History and Culture
Prince Edward County was created in 1754, from Amelia County. The county was named after Prince Edward Augustus, son of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Frederick was the eldest son of King George II, but when he died before his father did, the crown passed to his brother, who became King George III and reigned infamously, throughout the Revolutionary War.
The original county seat was in the village of Worsham where the original County Clerks office still stands. In 1871, the county seat was moved to Farmville, Virgina which was formed in 1798.
In the 1850's a railroad, known as South Side Railroad, was built between the cities of Lynchburg and Petersburg passing through Farmville, Burkeville and Pamplin City. This route was subsidized by a contribution from the Town of Farmville and required an expensive crossing of the Appomattox River.
This crossing became known as the High Bridge which went on to be heavily damaged during the final days of the Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee was retreating from Petersburg towards Appomattox Courthouse for the final surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865 when the Battle of High Bridge was fought.
Confederate General William "Billy" Mahone rebuilt the South Side Railroad and then in 1870 merged with the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, as well as the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to form the Atlantic Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O), stretching 400 miles across the most southern section of Virginia from Norfolk to Bristol. When the railroad was purchased in the early 1880's, it was renamed the Norfolk and Western Railroad (N&W). Then, in 1982 the railroad became part of the current Norfolk Southern Railway system. When the costs to maintain High Bridge became too high, the Farmville service was downgraded and then this portion of the route was abandoned.
Today, High Bridge has been renovated as part of the Rails to Trails project. It is 31 miles of non-motorized hiking, biking, birding and horseback riding trails known as High Bridge Trails State Park.
Navigation of the Appomattox River and the expansion of the railroad encouraged the early growth of Prince Edward County. Historically, the economy was principally supported by agriculture, forestry and related products.
During the middle to late 1950's, following the national trend, agricultural operations, including tobacco, dairy and grain products began to decline. In 1960, 28% of the County's employment was in agriculture. This number declined to 18% in 1980; 6% in 1990; and to a low of 0.5% in 1998.
The labor surplus caused by the decline in agriculture employment created structural changes that led to a readily available labor supply for the manufacturing industries that were being established in the 1960's.
The County has a diversified and stable economy with strong manufacturing, trade, and service sectors. The products manufactured by local industry have national and international demand.
A second structural change that has taken place in the local economy concerns the growing dominance of service and trade sectors. In 1980, services and trades represented over one third of all employment in the County. By 1990, those sectors had grown to represent almost 60% of all employment. Accordingly, between 1980 and 1990, there was a 130% increase in retails sales and a 26% growth rate for retail establishments. In 2006, the Town of Farmville exceeded $1 billion in retail sales.
The climate in Prince Edward County is characterized by four distinct seasons. Because of its ideal location, the winters are mild and the snows infrequent and of short duration. Summer temperatures are ideal for outdoor activities as the temperature seldom moves above 95 degrees F. There are occasional periods of above and below normal temperatures in the winter and summer.
WFLO Radio Station in Farmville is the weather reporting station for the area, and provides the following statistics:
Annual Average Rainfall: 43 inches
Annual Average Snowfall: 16 inches
Prevailing Winds: Southwest
Annual Average Temperature: 56.5 F
Heating Degree Days: 4545
Cooling Degree Days: 1232