A History of Bluefield
Bluefield, Virginia dates to the early 1860’s, when its first post office was Pin Hook. Shortly before 1883, Pin Hook changed to Harman to honor Colonel E. H. Harman, a Confederate war hero. In 1884, Thomas Graham came from Philadelphia to survey for the Norfolk and Western Railroad. Graham purchased a tract of land, laid out a street system, and in his honor the post office became Graham, Virginia.
In a 1924 general election, a majority of sixty-four votes changed the name to Bluefield, the name becoming official on July 12, 1924. To commemorate the event, the wedding of a Virginian to a West Virginian symbolized the unity of the two Bluefields. This ceremony, held at the state line, had an estimated 15,000 witnesses and the governors of Virginia and West Virginia.
Bluefield had an electric car line that connected Graham with the West Virginia side. Appalachian Power Company began construction in 1914 and in 1916 completed the line to Princeton, West Virginia. Run by Tri City Traction Company, the trolley cars stopped on November 22, 1937. Bus lines replaced them.
Some of Graham’s historic structures include the Graham House, the Masonic building and the Lutheran Church. The hotel Graham House, built in 1898, stood in the center of Graham. Still standing is the 1895 Masonic building where New Graham Pharmacy operates on the first floor. Dudley Memorial Mortuary stands on the site of the Lutheran Church. Associated with the church was the Wartburgh Lutheran Seminary, established by J. P. Greever.
Bluefield’s churches share the town’s early history. The Tabernacle Church began in 1885, procuring its land in December 1897; Graham Christian Church, built first in 1891, then moved to Virginia Avenue in 1921; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, founded in 1892, constructed its first building in 1910; and Graham Presbyterian Church organized July 1887 and built in 1888. When it organized in 1900, Memorial Baptist Church began as Graham Baptist, moving into a church donated by First Baptist Church in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1907. First Methodist Church began in 1880, relocated in 1888, suffered a destructive fire in 1855, rebuilt in 1896, and completed yet another building in 1925. Bethel United Methodist Church, begun in 1883, completed its final structure in 1977; in 1908 Virginia Avenue Methodist Church organized, constructed its first church in 1916, and built the present church in1951.
Norfolk and Western Railroad stimulated commercial growth. Near the station located behind the Bluefield Monument Company, the Eclipse Milling Company ground wheat and corn until the 1930’s. In 1891, the Clinch Valley News listed Graham’s new businesses, including Graham Furnace Company, Virginia Lumber Company, the Flour Mill, Graham Publishing Company, and the Graham Land and Investment Company. The railroad era ended on April 4, 1959, when the last passenger train steamed into Norton carrying over 1,000 passengers, 250 of who boarded at Bluefield.
Bluefield is the highest town east of Denver, Colorado and is known as “Virginia’s Tallest Town.”
Submitted by the Tazewell County Bicentennial Committee