As an introduction to our “Best of the Piedmont Virginian” issue, we think it appropriate to share some writings of our founder, Walter Nicklin. Following is his first letter from the editor (“Letter from Culpeper Street”), and then some of his musings through his time as editor and publisher in the following pages. Initially, The Piedmont Virginian’s offices were on Culpeper Street, and then moved to Rappahannock County. Now we are back at Culpeper Street; seemingly the magazine has not “achieved escape velocity” either and has come home to Warrenton.
When I was a young and ever eager student, a thoughtful teacher encouraged me: “Buddy, you’ll go far one day.” I counted it off last week: I’ve gone exactly 179 paces. From 86 Culpeper Street, my maternal grandmother’s home, to 39 Culpeper, the offices of The Piedmont Virginian.
The street is so-named because it was the old road to Culpeper. All the street names here in Warrenton, built on a crossroads, are of similar origin: Alexandria Pike, Falmouth Street, Winchester Street, Waterloo Street. Leading out of town, away from here … to seek one’s fortune. That’s what most of my childhood cohorts did, and so did I—with a career in journalism, publishing, and international relations.
But I kept returning—never quite able to sever completely my roots here in the rolling, softly seductive landscape of Virginia’s northern Piedmont. To have done so would have been too painful. Or, in the words of a friend from nearby Washington, D.C., a Beltway-bandit engineer: “Walter, you’ve just never achieved escape velocity.”
Yes, the gravitational pull here in the Piedmont is strong. And not simply for natives. People with the wherewithal to live anywhere in the world pick the Piedmont to call their new home.
They come for the natural beauty. They come for the history, the sense of time and place. They come for the agrarian way of life.
The magazine’s mission is to “celebrate and serve.” To the enterprise we will bring the intimate and heartfelt knowledge of a native son—together with the appreciative eyes of a newcomer who never takes things for granted.
Editor & Publisher