Original Name: Central Depot, Central City
Radford City Visitors Center at Glencoe
The New River has played a key role in the development of Radford, first as a village and hunting ground for the Indians and later as a jumping off point in the westward movement as the first white settlers-the Germans, the Scots and the Irish-came looking for affordable and livable land. The earliest inhabitants of the Valley were American Indians, members of the Powhatan, Shawnee and Cherokee tribes. In 1975, during the construction of Bisset Park a major Indian village that prospered approximately 350-500 years ago was unearthed.
The first recorded exploration of the New River Valley was in 1654 by Colonel Abram Wood whose expedition followed the Little River to its confluence with a major river, originally named for Colonel Wood but renamed the New River in the early 1700's.
In the 1740's German settlers, who had immigrated to the New World for religious freedom, established the first permanent settlements in the New River Valley at Dunkards Bottom (which now lies under Claytor Lake) and at Draper's Meadow near present-day Blacksburg. The arrival of English and Scotch-Irish settlers brought about a series of Indian wars which culminated in the Draper's Meadow Massacre in 1755 by the Shawnee Indians under the direction of chieftain Black Fish and the war chief Wild Horse. It was during this massacre that a young pioneer woman named Mary Draper Ingles was taken captive. Her courageous story has been told through numerous books and a couple of movies and for almost 30 years was the subject of Radford Citys outdoor drama The Long Way Home.
Since the New River Valley was bisected by a buffalo trail, it was only natural that this trail gradually evolved into a roadway for early settlers which ultimately extended westward through southwest Virginia and on to the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. Known as the Wilderness Road or the Stagecoach Road, it eventually became the Valley Pike which today is part of the historical Newbern section of Pulaski County.
It was at the New River crossing of the Wilderness Road (Rock Road in present day Radford) that William Ingles and his wife, Mary, established Ingles Ferry in 1762. This Ferry became the nucleus for the development of a commercial center. In 1796, development continued when John Haven established Lovely Mount Tavern, which had a stable with forty stalls, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a tavern.
In 1836 a post office was established. In 1837 the post office was moved to Ingles Ferry and then back to Lovely Mount Tavern in 1849 where it remained until it was moved to Central in 1885.