|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Thu, 17 Jan 2002
Grundy is a tiny town tucked deep in the valleys of southwestern Virginia.
It is known for several things: devastating floods that seem to come about every 20 years; a high school wrestling team that routinely wins state titles; and a decade-long effort to thwart flooding by bulldozing its old business district and rebuilding across the river.
The Appalachian School of Law, the location of Wednesday’s shootings, was established in 1997 in the town’s old junior high and elementary schools and sits in the heart of Grundy.
The law school and the town’s move are part of an effort to revitalize Grundy, which has gone boom and bust several times since its founding.
The town is surrounded by ridge after ridge of 2,000-foot-tall mountains. The business district was built at the confluence of the Levisa River and Slate Creek, one of the few flat, buildable pieces of land in Buchanan County.
By 1920 or so, lumber companies had cut down all the virgin oak and yellow poplar. Just as they left town, coal was discovered and Norfolk & Western laid a railroad to haul it out.
In the 1930s, then again in the early 1970s, the small town was flush with coal money.
In 1977, 15 inches of rain fell on Grundy during one day, raced down steep mountain slopes and a wall of water surged through the downtown.
Shortly after that, coal got pushed aside by cheap oil.
Grundy residents have spent the past 25 years hoping for coal prices to recover, and trying to flood-proof the town. It is now home to 1,150.