Originally located where the Dan River flows into the Roanoke (Staunton) River, Clarksville now stands adjacent to the John H. Kerr Reservoir (known locally as Buggs Island Lake) that was formed when the rivers were dammed in 1953. The town was laid out in 1818 and developed as a tobacco market. A fire in 1893 destroyed many of the buildings in the commercial district, which was rebuilt with two- and three-story masonry buildings. Residential neighborhoods developed at the western edge of town with Colonial Revival houses and bungalows on generous lots.
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