The small, fragile settlements along the east coast of North America in the early 1600s initiated "The Great Migration," the historic ever-westward march of humanity that eventually populated this country. Around 1750, the frontier of this migration reached the Allegheny Ridge (or Eastern Continental Divide), which was a difficult barrier to be crossed. The frontier settlement of Draper's Meadow (now Blacksburg) originated on one of the earliest and best routes over the mountainous ridge. The site of the settlement was selected because of the abundance of fertile land and numerous springs, just within the eastern boundary of the great Mississippi River basin.
William Preston surveyed the original settlement, creating 25 to 30 lots, most of which were between 150 and 600 acres. About 20 years later, in 1773, Preston returned an purchased four of those same lots to create his Smithfield Plantation and prosperous land business. Another purchaser, Samuel Black, purchased one lot, on which one of his sons later constructed the square grid of streets now known as "The Old Sixteen Squares."
Many assets of the town's early history, including a large number of old structures, springs and streams, and the layout of the original streets that define the Sixteen Squares, remain as a glimpse into the past. Within those same bounds are the stories of the constant evolution of Blacksburg's history. This evolution has led to a unique sense of place and time in Blacksburg, and it is that sense that we seek to enhance through the programming of the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation.