Established in 1792 as Liberty, the seat of Bedford County, the town suffered a devastating downtown fire in 1884 but was quickly rebuilt in the boom times of the early 1890s and renamed Bedford City. By the mid-twentieth century, the commercial center, as occurred in many American towns, had fallen into a state of disrepair, but with the help of Virginia's Main Street Program, it has been rejuvenated. Although still a local commercial center and county seat, Bedford lost its nineteenth-century importance as a tobacco manufacturing area, but food production and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, electronics, and machinery have helped fill its place.
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