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Map, Blacksburg c. 1900

Map of early Blacksburg (1900).

Photograph, Alexander Black House

Alexander Black House

Native American tribes inhabited the New River Valley long before the arrival of Europeans, but the region’s recorded history originates in the 17th century, when explorers Thomas Batte and Robert Fallam arrived in the area. 

Colonel William Preston arrived in the 1770s and founded Smithfield Plantation on land he had inherited at Draper’s Meadow. Around the same time, Samuel Black purchased 600 acres of land nearby and moved to the area with his family.

By 1798 William Black, Samuel’s son, laid out a 16 block grid of streets and lots that became Blacksburg. The establishment of railroads and the improvement of local roads in the early 19th century made Blacksburg a bustling hub of regional commerce.

The town officially incorporated in 1871 and had a population of nearly 700 by the time New Town was established.