New Castle, located at the confluence of Johns and Craig creeks and platted in 1818, began as a small market village and service center. After the Cumberland Gap Turnpike (now approximated by VA 42) was built through the county in the early 1830s, New Castle grew into a more substantial town. Due to its size and nearly central location, the town was selected as the seat of local government upon the county's formation in 1851. The construction of a railroad spur line known as the Craig Valley Branch, which linked New Castle to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad's main line, brought several highly speculative real estate schemes to the town in the late 1880s. But while the major economic development they sought never came and New Castle remained a quiet country town, commercial and residential developments did result in substantial Italianate stores and sophisticated Queen Anne houses.
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