On October 6, the sixth annual High Bridge Half-Marathon and 5K will take place along the beloved High Bridge Trail in Downtown Farmville. Residents already know High Bridge Trail as a beautiful state park and a popular spot to spend time with friends and take in nature; however, the trail’s history makes it an excellent location for the race.
The record-setting bridge induces a sense of awe in those who see it. Visit Farmville notes that “more than 2,400 feet long, rising 125 feet above the Appomattox River, the majestic High Bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the longest in the nation.” Between the actual bridge’s expansive nature and the trail’s total length of 31 miles, participants in the upcoming race will enjoy a myriad of beautiful views.
Although the natural beauty of the spot makes High Bridge Trail a great location for the race, the history behind the spot adds to its significance. High Bridge, formerly a railroad bridge for steam trains, proved a pivotal spot in the American Civil War as troops met in Farmville and battled for control over the structure. The American Battlefield Trust notes that Battle of High Bridge occurred from April 6-7, 1865 as Confederate troops sought food and other supplies in Farmville. The battle consisted of several attempts by the Union Army to capture the bridge and thwart the Confederates’ progress: “Fighting desperately, Confederate reinforcements managed to clear the bridge and capture nearly 800 Federal defenders. However, on April 7, fresh Union troops attacked and drove the Confederates out of their positions before the bridge could be destroyed” (American Battlefield Trust). While this battle may appear to be a small conflict in the grand scheme of the Civil War, the battle for control of it [High Bridge] was a contributing factor to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in nearby Appomattox Courthouse.
Though the events of the Civil War remain a distant memory, the role of High Bridge in the conflict is interesting and close to home for Farmville residents. In addition to enjoying the beautiful scenery and comradery with others, participants in this year’s race can feel a sense of awe as they run in the footsteps of history.
“High Bridge.” American Battlefield Trust, 2018, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-
“High Bridge.” Visit Farmville, 2018, http://visitfarmville.com/high-bridge/.