As the population in the New River valley increased in the 18th century, the western branch of the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to the backcountry of the Carolinas and Georgia crossed the region. The branch became known as the Wilderness Road. After Daniel Boone and others improved it about 1775, it was the main route of migration to Kentucky and the West through Cumberland Gap. This segment of the Wilderness Road ascended the Allegheny Mountains at Christiansburg, crossed the New River at Ingles Ferry, then continued west. In the 19th century, the Ingles Ferry Road was incorporated into the South Western Turnpike.
It originated as a railroad town in 1856 and was known as Central. In 1862-65 this section was in the range of Union raids; Confederates burned the bridge at Ingles Ferry to retard raiders. Incorporated in 1887 as a town, the place was incorporated as a city in 1892 and named Radford, for Dr. John B. Radford, prominent citizen. Radford State Teachers College was established here, 1913.
Lovely Mount Tavern
Built by John Heavin on the Wilderness Road in 1796, the Tavern served as an Inn. A settlement, including a general store, blacksmith shop, saloon and homes grew up around it. William baskerville acquired the property in 1827 and operated a post office there from 1836-1837. Dr. John Blair Radford purchased the property in 1842. The post office returned 1849-1888.
This branch of the New River dividing east and west Radford was named after James Connelly, an early pioneer and surveyor. In 1749, he helped to mark the path that became known as the Wilderness Road, today Rock Road south of the Park.
Connelly's Run and a large spring served as Radford's main water supply until about a century ago. This quiet stream is now the central attraction in Wildwood Park serving as a place of solitude and a laboratory for students studying biology and hydrology. Since 1994, water quality has been monitored by Radford High School science classes.
In 1746 “Frederick Stering (Staring) and two sons” were workers on a road “ordered” from the N. Fork of the Roanoke to the New River. Second son, Frederick Starn, Jr., “entered” 200a “below the Little Horseshoe” in March 1747. Other sons, Sgt. Joseph, Pvts. Leonard and Adam, served in the 700 frontier VA Militia under Lt. Col. George Washington, 1756-58. They were sent to the Carolinas for the 1759-60 Cherokee Expedition under Capt. Chas. Hart. Youngest son, Thomas, settled on the Holston but was driven back here by the Indians.
(side b) Frederick Starn (Staring, ca. 1700 - 1774) immigrated to NY from the German Palatinate. With his wife, Mary (Goldman), and six children, he left the Mohawk Valley in NY to settle on the New River, about 2½ miles east of here, by 1744. A 1746, 500a survey designated the “Starn Place in the bend of the river”. 200a were entered “on ye mouth of Crab Creek” in 1747. During the French and Indian War, Frederick Starn was wounded and captured by the Indians in July of 1775 but escaped. He is the ancestor of this large old Southern family who are of German descent.