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Franklin, Virginia

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Title: Franklin, Virginia  
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Subject: Hampton Roads, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Southampton County, Virginia, U.S. Route 58, List of radio stations in Virginia
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Franklin, Virginia

Franklin, Virginia
Downtown Franklin Virginia (photographed by Taber Andrew Bain)
Downtown Franklin Virginia (photographed by Taber Andrew Bain)
Official seal of Franklin, Virginia
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Country United States
State Virginia
Incorporated March, 1876
 • Mayor Raytine Johnson-Ashburn
 • City 8.3 sq mi (21 km2)
 • Land 8.2 sq mi (21 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 39 ft (12 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 8,582
 • Density 1,045/sq mi (403/km2)
 • Metro 1,645,015
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 23851
Area code(s) 757
FIPS code 51-29600[1]
GNIS feature ID 1494943[2]

Franklin is an independent city in Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,582.[3] The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Franklin with Southampton County for statistical purposes.


  • History 1
    • Civil War 1.1
    • Industrialization and the Camp family 1.2
  • Economy 2
  • Geography 3
    • Adjacent counties 3.1
  • Demographics 4
    • Blackwater River 4.1
  • Community 5
    • Education 5.1
    • Sports 5.2
    • Community resources 5.3
  • Climate 6
  • Notable people 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The city of Franklin had its beginnings in the 1830s as a railroad stop along the Blackwater River. During this era, the river was used to transport goods to and from the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina.[4]

Civil War

A historic sign in downtown Franklin with information on the Civil War and Union Camp

In 1862, the American Civil War came to Franklin, in what was referred to as the Joint Expedition Against Franklin[5] As several United States Navy Flag steamships, led by the USS Commodore Perry, tried to pass through Franklin on the Blackwater River, a band of local Confederates opened fire on the ships. As stated by an officer aboard one of the ships, "The fighting was the same—Here and there high banks with dense foliage, a narrow and very crooked stream, with frequent heavy firing of musketry."[6]

In all, the battle yielded five naval casualties and 16 wounded. As the naval vessels retreated, the Confederates tried to block the narrow Blackwater River by felling large trees across the width. In the end, the Confederate attempts failed as no soldiers were captured and no ships were lost.[6] A total of seven Medals of Honor were awarded to individual seamen for their distinguished service.[7][8]

Industrialization and the Camp family

It was not until 1887 that Franklin began to see significant growth. Six brothers from the Camp family, with local roots, took possession of a local sawmill. The sawmill was small and had been operating for several years alongside the Blackwater River[9] With the Camp family's acquisition of the mill, it experienced 20 years of rapid growth under the leadership of Paul Douglas Camp (President), James Leonidas Camp (Vice-president) and Robert Judson Camp (Secretary-treasurer). At the end of this period, after a bout with near-bankruptcy, World War I brought the Camp family back to financial success, bringing along with it the city of Franklin. By 1918, "Tiny Franklin had become a booming wartime village..."[9]

By 1955, the Camp Corporation's annual sales reached $28 million, much of which they spread throughout the city of Franklin. The Camp family, with a strong sense of family and community, gave much back to the city of Franklin through above average wages and generous donations to local causes.[10] On May 29, 1956, the residents of Franklin were informed that the Local Camp Manufacturing Corporation had just negotiated a merger with the Union Bag and Paper company operating out of New York. This merger formed the Union Camp Corporation.

The city continued to grow along with Union Camp, and was incorporated as an independent city in 1961, separating from Southampton County.

Union Camp thrived in Franklin until 1999 when it was acquired by International Paper. Though Union Camp no longer exists in Franklin, the Camp family name lives on. Their legacy is most notable in the community, with the community college Paul D. Camp Community College, the James L Camp Jr. YMCA, the Texie Camp Marks Children's Center, and The Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library.


Modern day Franklin has two major industrial sectors: agriculture and manufacturing.[11] Franklin is listed as being the 13th-most profitable and 12th-largest farming community in the state.[12] The neighboring areas of Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, along with the city of Suffolk are all ranked in the 20 most profitable farming counties, with Southampton County being the eighth-largest in the state.[12]

With the high agricultural profile of Franklin and the surrounding areas, it was only with the opening of the Camp Lumber Mill in 1887 that the manufacturing sector began to expand. The Camp Lumber Mill became the Union Camp Corporation, which was eventually bought by International Paper.[11] Today, the International Paper mill located on the eastern boundary of the city, aside the Blackwater River, produces lumber, pulp and paper products and other chemical by-products.

International Paper announced on October 22, 2009 that the paper mill would be permanently closed, which took place in May 2010. This eliminated ~1,100 jobs from the community. [13] They have since resumed limited manufacturing, producing fluff pulp.[14] This resulted in 213 new jobs.[15]


Flooding after Hurricane Floyd in Franklin, Virginia

Franklin is located at (36.674954, -76.930799).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.3 square miles (21.5 km2), of which 8.2 square miles (21.2 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2) (1.7%) is water.[16]

Adjacent counties


Age distribution in Franklin

As of the census[22] of 2010, there were 8,582 people, 3,384 households, and 2,277 families residing in the city. The population density was 999.2 people per square mile (385.9/km²). There were 3,767 housing units at an average density of 451.0 per square mile (174.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 39.4% White, 56.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,384 households out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.8% were married couples living together, 21.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 79.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 73.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,687, and the median income for a family was $40,299. Males had a median income of $32,083 versus $21,927 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,573. About 16.8% of families and 19.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.9% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.

Blackwater River

22Ft. Water marker in downtown Franklin
1999 Flood memorial

The Blackwater River, running along the eastern boundary of the city, played an important role in the industrialization of the city, but has not been immune to problems plaguing rivers, most notably flooding. In 1999, in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, downtown Franklin was submerged under as much as 12 feet of water as the Blackwater River swelled to a historical crest of 26.4 feet.[23] The resultant flooding caused the submersion of 182 business and 150 homes, located primarily in downtown.[24] In 2006, after a rainstorm left the area saturated, the river crested at close to 23 feet, the highest crest since 1940 excluding 1999.[23]

When the hurricane name "Floyd" was retired in 2000, the name chosen as a replacement was Franklin. In 2006, Franklin endured another large-scale flood reaching just below the record 23 foot water line set from the 1999 flood. The flood was the result of a storm which distributed a large amount of water throughout the watershed in which Franklin resides.


The franklin airport sign with the International Paper papermill in the background.


These are all places that provide education at some level in the area of Franklin.


Franklin High School is home to the 2004 and 2008 VHSL Division 1A State Football Champions. Franklin City Schools is home to First Robotics team 1610 who were winners of the First Robotics Nasa/VCU regional robotics competition in 2006 and The First Robotics Virginia regional competition in 2013 and 2014.

Community resources

  • Franklin Municipal Airport (John Beverly Rose Field)
  • Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library
  • James L. Camp Jr. YMCA
  • Southampton Academy Courtland, VA
  • Southampton Memorial Hospital
  • The Tidewater News (


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Franklin has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[25]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ Rouse, Parke Jr. The Timber Tycoons - The Camp Families of Virginia and Florida, and their empire, 1887-1987. Southampton County Historical Society, 1988. . pg 1.
  5. ^ United States. US Navy. Report of the Secretary of the Navy, December, 1862. pg 149.
  6. ^ a b United States. US Navy. Report of the Secretary of the Navy, December, 1862. pg. 153
  7. ^ "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (M-Z)".  
  8. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients Civil War A-L".  
  9. ^ a b Rouse, Parke Jr. The Timber Tycoons - The Camp Families of Virginia and Florida, and their empire, 1887-1987. Southampton County Historical Society, 1988. pg 2.
  10. ^ Rouse, Parke Jr. The Timber Tycoons - The Camp Families of Virginia and Florida, and their empire, 1887-1987. Southampton County Historical Society, 1988. . pg 3.
  11. ^ a b "Tourism & History". Archived from the original on 2006-10-29. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  12. ^ a b "Virginia Farm Bureau". Archived from the original on 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  13. ^ Olson, Peter. "Adding Jobs". Virginia Pilot Online. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  14. ^ McWhirter, Cameron (11 September 2012). "Chinese diapers save a U.S. paper mill". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  15. ^ Olson, Peter. "Adding Jobs". Virginia Pilot Online. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  17. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  22. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  23. ^ a b "Historic Crests for the Blackwater River near Franklin". Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  24. ^ "Virginia Hurricane History". Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  25. ^ Climate Summary for Franklin, Virginia

External links

  • City of Franklin
  • Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance - serving Franklin
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