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The Commonwealth of Virginia

In 1999 I visited Virginia for the first time since 1981. Heading to D.C. from the Midwest, I was under the impression that much of the landscape of the East Coast was now just one massive metropolitan area from Boston to D.C..

I’m still a little embarrassed by my twenty-something self, but while I wasn’t expecting skyscrapers as far as the eye could see, I did not expect the ruralness that was western and souther Virginia.  I hate to make assumption, but I’d be willing to bet many folks who have not been to or ventured outside of the I-95 corridor or the Beltway would have similar thoughts about this state.

With the western portion of Virginia in the mountainous region of Appalachia, it is a different type of rural than what is typically addressed when I talk about rural agricultural areas, but the southern part of the state fits that template and it is seeing declines. A recent study from the University of Virginia projected that all of the southern counties, with exception to a few costal counties, in the state will see population declines between 2020 & 2040. Some as high as 22%, like Grayson County which is at population levels it hasn’t seen since the 1890s.  

Like some many rural places, the positives are attractive; open spaces with less crowding, clean air, stunning views, but economic opportunities, adequate health care and education, or even high-speed internet are hurdles that are hard to over come. 

With small counties like Highland, that has just over 2,600 people, losing people each years seems par for the course, but even Buchanan County, which as recently as 1980 had 38,000 residents, can’t stop the exodus. It has averaged over a 10% decline each decade since then and could fall to 20,000 by 2025.

Images from Virginia

Posts about Virginia

Population Decline; The Hardest Hit Counties In Each State Since 1990

Since 1990 These Counties Are The Hardest Hit By Population Decline In Their State The 1990s are a significant time for Lost Americana, which goes beyond the fact that during that decade
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Lost Americana is about telling the stories of the people who live in rural America.

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