Bastian, Virginia is a town that deserves a great deal of recognition in the History of Bland County. It was originally called Parkersburg after Parker Hornbarger, who inherited most of the land the town was built on. Jack Hager also owned some of the land, one hundred and fifty acres to be exact. Much of the land was later owned by James Starks and Eli Leedy until the Virginia Hardwood Lumber Company opened a large mill which operated on it for many years. The name "Bastian" came from the manager of Bland County's only railroad, F.E. Bastian. Wallace J. Bruce took responsibility for the town's water supply and for the development of the town.
Until 1923, the town did not have a school with more than one room. Schools up the "Hunting Camp Creek" way accommodated local students until then. With the location of the Virginia Hardwood Lumber Company in 1927, the population increased. This increase made additional classrooms a necessity. Several small schools were built during this time. It was not until 1955, however, that a modern brick building was built at the cost of $112,215.79.
The town has been home to many business and industries over the years. The W.F. White Lumber Company, the G.W. Miller Mining Planing Mill, the Virginia Hardwood Lumber Company, the Canva Mining Company (manganese), and the C&A Lumber Company have all operated in the town. Today General Injectibles Vaccines a wholesale pharmaceuticals is one of the major employers. In the 1930's, Bastian was also home to one of the most distinguished CCC Camps of the New Deal and thousands of young men passed through its doors.
As the lumber industry grew, new methods of transporting the materials were needed. In 1912, the New River, Holston, and Western Railroad company built a railroad to Rocky Gap, Virginia. In 1914, Mr. W.E. Mingea Jr. of Abingdon, Virginia, who owned all the big survey in Bland County, decided to build the railroad through Bastian to Suiter. The train ran from Narrows, Virginia, up through Niday and Round Bottom, to Rocky Gap. It continued from there to Hicksville, Bastian, and Suiter. This train served many purposes, including transporting people until it was discontinued in 1946.
Around the 1930's, Bastian became the first town in Bland County to use electricity. They received it from the generator of the Virginia Hardwood Lumber Co. Since their generator generated so much electricity, there was enough to run both the company and the town!
Unfortunately, by 1950 the CCC Camp, Virginia Hardwood, and the railroad had all closed down. Slowly Bastian is beginning to attract new business. The beautiful scenery and the warmth of its people have always stayed the same.
Rich with culture, Bastian, Virginia is a wonderfully small town with a colorful background. The people of Bland County should be proud that a town with so much warmth and appeal is contained within the boundaries of their county.
|Steve Black (RGHS 1997)
copyright©bland county history archives all rights reserved 2000