"In point of soil, climate...and good neighborhood I think it the finest part of Virginia"   
-Central Virginia Resident Thomas Jefferson 

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Lynchburg, Virginia History


1757 John Lynch, at age 17, starts his Ferry Service at Lynch's Landing across the James, near present-day 9th street.  Lynchburg's first Quaker meeting house is built as well.
1783 The Lynchburg Community Market is founded.
1784 John Lynch petitions the Virgnia General Assembly for a town charter.
1786 Virginia General Assembly establishes a "town on the lands of Lynch in the County of Campbell."
1787 The first retail stores in Lynchburg open.
1791 The Miller-Claytor house is built.  Thomas Jefferson is reported to have disproved the notion here that the "love apple," known today as a tomato, was poisonous by biting into one, providing the basis for today's Tomatoe Faire Festival at the Lynchburg Community Market.
1792 Lynchburg's first tobacco warehouse (of many) is built.
1798 Lynchburg's first newspaper is created.
1790's "Bateaux" boats are used to deliver locally-grown tobacco and other products downstream to Richmond.
1806 Thomas Jefferson begins building his year-round villa, Poplar Forest, in Bedford County. Lynchburg's first church is also constructed, and the Old City Cemetery is established.
1815 Dr. George Cabell, physician to Central Virginia native Patrick Henry,  builds Point of Honor on Daniel's Hill, overlooking the James River.
1820 City founder John Lynch dies at age 80.
1828 Lynchburg is the first city in the nation to build a high-source water system, creating pressure for fire hoses and city fountains.
1832 Construction begins of the James River-Kanawha Canal as a segment of a conceived canal to link the James to the Ohio River.  The canal spans from Lynchburg to Richmond, and is finished by 1837.
1833 The Lynchburg City Chamber of Commerce is formed.
1830's The height of the Lynchburg tobacco trade.  Over 50 tons of the region's cash crop are processed a year. As a result, Lynchburg became one of the wealthiest cities in the nation in per capita income, second only to the whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Lynchburg reaches nearly 6,000 people in population.
1849 The Virginia & Tennessee Railroad begins construction.  Three years later it was inaugurated.
1852 Union Station is built for the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, and it was a switching station for the Chesapeake & Ohio, Southern Railways, and Norfolk & Western lines.  Lynchburg is formally recognized as a city, and its  population reaches 11,000.
The Civil War & Reconstruction
1861 In January, the City of Lynchburg votes to stay in the Union, but by April 1861, they repeal their decision.

With three railroads and a canal system in place by the beginning of the war, Lynchburg functioned as a transportation and communication hub for the Confederate States of America, as well as a supplying station and a major hospital center.  2,200 Confederate soldiers from fourteen states are buried in the Old City Cemetery, including six Confederate generals, most notably General Jubal A. Early.  Its strategic importance even made Lynchburg the capital of the Confederacy for a day.

1864 The Battle of Lynchburg - Gen. Jubal A. Early, an area native, devised an ingenious plan which spared the city from the brunt of the battle. By running empty train cars repeatedly through the area, he created the illusion of incoming reinforcements. Though additional Confederate troops did arrive to confront Union General David Hunter's men, they were still undermanned. Hunter's  troops retreated less than a mile from the city's Fort Early and its "well-manned" outer defenses. Early's rouse had worked.
1865 April 9th - The Civil War ends 20 miles from Lynchburg at Appomattox in the home of Wilmer McLean.
1880 The first, horse-pulled streetcar debuts in Lynchburg.  Lynchburg's population reaches 15,000.
1886 Lynchburg's Centennial.   Citizens claimed that, in this year, more tobacco had been sold in Lynchburg than anywhere else in the world.
1888 The Craddock-Terry Company is founded, becoming a leader in shoes, textiles, and dry goods, industries which kept the Lynchburg  area viable with the decline of the tobacco industry.
1880's The Lynchburg area steel manufacuring business booms, earning the nickname "The Pittsburg of the South."    Grand homes are thus constructed in the Rivermont and Diamond Hill areas of Lynchburg.
1891 Lynchburg's horse-drawn streetcars are superceded with the appearance of electric streetcars, which operated in Lynchburg for more than half a century.
1893 Randolph-Macon Woman's College is founded.
The Twentieth Century
1901 Sweet Briar College is founded near Amherst.
1903 Lynchburg College is founded.
1905 The Academy of Music opens in Lynchburg as a playhouse for the arts in the Hill City.
1907 Lynchburg's first public library, the Jones Memorial Library, opens.
1912 Lynchburg General Hospital is established.
1917 Lynchburg becomes known to WWI as "Lunchbag," Virginia, after stopping in the area for sack lunches en route.
1920 Lynchburg elects to move to the Council-Manager form of government.
1924 Virginia Baptist Hospital built.
1930 WLVA, the first radio station in Lynchburg, broadcasts.
1931 The first airport in the region opens.
1938 The first sports stadiums are built in Lynchburg for baseball and football.
1942 With the advent of WWII, Lynchburg becomes the state's highest producer of scrap metal for the war effort.
1955 Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Technologies relocates to Lynchburg, affecting a change in Lynchburg's post-war economy to technology-based industries.
1959 Pittman Plaza, the first retail center outside of downtown, opens.
1962 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks at E.C. Glass High School.
1969 Hurricane Camille ravages Central Virginia.
1971 Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. Elmer Townes co-found Liberty Baptist College, which has been renamed Liberty University.
1978 Initiative for the revitalization of Downtown begins.
1980's & 1990's Lynchburg moves forward with technological growth and strong companies such as General Electric, Ericsson, Framatone, Babcock & Wilcox, and J. Crew, to name a few!
Today ...you can start planning your visit to experience Historic Lynchburg!
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