The Virginia Piedmont is a classic example of this topographic feature. Ascending gently from the coastal plain of the Tidewater, the Piedmont rises to about one thousand feet at the base of the mountains. The land is not flat, but undulating, with definite terrain features. All of the Tidewater's great rivers (the James, the York, the Rappahannock, and the Potomac) have their origins in the Piedmont.
Virginia's Piedmont is as English in origin as is the Tidewater. Most of the place names are taken either from the mother country, such as Buckingham, Brunswich, and Culpepper, or like Lynchburg, from individuals who first settled there. The people of the Piedmont were different in their outlook from those in the Tidewater, and tended to be less comformist. Living standards were much simpler in the Piedmont, and few cultural institutions matched those in the Tidewater. The Piedmont was as devoted to education as the other areas, however. Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Virginia, Randolph-Macon College, Longwood, Sweetbriar, and others have fine traditions of excellent education. The Piedmont's list of illustrious people may not have been as long as Tidewater's, but was just as superior. Thomas Jefferson (one of the American Patriots best known abroad), Patrick Henry, Lewis and Clark, and Booker T. Washington give credence to this claim. The Charlottesville area is sometimes referred to as "Mr. Jefferson's country," and the University of Virginia (that he founded) is often identified as "Mr. Jefferson's university." Mention "the" university and any Virginian will know what is meant.
One hundred and sixty miles wide at its base and forty miles wide in the north, the Piedmont has a respectable sprinkling of industries, but is predominately agricultural. Except in the far north, where the influence of Washington can be felt, the urban areas in the Piedmont are market towns and transportation hubs.