After wrapping our early-summer showings of the exhibit at Parkersburg and Beckley, the traveling exhibit returned to the Byrd Center in Shepherdstown for a few weeks before embarking to Bluefield, located at the southern edge of West Virginia along its border with Virginia. The journey to Bluefield takes one through the picturesque peaks of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges and the city, long-branded as "nature's air conditioned city" is situated in a scenic valley.
European colonists settled in the area of Bluefield in the mid-18th century. The region was the scene of conflict with Native Americans during the French and Indian War. The city began to take shape in the late 19th century as coal seams were opened to mining in the region. As the coal rush grew, the Norfolk and Western Railroad laid out Bluefield as the site of a major yard, which still dominates the center of the city. Incorporated in 1889, Bluefield's prosperity and decline has long echoed that of the rail and coal industries.
Bluefield State College was chartered in 1895 as the "Bluefield Colored Institute" with support from the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, enacted by Congress in 1862 and expanded in 1890. The campus of the historically Black college clings to the hills across the rail yard from downtown Bluefield.
"Robert C. Byrd: Senator, Statesman, West Virginian" is now on display in the Herbert Gallery of the Harris-Jefferson Student Center. The space provides a beautiful setting for the exhibit and will be the location of programs which the campus is planning featuring Senator Byrd's story. We thank everyone at Bluefield State College, and especially Joan Buchanan of the Harris-Jefferson Student Center for coordinating the exhibit's run in Bluefield. The exhibit will be on display until Thursday, September 1, 2016.