Thursday, October 26, 2006

Weekend Five: Blacksburg

New cadets of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
(Photo from Virginia Tech's Campus Snapshot Gallery)

As I sit writing this entry on Thursday evening, it is halftime in the Virginia Tech/Clemson game and ol' Polytechnic is up 10 - 7. Therefore, all things being equal, I figured that Tech warranted some attention. Even though I got my MA at ol' Virginny. UVA. Which is "grape" in Spanish.

1. VT Underground: This guy is awesome. During his tenure in Blacksburg, he systematically explored half the places in said city that, frankly, he wasn't supposed to. Primarily, though by no means exclusively, this means steam tunnels. Now, he gives warning that no one should attempt to duplicate his feats (and I quote, "DO NOT ENTER THE VIRGINIA TECH STEAM TUNNELS! Every few weeks I hear about yet another person or group who got injured or caught while exploring the tunnels. Tech has been cracking down on tunneling... they've locked up some of the best exits, and if you're spotted entering the tunnels the police will come in after you. Don't say I didn't warn you."), but if you were to, which we here at the HS simply cannot condone or anything, but if you were, wow, this is the site to learn how to do it. Of course, for urban explorer posers (e.g. yours truly), this site is a slice of heaven. If you're interested in other towns, specifically Radford and Charlottesville, you'll want to check this place out too - yeah. That.

2. Blacksburg's Bicentennial: 1798-1998: Like so many things in the glorious Commonwealth of Virginia, Blacksburg is "old." Not China old or Babylon old or Egypt old or India old, or even Europe old. But North America (north of the Rio Grande) old? Oh yeah.
Okay okay. Sure. 1998 was like, eight years ago. Whatever. Who cares? This site, a product of Virginia Tech's Special Collections, is still absolutely rock-solid. There are tons of pictures here, a plethora of fantastic maps, a complete written history, even a review of the area's archaeological jonx. Trust me, its worth an hour or two.

3. Smithfield Plantation: There are quite a few plantations in Virginia open to tourists and my Mom and Dad used to drive my little bro' and I through them pretty much constantly - I still find it interesting that Americans adapted the feudal estate (in a substantially different form, of course) to be the primary means of conquering the Southern expanses of the continent. But I digress.
I had no idea that western Virginia had any such entity - until I started this blog entry. That's when I found this place. I mean, read this byline:

On the eve of the American Revolution, the Virginia backcountry was a place of colliding cultures, clashing ideals, and physical danger. Wolves howled at night; panthers roamed the forest. Europeans and native Shawnee and Cherokee vied for the same fertile farmlands, often erupting into murderous violence.

Color me excited.

4. Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center: Another place I have never been and simply can't believe it - the Montgomery Museum is a historical and arts center focused on Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County, Virginia. The permanent exhibits completely rock, and the special exhibits tantalize. I will be visiting soon, if for no other reason than to learn more about the Christiansburg Industrial Institute.

Oh, and be sure not to miss this crazy awesome map - I am fascinated by the evolution of Virginia's counties - I know. I'm a nerd.

5. What is a Hokie?: Not so long ago I wrote a brief entry on how some of the region's universities chose their school colors (intriguingly, its one of our most commonly viewed entries from search engines), and this site was one of those I linked to. If you want some obscure data on a school whose symbolic representations just flat out need some explanation, well, this is the jonx. I mean, how can you beat this:

Since the university had a new name and a new yell, new college colors seemed to be a desirable next step. During 1896, a committee was formed to find a suitable combination of colors to replace the original colors of black and gray, which appeared in stripes on hats, books, athletic uniforms, and other paraphernalia and presented an image resembling prison uniforms.

So great.

Oh, and Tech beat Clemson. Ah, the purple pants, the purple pants.

This one, by the way, is for Poopie.

1 comment:

J. Michael Mason said...

I visit the grounds of Smithfield weekly. The pastures that surround the estate (i.e. VT's corn field and cross-country course) have become the unofficial dog park for Blacksburg. When the weather is nice, you can sometimes find 20 dogs running around in packs, chasing sticks and getting wet in Stroubles Creek.
VT doesn't seem to have a problem with us dog owners using their grounds so long as we don't leave any doggielogs for the Cross Country team to step in.

Each year the Plantation lets a married couple live in the house for free. They just have to dress in period clothes and play Colonial House for tourists.