The Duck Pond is situated at the confluence of three spring-fed streams that originate in Blacksburg and flow into Stroubles Creek. Located within Virginia Tech's campus grounds, the park around the Duck Pond serves to unify the university's campus and provides opportunities for a variety of recreational activities. It features pedestrian paths, picnic tables, seating areas, and a gazebo. Artificially created in the 1930s, the pond's serene waters, roaming waterfowl, and lush tree cover makes the Duck Pond a scenic spot—popular amongst students and visitors alike. Near the park is a woodland amphitheatre; "The Grove," home of Virginia Tech's President; and Solitude, a historic home and NRHP site.
Backstory and Context
The park's upper and lower ponds, which demarcate the division between the Upper and Lower Stroubles Creek watersheds, are man-made. The upper pond was constructed from 1880 to 1881 and served as an ice pond for the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College until 1898 when the campus’s first refrigeration plant was installed. The lower pond was artificially created in 1937 during the enlargement of the Drillfield. At that time, the Main Branch was culverted underground and a dam was constructed. The process of damming the site where the two branches merged is what led to the formation of the Duck Pond.
Today, the park area around the Duck Pond is a popular recreational spot. Despite issues regarding pollution, which date back to the 1800s, the pond is populated by a variety of wildlife species, including Canada geese, mallard ducks, Muscovy ducks, and many varieties of fish. Every spring, the College of Natural Resources and Environment stages an informal fishing tournament at the pond. Additionally, visitors to the park can walk along pedestrian paths, picnic, or simply enjoy the view from the gazebo.
Points of interest at the park include a large black willow tree included in the 2008 book "Remarkable Trees of Virginia" by Nancy Ross Hugo, Professor Emeritus Jeff Kirwan, and Robert Llewellyn. The park also serves to link several highlights of Virginia Tech's central campus. The informal plantings on the site merge with a wooded slope to the south, which is connected to a woodland amphitheatre and "The Grove"—the residence of Virginia Tech's President. Adjacent to the Duck Pond is Solitude, the oldest structure on campus. The historic home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Virginia Historical Landmark.
"Stroubles Creek." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed February 12, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroubles_Creek.
"Virginia Tech Duck Pond." The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Accessed February 12, 2017. http://tclf.org/landscapes/Virginia-tech-duck-pond.