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Floyd County

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Rural Floyd County, on one of Virginia's most elevated plateaus, features spectacular agricultural and scenic landscapes, including Buffalo Knob, named for its outline that recalls a buffalo's hump. The county, as the point of origin for several tributaries of the New River, forms a portion of the eastern Continental Divide.

When formed in 1831, the county was named for Virginia's then governor, John Floyd. Although no prominent architects were working in the somewhat isolated rural county during the nineteenth century, master builders like Irish immigrant Henry Dillon, raised and trained in Charleston, South Carolina, made important contributions. By the 1850s an east-west toll road (now VA 8) was completed between Floyd and Christiansburg, the seat of neighboring Montgomery County, and served as the county's principal route until a road from Roanoke (U.S. 221) was completed up Bent Mountain in the late 1920s. The county's mountainous terrain deterred industrialists from introducing regional rail and water transportation. Nevertheless, copper, nickel, cobalt, and soapstone were extracted by small-scale mining operators in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This led to the establishment of communities with such evocative names as Copper Hill and Alum Ridge. Soapstone in particular was an important material used in construction from the early nineteenth century.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was a significant addition to the county in the mid-twentieth century, serving as a stimulus to tourism and associated commercial ventures. The county's agricultural economy continues, with Christmas tree and livestock farms. Recent decades have ushered in small arts and crafts industries established by newer residents attracted to the area's relatively pristine rural environment. The town of Floyd, initially named Jacksonville, has been the seat of local government since the county's founding and remains the area's principal population center.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Anne Carter Lee

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