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Perched on the fall line of the Coastal Plain, the City of Emporia has historically been a commercial hub in Southside Virginia. The area along the Meherrin River was first explored in 1670. The Town of Hicksford was settled in 1710 where the Fort Road of eastern Virginia crossed the Meherrin River en route to Fort
Christianna. The Town of Belfield was established in 1798 on the north bank of the river. The two Greensville County towns merged in 1887 to form Emporia, which was chartered as a City in 1967.
Once strategically located on an important north-south Confederate States railroad and supply line, Emporia today has a similar advantage of another transportation crossroads: Interstate 95 and US 58. The City is an ideal stop-over point for thousands of travelers on Interstate 95, as well for those heading to the coast on US 58. Much of the local retail economy is therefore strongly tied to the travel industry. It has recently ranked among the top five cities in the nation for retail sales per capita.
Emporia is also at the crossroads of two key railroads, CSX running north-to-south and Norfolk-Southern going east-to-west. The accessibility to major rail and highway routes contributes to a growing industrial base. The growth of the industrial base in Emporia and surrounding
Greensville County in recent years has helped solidify a low unemployment rate.
Like the rest of Virginia, the City is also rich in history. The recently renovated 1781 Greensville County Courthouse, located in the 300-block of South Main Street is the focal point of downtown Emporia. One block east of South Main Street is Village View (ca. 1795), a federal style home with significance in the War Between the States. Directions to tours of these and other historic sites and markers can be arranged at the Greensville-Emporia Historical Museum at 419 S. Main Street or through the Chamber of Commerce, 326 South Main Street
Emporia is home to several festivals and events that also make it the
cultural hub of the region. Each year the
Meherrin River Arts Council lines
up an impressive list of performers, which in the past has included Ray
Price, Kathy Mattea with the Richmond Symphony, Melissa Manchester, Lou
Rawls, Ronnie Milsap, Diane Schurr, Jack Jones with the Jimmy Dorsey
Orchestra, the Manhattan Transfer, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Shirley
Jones, Johnny Matthis, Roger Williams, the Platters, the Richmond Ballet,
Roy Clark, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme with the Richmond Symphony, and
Crystal Gayle. The 2002 line-up features the Richmond Symphony, the
Oak Ridge Boys, the Lettermen with the Virginia Beach Symphony.
Since 1974, the Virginia Pork Festival has been a major attraction to Emporia. 15,000 people partake in 20 tons of pork served 30 different ways each year on the second Wednesday in June. The
Great Peanut Tour draws 1,500 annually to bike various routes of 13 to 125 miles in length from Thursday through Saturday after Labor Day. The Virginia Peanut Festival draws 12,000 to the City each year during the last weekend in September for the Parade, Fireworks, Car Show, carnival, and craft fair.
The City of Emporia (pop. 5,700) is the southern gateway to Virginia. Just 8 miles from the North
Carolina line, it is the first municipality on I-95 heading into Virginia. Emporia is an hour's drive (65 miles) from
the Capital City of Richmond, three hours' drive (180 miles) from the Nation's Capital, Washington, D.C., and strategically "mid-way between the Big Apple and Disney world."
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