There’s a 92-year-old railroad tunnel here along Lusters Gate Road that serves as a marker when locals give directions. But the old tunnel means more than that.
It’s a demarcation line between the northern section of the Ellett Valley – where high-priced housing developments are going up – and the remainder of the valley.
That’s what Ellett Valley is becoming, a two-tiered community where the old and new, the unassuming and the ostentatious, coexist. A group of professionals working in Blacksburg, Christiansburg and beyond have been moving into the area once dominated by farming families.
The valley also has become a community of contrasts.
The antiquated railroad tunnel is too narrow for two vehicles to pass. Yet the valley is home to part of the $ 108 million “smart” road that’s being built to test the latest in high-tech transportation.
Modest homes dot the valley while sprawling mansions, some with price tags topping $ 1 million, are being built on the overlooking hillside.
Even the area’s name is a change. Until 15 years ago, the valley consisted of two communities: Ellett and Lusters Gate. Now it’s considered one, the Ellett Valley – with Hightop and Paris mountains on one side, and the steep climb up the divide to Blacksburg on the other.
Whether the changes are for the better depends on your perspective.