The area known as the Gladstone Community is in the southern tip of Nelson County lying along the James River. The community began as a stop on a stage coach road passing through the area, later followed by canal packet boat transportation along the river. When the railroad was developed, the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad Company took over the canal company about 1878 and constructed the railroad along the old roadbed. The C&O Railroad Yard was construction in 1888 and marks the division between Clifton Forge and Richmond becoming a major employer in the area with a depot and a YMCA building and hotel. The village flourished with churches, post office, schools and stores for many years until the C&O no longer used Gladstone as an active rail yard.
The first post office was known as Horsley’s Landing and was changed to Gladstone in 1881. The name was suggested by George E. Caskie, a prominent Lynchburg lawyer, whose birthplace was in Nelson County, in honor William E. Gladstone, the noted English statesman.