Compared to other towns in the Old Dominion, Altavista is relatively young. The idea for the creation of a town in this location came in 1905 when three Lane brothers, contractors for the building of 32 miles of the Virginian Railway in this part of Virginia, bought 2,000 acres of land in Campbell County. The name for the Lane’s new community came from the name of their old farm in Albemarle County. Subsequently, engineers were hired to lay out a town with streets and lots, complete with water, sewer, telephone service, and electric lines. Settlement was encouraged by the awarding of free lots. By 1912 the new Town of Altavista was incorporated.
That year also saw the formation of the Lane Company, maker of the famous Lane cedar chests. From its very beginning as a box manufacturer, the Lane Company would become one of Altavista’s major employers. In addition, the Lane family would play an important role in the Altavista community.
The original town encompassed 1.87 square miles. Residential and industrial growth occurred within the Town boundaries until around 1960, after which the concentration of new development took place outside the boundaries. In order to preserve its tax base and adequately plan for future growth, the Town of Altavista annexed 3.13 square miles of Campbell County on December 31, 1977.