Nestled at the foot of the 3,400-foot East River Mountain, Bluefield is the most elevated town in West Virginia, at 2,655 feet above sea level. The town is sometimes called "Summit City", because of its high altitude, and "Nature's Air-Conditioned City" for its pleasant summer temperatures. Since 1941, the Chamber of Commerce's "Lemonade Lassies" have passed out free lemonade on days when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. The airport thermometer is used to determine this, which is at the highest point in Bluefield. It can often exceed 90 in downtown Bluefield during the summer.
The area was first settled in the 1780s and incorporated in 1889. Named for the blue chicory fields in the area, Bluefield was a booming Norfolk and Western Railroad hub for the coal industry until the decline of coal in the 1960s. Today the city has an air of faded 1950s glory; some of the lovely homes have seen better days, the downtown is largely deserted, and passenger railways have given way to freight cars. Happily, the city is beginning to embark on an aggressive revitalization scheme, by restoring old buildings, attracting specialty shops and restaurants back to downtown, and focusing on tourism as a promising source of revenue. The town still retains its small-town Appalachian charm, with friendly people, beautiful scenery, and very low housing costs.
One of the best-known local residents is John Forbes Nash, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics and the subject of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. The town has yet to capitalize on this connection, however, so if you're a big fan of the man or the movie, you won't find a lot of related activities or sights in the area. Nash's boyhood home is currently undergoing renovation, and will likely be a listed historic site in the near future.
is about 15 minutes northwest on US-52. It was once home to millionaires and is now home to Pinnacle Rock State Park.
is about 10 minutes northeast on US-460. It's the county seat, and a good access point for Pipestem State Park and the Bluestone National Scenic River.
is about 1 hour northwest on US-52. It's a traditional mining town in the heart of coal country, although the decline of the industry has hit the town hard.
Virginia is about 45 minutes south on I-77.
is about 1 hour north on I-77. Winterplace Ski Resort, in nearby Flat Top, offers skiing, snow tubing and snowboarding trails.
Virginia is a little over 1 hour east on US-460. It's home to the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Virginia is about 1.5 hours west on US-460.
is about 2.5 hours west on US-52. Birthplace of the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
capital city of state of West Virginia, United States; county seat of Kanawha County, West Virginia
county seat of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, United States
city in the U.S. state of West Virginia
city in Forsyth County, North Carolina
city in Montgomery County, Kentucky
city in Virginia, United States