Midlothian Real Estate

    Mid-Lothian, as the Chesterfield County area was once known, was a coal mining village – excavation stretched from about 1730 to 1923, with commercial mining reaching its peak in the 1800s. By the start of that century, coal vehicles were leaving heavy ruts in the dirt road that led to the docks in Manchester, about 13 miles away on the James River in what is now South Richmond.

     What had once been an Indian trail – and what was known later as Buckingham Turnpike – was handling more traffic than it could stand. The rutted roads were tough for coal deliveries and almost unbearable for those in carriages and coaches.

    No one “could dispute that the heavy coal carts were creating an intolerable condition for all travelers using the well traveled Buckingham road,” Francis Earle Lutz wrote in his seminal history of Chesterfield, published in 1954.

    So in 1802, some mine owners and investors petitioned the state for a charter to form the Manchester Turnpike Co. and allow construction of a toll road. The legislative act, as Lutz wrote, called for a road at least 30 feet wide, which would generally follow the Buckingham route from the Manchester docks to the Falling Creek bridge near modern Midlothian.

    The investors targeted the latest road-building technology: macadam. Named after the Scottish engineer who originated it, the technique involved placing and compressing layers of crushed stone, topped by a layer of sand. With its completion, the turnpike earned the distinction of being the first “paved” highway in Virginia.

    In the 20th century, coal mining declined. The area became less populated, remaining largely wooded with farms scattered along mostly rural and dirt roads. Gradually, post-war construction of the highway network and the growth of metropolitan Richmond brought subdivision residential development. When the Swift Creek Reservoir was created, the availability of water and sewer service accelerated residential growth. The expansion of the area assigned to the Midlothian post office caused a much larger area to be considered “Midlothian” than the village along the turnpike, now designated U.S. Route 60. In 1988, an extension of the Powhite Parkway and widening of Midlothian Turnpike and Hull Street Road (U.S. Route 360) provided much-needed highway infrastructure. The area continued to attract new residents as forests were cleared for the development of subdivisions.