It is unknown exactly when the beginnings of a settlement occurred in this area, but it was well before 1854, the year it was re-named Pamplin City. In public records the town known as Merriman’s Shop appears as early as the 1820's. Due to the number of eighteenth century houses in the town of Pamplin and the surrounding area, it is safe to assume that this area has been a community since the late 1700's.
Thomas Merriman purchased property at the location in the early 1800's on which he built his home and a shoe shop. Merriman had been born April 18, 1782 in Cumberland County and died August 16, 1839. On January 30, 1816 he married Margaret “Peggy” Baldwin, the daughter of William Baldwin and Elizabeth Baker.
Nicholas Calvin Pamplin was born March 28, 1803, in Amherst Co., the son of William Pamplin and Mary Wright. He married Elizabeth T. Webb (1817-1891) on May 20, 1833 in Prince Edward County. On August 8, 1844 he purchased 29 acres of land that straddled what was then Charlotte and Prince Edward Counties.
In 1854, a representative of the Norfolk and Western Railroad came to Merriman’s Shop seeking land for a projected rail system. Mr. Pamplin, when approached, donated a large tract of land to the enterprise realizing the potential benefit to the village. In recognition of Mr. Pamplin’s foresight and generosity, he was later honored by having the town named for him.
Situated at the confluence of two major Norfolk and Western rail lines, Pamplin became a 19th century railroad boom town with such promise and expectations that the official name of the community was made "Pamplin City". Hotels, banks, and various types of stores lined Main Street while fashionable homes where built throughout the town. However, with the decline of rail travel, Pamplin's fortunes declined as well.
About 1880, what is known as the Pamplin Pipe Factory was built. Once the largest producer of clay smoking pipes in the world, this facility produced one million pipes per month in its heyday.
The late 1990's brought a renewed emphasis on both the history and future of Pamplin. Over the next ten years, grants were obtained through several State and Federal sources to renovate the former N&W railroad depot, rehabilitate a residential neighborhood, and provide water and sewer upgrades. The depot has since become home to the Pamplin Town Office and also offers a large meeting/event room for all kinds of community gatherings.
Source: History of Pamplin, Va. by Nancy Jamerson Weiland