Rare Virginia published map showing the route of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, extending from Lynchburg, Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee.
The map was published in Richmond at about the same time as the full route was completed in 1856.
Built in the 1850s, the Virginia & Tennessee ran through southwestern Virginia along the length of the Great Valley of Virginia. The railroad extended westward from Lynchburg, through a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the town of Big Lick (now Roanoke), before turning southwestward and followed the Great Valley to Bristol.
After the Virginia government refused to fund its construction, the city of Lynchburg incorporated the railroad on March 24, 1848. Construction of the road bed began in 1850 and was completed on October 1, 1856.
During the Civil War, the railroad served as a key supply, food and troop movement route for the Confederate States Army, particularly from the capital of Richmond to the interior at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Among the vital transportation services provided by was to move raw materials from the copper mines near Cleveland, Tennessee, the lead mines near Bristol, the salt works at Saltville, Virginia and saltpeter caves throughout the region. Union forces finally captured much of the railroad and destroyed tracks and rolling stock in late 1864, although service was periodically interrupted by a series of cavalry raids earlier in the war.
Captain William Blackford attended the University of Virginia, studied engineering, and married Mary Blackford, daughter of former Virginia Governor (1836-37) Wyndham Robertson. He began his career with his father-in-law's plaster of paris mining business, before beoming assistant engineer on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. Blackford entered service as Lieutenant in the 1st Virginia Cavalry in May 1861, Colonel J.E.B. Stuart, commanding. He was appointed Captain, CS Engineers, in May 1862, and joined Major General Stuart's staff as Chief Engineer. He was cited by Stuart several times during the war for particular bravery, notably at 1st and 2nd Manassas. He served on the General's staff during the Maryland Campaign. After Stuart was killed at Yellow Tavern, Virginia, Blackford was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 1st Regiment, CS Engineer Troops. He was noted, particularly, for his work on the fortifications at Petersburg. He remained in that job until surrendering at Appomattox April 9,1865.
He resumed his engineering work as Chief Engineer with the Lynchburg & Danville Railroad, then operated a Louisiana sugar plantation. He was Professor of Mechanics and Drawing and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Virginia Tech) 1880-81. He was then with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad til 1890, when he "engaged in oyster planting experiments" on Lynhaven Bay to his death in 1905.
The map is extremely rare. OCLC locates 3 examples, Library of Congress, Penn State and the State Library of Virginia.