Remote Southwestern Virginia

On November 25, 2007 · 2 Comments

Recently I posted an entry about a section of Virginia that is further west than any point in West Virginia. It’s an odd fact made quite interesting primarily because the founders of a state carved from an older one consciously chose to highlight the word “west” in describing their creation. At the same time it also points out another situation albeit indirectly, that the far southwestern corner of Virginia is incredibly remote from the remainder of the state. What is sometimes overlooked is that Virginia’s southern border stretches an amazing 430+ miles from False Cape on the Atlantic Ocean all the way westward to the Cumberland Gap where Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky come together at a single point. I’ve often heard that this distant corner of Virginia is closer to eight state capitals than it is to its own capital in Richmond. Let’s find out if that’s true.

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I chose Pennington Gap, the largest town in Lee County that forms the triangle at Virginia’s southwestern corner, as a starting point for this analysis. I could have chosen several places even further west in Lee County but this seemed to be the most significant place of settlement. I then plotted straight lines connecting Pennington Gap to the tip of the Capitol building dome in eight nearby states plus Virginia. The red line to Richmond, capital of Virginia, is definitely the longest of the series and demonstrates the truth behind the old adage for air mileage. The relationship continues to hold for road distance as well, as detailed in the following table:

City By Air By Road
Atlanta, GA 222 305
Charleston, WV 134 189
Columbia, SC 221 278
Columbus, OH 228 293
Frankfort, KY 142 204
Indianapolis, IN 269 361
Nashville, TN 213 271
Raleigh, NC 254 321
Richmond, VA 313 383

So whether traveling by air or by road, the residents of Lee County, Virginia will have to go further to see their state representatives in Richmond than they would if they had been part of eight other nearby states.

On November 25, 2007 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Remote Southwestern Virginia”

  1. How about Cumberland Gap, Virginia, the farthest southwest point in Virginia, closer to NINE state capitals? According to Google Maps, Cumberland Gap, Virginia is 320 air miles/428 road miles to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Cumberland Gap, Virginia is 349 air miles/422 road miles to the State Capitol in Richmond.

    • Fair enough. It’s all a matter of what one selects as the starting point and how one defines state capital (e.g., the nearest border of the city, the Capitol dome or some other marker). I provided one set assumptions above in the post but there are many, many others equally legitimate too, as you’ve noted. When I put this post together I considered Alabama as one of the possibilities but it seemed to have an asterisk next to it under several alternatives while the others were all definitive.

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