Virginia Tech® home

Post-WWII Virginia Tech

1945 map of campus

The end of World War II was the beginning of a profound change to Virginia Tech and the surrounding area. The war years were rough on the college. There were shortages of materials necessary to maintain campus facilities. A number of faculty and staff who were not called up for service in the draft left for better paying jobs at the nearby Radford Arsenal. The end of the war brought an influx of new and returning students. Former students who had their time on campus interupted returned to complete what they had started. The Servicemen's Readjustment Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944. The act, "also known as the G.I. Bill, provided World War II veterans with funds for college education, unemployment insurance, and housing." ( This opened up opportunities for veterans who before the war had not considered a college degree. The increase in enrollement, along with the return of faculty and staff, put pressure on tight housing on campus, in Blacksburg, and beyond. There was also a critical need for instructional space to meet the demand for classes.

The housing problem was taken care of in the short term by construction of trailer camps, ultimately growing to three camps on campus in addtion to several camps in town. These camps were rapidly filled with trailers from various military installations; trailers that had been used to provide housing for staff necessary to operate the camps and outposts. The on-campus camps were provided to married students while single students were housed in existing dormitories.

There wasn't enough dormitory space to meet the demand, so the college turned to the nearby shuttered Radford Arsenal for relief. During the war, the same shortage of housing for workers at the growing mutions plant affected the surrounding area. The need for workers was so great, the Norfolk & Western Railway ran special passenger trains to bring in workers from Roanoke and Bluefield. To ease the crunch several dormitories were constructed on the arsenal proper, along with support facilities -- a mess hall, gymasium and related space, and offices. When production shut down, these spaces along with facilities at the New River unit (the "bagging plant") in Dublin were declared surplus. Plans were made to add the arsenal space as a "branch campus" to house the overflow of single males who were arriving on campus. This became known as "Rad-Tech" to those who spent their time there.

Trailers come to campus (and depart)

Life in the trailer camps

The Rad-Tech experience