The rural community of Mount Croghan in Chesterfield County dates back to the American Revolution when a French officer, Major Croan, set up camp here on his way from Camden to Virginia in 1780. Legend has it that Major Croan camped on a nearby hill to keep watch. Mount Croghan is a variation on Major Croan’s name.
Looking at the worn remnants of this small farming community, it is hard to imagine economic growth taking root here. Yet by 1809 Mount Croghan was established enough to have a post office, and Elizabeth Baptist Church formed in 1825. The town’s first school, Elizabeth Academy, was built in 1836, and Mount Croghan seemed to be moving forward in both education and community development. However, Mount Croghan was burned by Union troops towards the end of the Civil War in 1865, destroying much of the town and its records. Elizabeth Academy also was lost in the fire.
The community quickly built another school, Mount Croghan Academy; it was not successful and closed in 1900. Despite the school’s closing, the rest of the town finally began to recover from the war, as the Chesterfield and Lancaster Railroad was established nearby and allowed residents to transport their crops and wares. As a result, a new school, pictured above, was built in 1912.
The growing economy in this small community would not last, however. Following the Great Depression, Mount Croghan was once again destitute, yet its people still greatly valued education. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) designated a gymnasium be built for the school, and in 1933 the gym (pictured above), built of local stones, was was completed.
Sadly, Mount Croghan suffered another fire in 1931. Though the school and gymnasium were spared, likely due to their building materials, a significant part of the town was not so fortunate. Many businesses lost in the fire were never rebuilt, and the local economy saw a steep decline. By the 1950s Mount Croghan’s population was decreasing rapidly, as people were moving to more industrialized towns for jobs. Today the population numbers just over 100 people, but the local museum keeps Mount Croghan’s history alive.
More Pictures of Mt. Croghan Academy