Virginia Ghost Towns
Appomattox Court House
The Clover Hill Tavern opened in 1819 on the Richmond-Lynchburg Rd. As the tavern prospered, it expanded. Small farms sprung up around it, making it a small community stop on the road.
When Appomattox County was formed in 1845, Clover Hill became the county seat. As the county seat, it's future seemed secure and a post office was established as well as a courthouse, law offices and other businesses. The name changed to Appomattox Court House. The village was home to about 150 people.
On 9 Apr 1865, the town was a home to the courthouse, a jail, two blacksmiths, two stables, three stores, law offices and several homes. It was Palm Sunday and the courthouse was closed. General Ulysses S Grant and General Robert E Lee were establishing the terms of surrender for the Confederate Army to surrender to the US Army. The location chosen was the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home in the town. This one event permanently established the villages place in history.
After the Civil War ended, the town's prosperity appears to have ended as well. The railroad was located three miles away at a small community named Appomattox Station. Most of the businesses moved to be closer to the railroad.
In 1892, the courthouse burned and the remainder of the town was abandoned. The county seat moved to Appomattox Station, which then dropped "Station" from it's name.
On 18 Jun 1930, the property was purchased by the federal government. On 3 Aug 1935 restoration of the property began. On 6 Apr 1954 the National Historic Park opened with two dozen buildings restored to their appearance on 9 Apr 1865.
Bigler's Mill, also known as Rippon Hall, was located in York County near Williamsburg.
During the Civil War, Bigler's Mill was the site of a field hospital.
During World War II, the US Navy took over much of the north western portion of York County and the residents of Bigler's Mill and nearby Magruder were removed. It was operated as a training site, Camp Peary.
The site is now known as "The Farm", a CIA training facility. The structures are still onsite, but access is restricted. The Bigler's Millpond is also on site adjacent to the York River.
Ca Ira was a small farming community in Cumberland County which was formally established in 1796 by the Virginia General Assembly. The origins of the name are uncertain, but it is believed to have been named after a popular song of the French Revolution.
In 1825, with the completion of the Willis River Canal, the town was opened up to the tobacco trade, as well as having a stagnant pond removed, which alleviated many of the health issues of the residents.
By 1836, the community, now referred to as a "post village" had forty homes, a mill, a tobacco warehouse, two taverns, three stores and a Masonic Hall. In 1843, Grace Church was completed. The church, designed by the architect Dabney Cosby, is still standing today and is listed with it's cemetery, on the National Register of Historic Places.
The church provided a meeting place and on an 1857 report, Bishop William Meade indicates that the church had been in constant use since it's completion. The church building revived the Littleton parish, which surrounded the community was considered inactive in 1813.
In the 1850s, Ca Ira reached its pinnacle when it incorporated a bank. In the years following, the community declined. By 1906, a handful of homes, the church, a post office and two stores survived among the ruins of warehouses and other structures.
In 1928, descendants of the original congregation organized the Ca Ira Restoration Society and blocked the attempt by the diocese to sell the church property. In 1954, a tradition of yearly "homecoming services" were started and are continued today.
Today all that remains of the community of Ca Ira is the church with it's cemetery in back. The cemetery stones have been ravaged by time and are not as readable as they could be. The exact number of burials is unknown and some of the older stones have been replaced.
A portion of Virginia Road 632 where it passes through the long ago community is known as Ca Ira Road.
During World War II, Elko Tract was created as an exact replica of Richmond. The idea was to have a decoy and in the event of an actual German or Japanese bomber siting, the power in Richmond would be turned off and Elko Tract would be lit up, thereby fooling the enemies. However, it was never utilized in this capacity.
After World War II, the land reverted to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Debate occurred over what to do with the property. In 1948, it was decided that a hospital would be built on the property to help overcome the problem of overcrowding. This was the era of segregation and black hospitals were severely overcrowded. Infrastructure projects began, including a water tower and sewage treatment facility. Roadwork was begun, including gutters, curbs and fire hydrants. In 1956, the project was scrapped and the land was left abandoned.
In 1996, the Commonwealth sold the property to raise funds for prison construction. A portion of it is home to semiconductor plant. Today the remainder of the infrastructure is there, but development could limit or end that.
In 2004, the National Guard performed field exercises on part of the property.
In the mid-1800s, iron ore was found in this area and a community called Lignite sprung up. At its peak, it was home to a company store, theatre, churches and other businesses.
When the iron ore boom ended, the community was abandoned in 1890 as people went elsewhere for their livelihoods. Little remains of the community and it is now part of the Jefferson National Forest.