Fired Chicken Capital of the World
Gordonsville, Virginia was once known as the Fried Chicken Capital of the World. The Virginia Central crossed the Louisa Railroad making Gordonsville a prime rail junction in the mid-nineteenth century. Passenger trains from the era did not serve food. As a result vendors would meet the trains at key stopping points to sell them food and drink. Women would balance platters of chicken on their heads to serve to passengers, including thousands of soldiers that passed through Gordonsville during the Civil War.
Gradually passenger rail service changed to include steel coaches with enclosed vestibules, dining cars and eventually air-conditioned cars with sealed windows. This “modernization” of rail travel brought with it many benefits: centralized service, bulk supply, easier to monitor health and safety and increased profits.
However, with most technological innovations, the increased profits are centralized. The many individuals that made a small living from rail stop service lost their income to the railroads that once provided the opportunity and soon the food vendors disappeared from the railroad stops. Some started local restaurants; others disappeared into obscurity and the “Fried Chicken Capital of the World” is now a distant memory.