Corner of Draper and Clay Streets (Stop B)
We now stand at the southern-most point of the Sixteen Squares, where I’ll mention the railroad system that used to exist here. Blacksburg was never on a main railroad, but in 1854 Cambria, nearby Christiansburg, became a stop on the Virginia/Tennessee Railroad. A narrow winding road led from the station in Cambria to Blacksburg until 1904 when a spur from Cambria to Blacksburg was built. This rail spur was named the Huckleberry for the abundance of native berries that grew along the tracks.
Backstory and Context
The first depot in Blacksburg was a simple wooden structure located on the current site of the library. Notice that the architecture of the building is reminiscent of a train depot. The second depot was located on the side of the municipal building, diagonally from the library, and it served as the main entry point to the Town for students and visitors for many years. Trains would stop to unload their passengers and then had to back up all the way for the entire return trip to Cambria.
When the university was built, coal-powered power plants were needed to supply the area. The drop-off point for the coal for these plants was located across Draper Rd, where a trestle allowed railcars to drop coal onto the trucks below for delivery to the plants on campus. The section of the railroad between Blacksburg and what is now the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg is now a walking/biking path known as the Huckleberry Trail.