
Thanks for sharing.

Liz said...

That was really fascinating.I'm from a small town that has grown over the years, but the small towns around it have declined. Schools have closed, gas stations shut down. It makes me so sad.

Kay said...

Your town looks like such a wonderful place to live. It's straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

MedaM said...

This is really great and intersting history post. The photos of the small town under the lovely blue sky are beautiful. I would say that was a nice and relaxing festival.

Lakeland Jo said...

I loved to see the pictures of where you live- it makes me want to visit.I love travelling.

Olga said...

What an adorable little town! Btw, I noticed how similar we are :) I also moved 7 years ago from the West coast to DC area...work for the govt, but love everything that is outside of it :)