Virginia's Independent Cities

Blog Post created by bejacob on Aug 1, 2014

My most recent journey on my ongoing quest to visit every county seat in the United States covered much of southern Virginia as well as a few counties in north central North Carolina.


Unlike most of my trips this year, which have lasted about 5 days, this foray only involved 3 days on the road. With a compressed schedule and an aggressive agenda, I had less time to explore the interesting history that abounds in the area.


Below are my before and after maps showing the area I covered. As a reminder for anyone what has forgotten what the colors mean, cyan is for counties I have been in, green is for counties where I have visited the county seat but not yet collected, and blue is for collected counties. To collect a county I must mail (and receive) a postcard from the county seat.


NCVA.png     NCVA2.png


One thing that makes Virginia different from most states is that in addition to the 95 counties, there 38 independent cities which function separately from any county to which they may be adjacent or in some cases surrounded by. In order to make my travels complete, I decided (several years ago) to visit each of these independent cities as if they were county seats. Ironically, 13 of the 38 actually serve as county seats, so I've already committed to mailing a postcard from these 13 cities meaning I just need to include the other 25. Slightly complicated, I know, but an important consideration when planning my travels. Incidentally, most of the remaining independent cities I need to visit are in the Washington, D.C. area.


Despite driving near several Civil War sites (Appomattox, Petersburg Battlefield), I did not stop to do anything other than mail postcards and photograph courthouses. I can imagine visiting this area to explore many of these places, but this was not such a trip.


I do however have one humorous anecdote to share. On the final day of my journey, I realized I had broken one of iahflyr's travel rules: “Don’t leave NC (and I’ll add VA) without stopping for some local BBQ.” I was on my way between the Virginia towns of Fincastle and Salem and found a place (Three Li’l Pigs) along US 220 just off of I-81 so I stopped for lunch. Along with my sandwich, I had a local beer (Devils Backbone Vienna Lager ). About 15 minutes later, I noticed the sign for the town of Fincastle, the county seat for Botetourt County. I was thinking back to how good lunch was and that I would have to mention it in my blog when I realized I was out in the country driving down US 220. Somehow, I completely missed the town. I made a U-turn and discovered Fincastle was about 4 miles ahead. I vowed then not to have even one beer at lunch while county collecting (I'll save that for dinner after I'm safely ensconced in a Marriott property for the night).


Speaking of Marriott properties, my stays included FFI Hopewell, VA and SHS Lynchburg, VA. There isn't much to say about either one. Both were comfortable. Both thanked me for being a Platinum Elite. The room at the SHS was a bit nicer, as was the immediate area, but both are decent representations of their respective brands. One particularly nice fact about the SHS was that breakfast was available by 5:00 even though the scheduled time was 6:00 to 10:00. I had a long day of driving to get home, so getting an early start was wonderful. I noticed several other folks eating at 5:30 who appeared to have the same thought.


Overall, I had a good trip and covered a lot of territory. As you can see from my maps, Virginia is now nearly complete. Only three area remain: northern VA (which I will visit in late September and early November), the eastern shore and Virginia Beach (also on tap for November in conjunction with a stay at CY Ocean City, MD), and a few counties near the Tennessee border (tentatively planned for Spring or Summer 2015 on a trip that could also knock out the remaining western NC counties).


Next up is a trip to madmax country in mid-August.


Until then…


Happy Travels