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Location of Virginia
Flag of Virginia

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The state's capital is Richmond and its most populous city is Virginia Beach, though its most populous subdivision is Fairfax County, part of Northern Virginia, where slightly over a third of Virginia's population of 8.7 million live.

Eastern Virginia is part of the Atlantic Plain, and the Middle Peninsula forms the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Central Virginia lies predominantly in the Piedmont, the foothill region of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which cross the western and southwestern parts of the state. The fertile Shenandoah Valley fosters the state's most productive agricultural counties, while the economy in Northern Virginia is driven by technology companies and U.S. federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency. Hampton Roads is also the site of the region's main seaport and Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base. (Full article...)

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Entrance to the Blue Ridge Tunnel
The Virginia Central Railroad was an early railroad in the U.S. state of Virginia that operated between 1850 and 1868 from Richmond westward for nearly 200 miles (320 km) to Covington. Chartered in 1836 as the Louisa Railroad by the Virginia General Assembly, the railroad began near the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad's line and expanded westward, reaching Gordonsville by 1840, and the base of the Blue Ridge in 1852. Renamed the Virginia Central Railroad, the railroad used a temporary track built over Rockfish Gap until the completion of the Blue Ridge Tunnel, connecting it with the Shenandoah Valley.

The railroad faced significant action against it during the American Civil War as a prime target for raids by Union Cavalry Although the war left the railroad with only a fraction of its line left operable, the railroad was running over its entire pre-war length by July 1865. In 1868, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was formed from the merger of the Virginia Central Railroad and the Covington and Ohio Railroad, expanding westward to the Ohio River by 1873. Today, CSX, Amtrak, and the Buckingham Branch Railroad still use portions of the old Virginia Central line for freight and passenger rail service.

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Anna Anderson, 1922
Anna Anderson (16 December 1896 – 12 February 1984) was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. The real Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia, Nicholas II and Alexandra, was killed along with her parents and siblings on 17 July 1918 by communist revolutionaries, but the location of her body was unknown until 2008.

In 1920, Anderson was institutionalized in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt in Berlin. In March 1922, claims that Anderson was a Russian grand duchess first received public attention. Most members of Grand Duchess Anastasia's family and those who had known her, including court tutor Pierre Gilliard, said Anderson was an impostor but others were convinced she was Anastasia. In 1927, a private investigation identified Anderson as Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish factory worker with a history of mental illness. After a lawsuit lasting many years, the German courts ruled that Anderson had failed to prove she was Anastasia, but through media coverage, her claim gained notoriety. She emigrated to the United States in 1968, and shortly before the expiry of her visa married Jack Manahan, a Virginia history professor who was later characterized as "probably Charlottesville's best-loved eccentric". DNA tests on a lock of Anderson's hair and surviving medical samples of her tissue showed that Anderson's DNA did not match that of the Romanov remains or that of living relatives of the Romanovs. Most scientists, historians and journalists who have discussed the case accept that Anderson and Schanzkowska were the same person.

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Artillery at the Battle of First Manassas

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Credit: NASA

Turning vanes inside one of the wind tunnels at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia

Fact sheet

  • Capital: Richmond, Virginia
  • Total area: 110,862 sq.mi
  • Highest elevation: 5,729 ft (Mount Rogers)
  • Population (2010 census) 8,001,024
  • Date Virginia joined the United States: June 25, 1788

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