Before he became one of the most influential educators and orators in American history, Booker T. Washington was born as a slave on a 207-acre tobacco farm in Franklin County. 

Today, visitors to Virginia's Blue Ridge have the opportunity to step into history and experience his birthplace at the Booker T. Washington National Monument.

Born on April 5, 1856, Washington was one of 10 slaves on the plantation that belonged to James and Elizabeth Burroughs. In his early life as a slave, Washington lived in a 14x16-foot one-room kitchen cabin with his mother, brother and sister.

Booker T. Washington National Monument

His responsibilities included carrying water to the men who worked in the fields, carrying the school books of the Burroughs children when they walked to school, and helping transport grain to the local mill.

Once the Civil War ended in 1865 and the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced to Southern slaves, Washington's mother moved herself and her children to West Virginia to be with her husband, who worked in the salt mines. Washington taught himself to read and write and eventually returned to Virginia to attend the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), which was established to educate freedmen.

Following his time in Hampton, Washington became the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and a prominent voice for African American rights and the importance of education of freedmen in the post-Civil War south.

The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia's Blue Ridge exists to honor and preserve his life, achievements, and contributions to American history. It also serves as a reminder of the powerful legacy of Washington and the context of race in American history and society.

Operated and maintained by the National Park Service, the monument features a variety of interactive exhibits and activities that offer a glimpse of what life was like on the farm during the mid-19th century.

An audio-visual presentation in the visitor center introduces the story of Booker T. Washington, and the Plantation Trail is a 1/4-mile loop through a historic area with reconstructions of the farm buildings that were on the plantation during Washington's early life, including the kitchen cabin where he lived.


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The following additional information will help you plan your visit to the Booker T. Washington National Monument.

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Open Daily, Year-Round
Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1

There is no admission fee to the monument.

Ranger guided walking tours are available at the monument for groups with a minimum of 10 people and reservations must be made in advance. The tours are generally 30-60 minutes and include a 15-minute introductory video. Call the park at (540) 721-2094 to make a reservation.

Address: 12130 Booker T. Washington Highway, Hardy, VA 24101

Visit our History & Heritage section to learn more about the historic sites of Virginia's Blue Ridge and check out our History Itinerary for more ideas on ways you can experience the rich history of the region.