Virginia Board of Public Works

Virginia Board Of Public Works

Virginia Board of Public Works

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The Virginia Board of Public Works was a governmental agency which oversaw and helped finance the development of Virginia's internal transportation improvements during the 19th century. In that era, it was customary to invest public funds in private companies, which were the forerunners of the public service and utility companies of modern times. The state often invested in up to 40% of the stock to build turnpikes, toll bridges, canals, and water and rail transportation enterprises.

Claudius Crozet: Virginia's State Engineer

Claudius Crozet (1789–1864) a civil engineer and educator who helped found Virginia Military Institute (VMI) was Principal Engineer and later Chief Engineer of the Board of Public Works. He was involved with the planning and construction of many of the canals, turnpikes, bridges and railroads in Virginia, including the area which is now West Virginia. Of the many people who help build Virginia's transportation infrastructure, Crozet is one of the better-known individuals. His work in the antebellum period was exceptionally well-documented.

Massive state debt

In 1861, with the onset of the American Civil War, Virginia's investments in "Public Works" was interrupted. The State had purchased a total of $48,000,000 worth of stock in turnpike, toll bridge, canal, and water and rail transportation enterprises.

After the War, many of the improvements had been destroyed but the debt remained to be paid. This state debt became a major issue...
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