Burke's Garden, Virginia

Burke's Garden, Virginia

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Burke's Garden, Virginia

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Burke's Garden — or Burke Garden — is an upland valley and small community in Tazewell County, Virginia, USA.


The oval, bowl-like valley (or "cove") is known for its fertile land and was once the bed of an ancient sea. About 8.5 miles long and 4 miles wide, it resembles a large volcanic crater in satellite photographs and on topographic maps; however, it was actually formed when underground limestone caverns collapsed. The valley is the highest in Virginia at 3,000 feet above sea level and is completely surrounded by Garden Mountain.


Burke's Garden was first surveyed in 1748 by a team of surveyor working for local landowner James Patton. One of the party, James Burke, is said to have thrown away some potato peelings while cooking. A year later, when the party returned to the area, they found potatoes growing in the area where the peels had been left. The area was dubbed Burke's Garden as something of a joke, but the name stuck.

The area has remained isolated throughout its history. In the late 19th century, agents for the Vanderbilt family contacted local farmers about selling land so that the family could build a large estate there. Nobody wanted to sell, and the Vanderbilts instead constructed the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, North Carolina. In the 1990s, a small number of Amish families moved to Burke's Garden but later moved out after being unable to purchase enough land and attract enough other Amish families to form a viable...
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