Burke's Garden, Virginia
View of Burke's Garden, Virginia, from the center of the basin
Location of Burke's Garden, Virginia
|Elevation||3,074 ft (937 m)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1498460|
Geography & Geology
The oval, bowl-like valley (or "cove") is known for its fertile land and was once the bed of an ancient sea. About 8.5 miles long and 4 miles wide, it resembles a large volcanic crater in satellite photographs and on topographic maps; however, it was formed when underground limestone caverns collapsed. The valley is the highest in Virginia at around 3,000 feet above sea level and is completely surrounded by Clinch Mountain.
The area was long occupied by varying cultures of indigenous peoples.
Burke's Garden was first surveyed in 1748 by a team of surveyors working for local landowner James Patton. One of the party, James Burke, is said to have thrown away some potato peelings while cooking. A year later, when the party returned to the area, they found potatoes growing in the area where the peels had been left. The area was dubbed Burke's Garden as something of a joke, but the name stuck. The community was an outpost of German immigrants who settled in the backcountry frontier in the late 18th century. 
The area has remained relatively isolated in terms of European-American settlement, as it was not near the transportation corridors of major rivers. In the late 19th century, agents for the Vanderbilt family contacted local farmers about selling land so that the family could build a large estate there. Nobody wanted to sell, and the Vanderbilts instead constructed their Biltmore Estate near Asheville, North Carolina. In the 1990s, a small number of Amish families moved to Burke's Garden, but later they moved out after being unable to purchase enough land and attract enough other Amish families to form a viable community.
The county's oldest church, the Central Lutheran church, is located in Burke's Garden. It originally served multiple denominations as a union church, but more recently has served only Lutherans. In 1952, the community was terrorized by the "Varmint of Burke's Garden", a large coyote that killed many local sheep and caused much damage before being killed.
The area is drained by Wolf Creek (a tributary of the New River (Virginia)) which flows out of the geographic bowl in a northeasterly direction.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (November 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Burkes Garden Central Church and Cemetery". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. and Accompanying photo and Accompanying map
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Fenneman, Nevin M. (1938), Physiography of Eastern United States, New York and London: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., pp 251, 254.