Political & Social Motivations
The foundation stones of a new County in Virginia were laid in 1880 as a direct result of the inhabitants in the area demanding they get a county government that keeps their best interests at heart. As history would have it, William J. Dickinson, a General Assembly delegate at the time, was successful in pushing for the passing of a bill in the House of Delegates for the formation of a new county by etching out areas from pre-existing Wise, Russell and Buchanan counties. It is for this reason that the newly formed county, the 100th county of Virginia got the name – Dickinson County.
Interestingly though, the rough and rocky terrains had a positive impact on the development of the area that became Dickinson county. The areas along the stream beds provided the earliest settlers with lands fertile for growing crops. Plus, the streams themselves were a easy and pure source of consumable water. As such, the pioneers to have settled in the area included the likes of Holly Creek, Sandlick and Nora. All these communities flourished along the stream beds.
The settlement trend in Southwest Virginia began almost 200 years back, when whole flocks of farmer families moved from the Atlantic coast and began taking up key fertile strips across the Appalachian valley. Genealogical records suggest that most of these early settlers who made this valley their home were of Scottish or Irish origins. Plus, given the resources on offer, agriculture became the dominant profession in the region.
The over-reliance of Dickinson County on agriculture can be understood from the fact that up until the 1930s, more than half the county’s land continued to be employed for agricultural practices, despite the spread of industrialization across Virginia. Apart from this, timber and coal were other natural resources that began to see an increase in the region, but they could not be exploited to the maximum owing to the absence of proper transportation facilities to traverse the rugged terrain.
Furthermore, the lack of connectivity also meant that the county couldn’t sell its agricultural produce outside the region. This meant that the farms played more of a self-sustenance role, despite their ability to produce much more.
Rise, Fall And Rise Again
That all changed in 1915, when a rail-line opened into the county courtesy of the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway. This meant that for the first time, Dickenson County became accessible to the eastern markets in the country. Also, the opening of the rail line allowed those companies who had purchased mineral rights back in the late 1880s could now move in and finally exploit the natural resources of the county for economic gains.
As a result, Dickinson County saw a surge in its population between 1910-1920 to the tune of 47% if one were to believe the census records at the time. This upward human and economic trend continued for the next couple of decades. And then came the lull. By the 1950’s coal mining companies began automating much of the processes. A decade later, the lumber industry too started seeing a slump as much of the timber supply in the region had been exhausted.
However, Dickinson County has taken a major decision that could change the course of its destiny for years to come. Instead of trying to push for conventional job production in the area, it will now look to create a technology-savvy work force. In that regards, DCWIN, its very own wireless internet company could be the first step to bringing about a job revolution that focuses on technology-based jobs. The county officials are confident that in the years to come, Dickinson county could become an integral part of the global connected economy.