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Bedford County, Virginia facts for kids

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Bedford County
Bedford County Courthouse
Bedford County Courthouse
Official seal of Bedford County
Map of Virginia highlighting Bedford County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1754
Named for John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford
Seat Bedford
Largest town Bedford
 • Total 769 sq mi (1,990 km2)
 • Land 753 sq mi (1,950 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (40 km2)  2.1%
 • Total 79,462
 • Density 103.33/sq mi (39.897/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 5th, 6th

Bedford County is a United States county located in the Piedmont region of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its county seat is the town of Bedford, which was an independent city from 1968 until rejoining the county in 2013.

Bedford County was created in 1753 from parts of Lunenburg County, and several changes in alignment were made until the present borders were established in 1786. The county was named in honor of John Russell, an English statesman and fourth Duke of Bedford.

Bedford County is part of the Lynchburg, Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2020 census, Bedford's population was 79,462. The county population has more than doubled since 1980.


John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, for whom the county was named

The Piedmont area had long been inhabited by indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, mostly Siouan-speaking tribes lived in this area.

Bedford County was established by European Americans on December 13, 1753 from parts of Lunenburg County. Later in 1756, a portion of Albemarle County lying south of the James River was added. The county is named for John Russell, the fourth Duke of Bedford, who was a Secretary of State of Great Britain. In 1782, Campbell County was formed from eastern Bedford County and the county seat was moved from New London to Liberty (now Bedford). Also in 1786, the portion of Bedford County south of the Staunton (Roanoke) River was taken with part of Henry County to form Franklin County.

The town of Bedford became an independent city in 1968, and remained the county seat. On September 14, 2011, the Bedford City Council voted to transition into a town, ending its independent city status. The supervisors of Bedford County also voted to accept the town of Bedford as part of the county when it loses city status. The town of Bedford once more became part of Bedford County on July 1, 2013.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 769 square miles (1,990 km2), of which 753 square miles (1,950 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (2.1%) is water.

Adjacent counties and city

National protected areas

  • Blue Ridge Parkway (part)
  • Jefferson National Forest (part)
  • James River Face Wilderness (part)

State Park

  • Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Major highways

  • US 221
  • US 460
  • US 501
  • SR 24
  • SR 43
  • SR 122


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 10,531
1800 14,125 34.1%
1810 16,148 14.3%
1820 19,305 19.6%
1830 20,246 4.9%
1840 20,203 −0.2%
1850 24,080 19.2%
1860 25,068 4.1%
1870 25,327 1.0%
1880 31,205 23.2%
1890 31,213 0.0%
1900 30,356 −2.7%
1910 29,549 −2.7%
1920 30,669 3.8%
1930 29,091 −5.1%
1940 29,687 2.0%
1950 29,627 −0.2%
1960 31,028 4.7%
1970 26,728 −13.9%
1980 34,927 30.7%
1990 45,656 30.7%
2000 60,371 32.2%
2010 68,676 13.8%
2020 79,462 15.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 60,371 people, 23,838 households, and 18,164 families residing in the county. The population density was 80 people per square mile (31/km2). There were 26,841 housing units at an average density of 36 per square mile (14/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.18% White, 6.24% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 28.2% were of American, 15.6% English, 11.0% German and 9.6% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 23,838 households, out of which 32.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.40% were married couples living together, 7.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.80% were non-families. 20.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the county, the population's age distribution was: 24.00% under the age of 18, 5.80% from 18 to 24, 29.90% from 25 to 44, 27.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 99.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,136, and the median income for a family was $49,303. Males had a median income of $35,117 versus $23,906 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,582. About 5.20% of families and 7.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.30% of those under age 18 and 10.50% of those age 65 or over.


As of 2017, the largest self-reported ancestry groups were:




Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities


Historically, Bedford County was an agricultural economy. While agriculture is still an important factor in the county's economy, Bedford County has significant residential development to serve Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Smith Mountain Lake. Tourism and retail are also becoming more significant with some new industry near Forest and New London.

Notable people

  • Colonel Chaffin (1826 – April 1873), little person who toured the United States and was billed as the "Virginia Dwarf".
  • Erik Estrada (born March 16, 1949), an American actor, voice actor, and subsequent Bedford County deputy sheriff, known for his co-starring lead role in the police drama television series, CHiPs, which ran from 1977 to 1983.
  • Carl Overstreet, (1929-2015) first U2 pilot to fly over Soviet Air Space
  • Thomas Jefferson had a summer retreat in Bedford County called "Poplar Forest".
  • James P. Ownby (1845–1906), Illinois state representative; was born in Bedford County.
  • Lacey Putney was born and raised in Bedford County, VA.
  • Jerry Falwell Jr, Liberty University President, lives in Bedford County on a farm.
  • Sam Sloan, book publisher, lives in Bedford County and attended Boonsboro School Elementary School and High School in Bedford County
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