Bluefield is a town in Tazewell County, Virginia, along the Bluestone River. The population was 5,444 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Bluefield WV-VA micropolitan area which has a population of 107,342. The micropolitan area is the 350th largest statistical population area in the United States.
Bluefield has not always borne the name Bluefield. The town originated around a small post office named "Pin Hook" in the 1860s, named for a small creek that ran through the community. For a brief time it was known as the commununity of Harman, named after a Civil War hero from the area who had been shot during the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain in Pulaski, County, Virginia. Later, after coal was discovered and a company was formed to build a railroad to the coalfields, the community's name was changed again to "Graham" to honor Col. Thomas Graham, a Philadelphia capitalist. The town was first chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia as the town of Graham in 1884 and operated under that name until a referendum that was held on June 10, 1924, after which time it became known as Bluefield, Virginia. The name change was celebrated in a mock marriage ceremony, which was held in the city park between Bluefield, Virginia, and Bluefield, West Virginia, to celebrate the renaming of the town of Graham to match its sister city across the West Virginia state line. Graham was a community whose borders are now roughly the same as the downtown area alongside the railroad. Bluefield, West Virginia beat Graham, Virginia out as the preferred community for the Norfolk and Western railroad to build its regional headquarters and main docking yards for the Pocahontas region. As a result, Bluefield, West Virginia grew at a much faster rate than its neighbor to the west.
Graham still held out hope to become a major city in the region - billing itself the "Pittsburgh of the South" by its mayor in an effort to attract a steel refining industry alongside the railyards. It is possible that the city may have had a chance to boom, had it not been for the Great Depression, which caused development in the region to come to a halt. Even after the name change in 1924, the city did not start to expand outside of the downtown area until the 1950s, when the city annexed the small town of West Graham, Virginia to the west, and then began to expand to the more open rural foothills to the south of the city.
As the largest town in Tazewell County, Virginia, Bluefield underwent a new wave of growth throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium. After a series of devastating floods in the past five years, the town has relocated its town council chambers and police department from the flood-prone historic downtown area to the southernmost point in the city at the foot of East River Mountain. The area is already booming there - with a Super Wal-Mart and numerous strip malls and a medical center already operating along U.S. Route 460.
Bluefield, Virginia's most prominent residents are Bill Dudley, an NFL Hall of Famer; New York Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw; and the widow of actor Lorne Greene, who previously lived in a mansion atop a hill overlooking one of the town's most historic home, the Sanders house. The Sanders house is home to the Tazewell County Visitors Center.
The town was chosen by Hollywood film producers for the 1990s remake of the classic movie, Lassie, and has been mentioned by musicians in numerous songs, including Blessid Union of Souls' "Oh Virginia". Mike Davis of MTV's hit television show "The Real World" is also from the Bluefield area.