Bedford is a town and former independent city in the county of the same name in Central Virginia of the Southern United States of America. With an estimated population of 6,585 as of 2018, the town – which is the county seat of Bedford County – is part of the Lynchburg Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town, despite its seemingly unremarkable size, is home to a plethora of historical sites, notably those devoted to the World War II history of the citizens in the town.
Bedford is known as "the place that sells itself," boasting multiple cultural and natural sites in the immediate vicinity, including the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north, with the Peaks of Otter overlooking the town. Smith Mountain Lake, a reservoir and the largest lake fully in Virginia, is roughly 14 miles (25 km) to the south, and boasts a variety of fishing activities and water sports.
Lynchburg, Virginia, a city of 75,000, sits 18.6 miles (30 km) to the east of Bedford and is the center of the fifth largest metropolitan area in the state. Meanwhile, the larger independent city of Roanoke is 20 miles (32 km) to the southwest of Bedford with a population of 97,000. While these cities provide a variety of historical landmarks dating back to the beginnings of Colonial America, Bedford certainly isn't to be missed out on if one is visiting the area in and around Virginia.
Climate and location
Bedford is an incorporated town and former independent city n Bedford County in the U.S. Southern state of Virginia. It serves as the county seat of Bedford County. The estimated 2018 population was 6,585, the city's historical peak. Bedford is well within the Lynchburg Metropolitan Statistical area, the 5th largest in the state at a population of 260,320. Lynchburg proper is a 30- to 45-minute drive from 18.6 miles (30 km) to the east, while the larger Virginian city of Roanoke – the center of the 4th largest metropolitan area in the state – is located 21.7 miles (35 km), or a 40-minute drive, from the west. Bedford has an area of 8.74 square miles (22.64 square km), 0.03 (0.07) of which are water.
Bedford is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a part of the larger Appalachian Mountains, that runs from northern Georgia to southern Pennsylvania. The mountains are given a seemingly blue-green color from the trees releasing great amounts of isoprene into the atmosphere. Bedford sits at the bottom of the Peaks of Otter, three granite mountain peaks – Harkening Hill, Sharp Top, and Flat Top – overlooking the town, sitting at 3,372 feet (1,028 m); 3,875 feet (1,181 m); and 4,001 feet (1,220 m), respectively.
The climate of Bedford is humid subtropical, characterized by mild to slightly below freezing temperatures in winter while warm to fairly hot temperatures are present in the summer.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Bedford was founded as Liberty, named after the Patriot victory over Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown on Virginia's Atlantic Coast. Founded as a village in 1782, Liberty became Bedford County's seat of government, replacing New London which had become part of the newly formed Campbell County. Liberty became a town in 1839 and in 1890 changed its name to Bedford City. In 1912, Bedford reverted to town status, but returned to independent city status in 1968. On September 14, 2011, the Bedford City Council voted to transition into a town, ending status as an independent city – a unique administrative division in the USA almost exclusively found in Virginia. The supervisors of Bedford County also voted to accept the town of Bedford as part of the county when it lost city status. The transition occurred on July 1, 2013.
Bedford, despite its seemingly insignificantly small population and size, played a major role in World War II. Though only 19 soldiers were killed on D-Day with another three dying later in the Normandy campaign, the losses made Bedford, with only 3,200 inhabitants in 1944, the town that proportionally suffered the greatest losses of any American city from D-Day. In response to the veterans from Bedford, the National D-Day Memorial was constructed in the 1990s to honor the 4,413 American soldiers who died at D-Day. President Bill Clinton authorized the memorial to be the country's official D-Day Memorial in September 1996 and it was officially dedicated by President George W. Bush 5 years later on June 6, 2001. 60,000 tourists visit the memorial each year, over half of whom from outside of Virginia.
Bedford was the retirement home for Franklin Wellington Caulkins, a major architect in Buffalo, New York, from 1930 up until his death on January 9, 1940 at age 84. Lawrence Cleveland Chambers was born in the town and was both the first African American to operate a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and the first graduate of the Naval Academy to be awarded Flag Rank.
Bedford has a shared a friendship treaty with Ivybridge in Devon, England, United Kingdom since 2004, both of which sharing similar populations. Bedford also shares relationships with 11 communities of Normandy, France, largely relating to Bedford's role in the Invasion of Normandy. Notably, the city of Trévières sent an identical replica of its World War I memorial statue to Bedford which is now located on the grounds of the National D-Day Memorial, sharing the exact same details as the original – including the artillery fire from U.S. forces retaking the region.
While Bedford used to be heavily connected to the rest of the East Coast and South by Norfolk and Western Railway until 1971 and Amtrak from 1975 to 1979, today it is reachable only by car, and the previous station was abandoned and renovated into a restaurant.
1 Bedford Tourism and Welcome Center, 816 Burks Hill Road (Car: 3-minute drive or 20+minute walk from town center; 36-minute drive from Lynchburg; 39-minute drive from Roanoke), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Open everyday, 9AM to 5PM. A great jumping off point for visitors.
Airports are easily accessible by both car and, if one so desires, by Amtrak lines. One can either fly regionally from airports in Lynchburg or Roanoke, or can take the Crescent and Northeast Regional Amtrak lines to major airports along the East Coast for international flights. Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH IATA, also known as Preston Glenn Field) is a 22-minute, 19.2-mile (30.9-km) drive to/from Bedford while Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA IATA) is a 40-minute, 31.3-mile (50.4-km) drive. Both airports offer regional flights to larger airports in the Mid-Atlantic and South allowing connections to airports around the country.
It's likely the only way you'll be able to enter Bedford is via car, as with a vast majority of other American towns. U.S. Route 221, running 150 miles (240 km) from Independence near the state border with North Carolina to Lynchburg, runs directly through the town east-to-west. The highway is known as North Bridge Street and West Main Street in the town center and as Blue Ridge Avenue from Crenshaw Avenue to the highway joining with U.S. Route 460 at the town's western end. U.S. Route 460 runs for 406 miles (654 km in the state, including in the southern part of Bedford, from the capital city of Kentucky – Frankfort – to Norfolk, the second-largest city in Virginia. Smaller routes in and out of Bedford include State Routes 43, 122, 714, and 718.
As with every American city, car rentals abound. Dozens have locations in both Lynchburg and Roanoke, while there is also an Enterprise Rent-a-Car in the town. Lynchburg to the east and Roanoke to the west are 30- to 45-minute drives and 30 to 32 km (18 to 20 miles) to and from Bedford.
The suburban sprawl, a main characteristic of American towns, present in Bedford means you will most definitely require a car if you wish to visit the plethora of sites in the area. With a car, you can easily travel around the town in less than 10 minutes and to nearby cities and towns in no less than an hour. You can still walk from one side of the town to another in around an hour if you so desire. The walk still offers beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains that Bedford is nestled in and streets surrounded by the red-brick architecture and historical buildings dating back to Colonial America.
- 1 Avenel House, 413 Avenel Avenue (2-minute drive or 7-minute walk from town center; 37-minute drive from Lynchburg; 39-minute drive from Roanoke), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. For over 175 years, Avenel has served as Bedford's centerpiece for cultural, political, and social activity. It was built in 1838 by William M. and Frances Steptoe Burwell. His entire family later moved into the house, which was later purchased in 1906 by J.W. Ballard. The house has a simultaneous atmosphere of 1800s American architecture and the Greek Revival architecture of that time. Today, a plethora of historical furniture pieces, paintings, and other details are present here. While group tours are offered, vibrant corporate events and wedding venues are also held here.
- 2 Bedford Boys Tribute Center, 102 North Bridge Street (At town center; 32-minute drive from Lynchburg; 38-minute drive from Roanoke.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 9AM to 5PM; Su noon to 5PM. The Bedford Boys Tribute Center serves as a memorial to the "Bedford Boys" – the 22 men killed in D-Day and the Invasion of Normandy – and a glimpse into the historical pieces of World War II. Bedford suffered the heaviest per-capita losses of any American settlement from D-Day, the center pays tribute to the sacrifices of the Bedford Boys, displaying multiple pieces of clothing, diary entries, guns, and a variety of World War II-era cultural artifacts immersing you in the small but fascinating details of the town's history. $6 for general admission; $5 for seniors, veterans, and active military members; $3 for students; free for residents of Bedford County, relatives of the Bedford Boys, and children under 12.
- 3 Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library, 201 East Main Street (At town center; 35-minute drive from Lynchburg; 38-minute drive from Roanoke), ☏ , ✉ bccm-info@BedfordVAMuseum.org. M-Sa 10AM to 5PM; closed Sunday and National Holidays. The Bedford Museum provides detailed glimpses into the past of the region, ranging from Native American culture to the American Civil War. The Genealogical Library holds 1,600 books and a further 1,000 files on Bedford families' names and history, along with historical artifacts from a variety of groups. Three floors of exhibits feature information on Native Americans, African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement, World War I and II, the Cold War (including the Korean and Vietnam Wars), Operation Enduring Freedom, the Civil War, and the American Revolution, along with annual events including the Train Layout, Fridays at the Museum, and the Women's History Month Essay Contest, all dedicated for children. Free and open to public, though a $5 donation is recommended for each adult.
- 4 National D-Day Memorial, 3 Overlord Circle (5- to 10-minute drive or 30-minute walk to town center; 30- to 40-minute drive to Lynchburg and Roanoke.), ☏ . Open everyday, 10AM to 5PM. The National D-Day Memorial is the official national D-Day war memorial, opened on June 6, 2001 with then-president George W. Bush present alongside 15,000 other people. It states that the memorial's purpose is "In Tribute to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of Allied Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944", honoring the 4,414 Allied soldiers who died in the invasion out of 150,000 servicemen from 12 countries. Overlord Arch is the signature feature of the monument with flags of the Allies overlooking incredibly detailed sculptures of soldiers in a pond. Many times through the year, events ranging from reenactments of the war to a religious mass are held throughout the year.
- 5 The Bedford Columns, 812 East Main Street (3-minute drive or 11-minute walk from town center; 34-minute drive from Lynchburg; 41-minute drive from Roanoke), ☏ , ✉ info@TheBedfordColumns.com. An elegant historic estate centered on peaceful streets, the Bedford Columns are an iconic conference center and wedding venue, with stunningly beautiful gardens enhancing the already modern decor. The outdoor ceremony area is complemented by exquisite furnishings that are ideal for weddings, all with the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking it all. The estate date backs to 1848, where it was first used as a college preparatory school and later a Confederate hospital. For years after, the estate was a symbol of the wealth of Bedford, until it was converted into a wedding venue. Today, it still features elegant and historical experiences.
- 6 Peaks of Otter. The Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, overlooking the town of Bedford, Virginia. Within the three peaks is a little over 12 miles of hiking. Johnson Farm is a historically restored site along one of the side trails towards Harkening Hill, it is an interactive, still functioning farm building from the early 1900s. On the summit of the far side of the main peak; Sharp Top, there is a famed crash site of a World War II B-25 bomber. Manmade Abbott Lake lies in the valley between the three peaks, behind the Peaks of Otter Lodge and restaurant. The National Park Service preserves the peaks and lake as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- 1 Liberty Station, 515 Bedford Ave, ☏ . Restored train station serving American comfort fare & cheesecake amid nostalgic terminal décor.
- 1 The Forget-Me-Not, 733 Peaks St, ☏ . Country B&B whose single suite offers a private entrance, en suite bath, breakfast room & free Wi-Fi. $125 (discounts for veterans, active duty & reservist military, and seniors).
- 2 Super 8, 842 Sword Beach Ln, ☏ . $68.
- 3 Vanquility Acres Inn, 105 Angus Terrace, ☏ . $85-$250.
- 4 Peaks of Otter Lodge, 85554 Blue Ridge Pkwy, ☏ . $129.
|Routes through Bedford|
|END ← Lynchburg ←||N S||→ Roanoke → Jct N S|
|Princeton ← Roanoke ←||W E||→ Lynchburg → Petersburg|