Our objective for this trip was the town of Farmville, Virginia, home to LongwoodUniversity. One of the traditions of Senior Year for American high school students is the College Road Trip--a chance for the student and parents to check out prospective universities and their programs of study. This day, Susan and I would be taking Julia to investigate LongwoodUniversity, a state-supported university in south central Virginia.
Almost by definition, a college trip is a road trip--and a road trip brings with it all the attendant possibilities for new experiences and discoveries. The road would take us south to Richmond and then into the countryside of the Southside region of Virginia.
Main Street, Farmville
It’s an area replete with the history of colonial Virginia plantations, events immediately leading to the end of the Civil War at Appomattox, and happenings in more modern times.
Our trip began with the usual route south, the “back way” via Occoquan to pick up Interstate 95 south of the congestion around Springfield. We left at in the afternoon.(We knew we had to be on our way before to avoid rush hour traffic.) Traffic was moderate for a Thursday afternoon in summer. We reached Richmond by How now to proceed? Richmond does not have a complete “beltway” (circumferential highway) on its west side. (It does on its East side, to permit traffic for Williamsburg, the VirginiaPeninsula, and the beaches to bypass the city.
Farmville is very welcoming
) Susan had mapped one route while I had mapped another. Well, I decided to take my route for the “outbound” journey. It was rush hour now in Richmond, anyway, and I thought we should not try to go through the city. Nevertheless, mine was a roundabout route: from I-95 south to I-295 west to I-64 west one exit to Virginia 288 south. VA288 is a new outer bypass expressway. It has the appearance of going from nowhere to nowhere. (I suppose its purpose is to foster development in the outer Richmond suburbs.)
VA288 did lead after about 20 miles (34 km) to US Highway 360, the road to take us to Southside. The intersection was a bustling with recent development. New housing and commercial zones and all sorts of restaurants and “big box” stores lined US 360 here. But it soon came to an abrupt end, with farmland opening up beyond. Now began an approximately 50 mile (84 km) drive to Farmville. The route is lined with numerous historical markers describing Virginia’s expansion in colonial times and chronicling the retreat of the Confederate Army to Appomattox after Union forces captured Richmond and Petersburg on April 1, 1865.
Farmville City Hall
We arrived in Farmville at after taking the scenic route to get there. (We followed US 360 all the way to the junction with US 460 rather than take a shortcut.) I hadn’t known quite what to expect. Farmville is the largest town in south central Virginia between Richmond and Lynchburg. The town was founded in 1798, laid out by the Randolph family from land from their estate called Bizarre. (With a name like that, you know there has to be a story. More on the story of Bizarre in tomorrow’s blog.)
We checked in to the new Hampton Inn on Third Street (US 460). This area, on the outskirts of Farmville, has a new multiplex cinema, shopping center, and apartment complexes. For dinner, we went to at Charlie’s Waterfront Café in the old industrial section of town. Several large 19th Century brick textile mills and tobacco warehouses have been restored and converted to retail and commercial spaces.
After dinner, we took an evening drive around the Longwood University campus before our tour the next day.
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