Heart of Appalachia
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Russell County Virginia
Encompassing 447-square miles of the “Heart of Appalachia”, Russell County is located in the Southwestern region of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Formed in 1786, the county was named in honor of Coronel William Russell, one of the drafters of the Constitution. Historical sites of interest in the county include Moore’s Fort, Dale Hollow Fort, Russell’s Fort, Smith’s Fort, and the Old Russell Courthouse.
The friendly folks of Russell County invite visitors to discover the spectacular scenic beauty, extraordinary recreational opportunities, inspiring historical heritage and diverse Appalachian culture of their part of picturesque Southwestern Virginia. For complete information on all the enjoyable things to do and see in Russell County, contact the Russell County Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 926, Lebanon, Virginia 24266 or call (540) 889-8041.
Russell County Caves
The networks of caves located throughout the county are frequently explored by caving groups from far and near. The 2002 Virginia Speleological Survey reports that there are 292 caves in Russell County with 13 miles of passages. The largest cave is 8,700 feet in length although the majority of the caves average 200 to 300 feet in length. Like all geological anomalies, width and height of the caves vary. Daughtery’s Cave, listed in the National Register of Historic Places is located at Cactus Hill, near Lebanon, Virginia. Daughtery’s Cave is situated near the bank of Big Cedar Creek, near the old Daughtery's gristmill site and iron furnace. Much of the mill washed away from continual flooding that occurred on Big Cedar Creek. The Daughtery's family cemetery is also located in close proximity to the cave.
Old Russell County Courthouse
Constructed in 1799 by Henry Dickenson, the stately stone building was built to replace the log courthouse burned during the Revolutionary War. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Russell County Courthouse is featured Virginia Landmark. Historical artifacts, antiques, tools, documents and photographs are displayed. Located in Castlewood, near Dickenson, the courthouse is open to the public year-around. For hours and driving directions, call (276) 794-7805.
Redbud Capital Of The World
In April, Route 80, known as the Redbud Highway, beckons visitors who delight in the vibrant displace of redbud blossoms that blanket the countryside. Designated the “Redbud Capital of the World” by the Virginia General Assembly, Honaker, Virginia celebrates spring when the redbuds bloom. The Honaker Redbud Festival features mountain music, scrumptious food and Appalachian arts and crafts. If you enjoy touring by motorcycle, the Red Bud Highway is an ideal destination for a breath-taking spring ride. While in Honaker, be sure to visit the Honaker Commercial Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Russell Fork River
Whitewater rafting enthusiasts from around the country come to the Russell Fork River, a tributary of the mighty Big Sandy River to test their skills in a rare world-class whitewater rafting opportunity. The Russell presents a series of raging rapids, swirling pools and turbulent turns. The most aggressive section of the river is whitewater rated Class III to V+. Access points along the route allow rafters and kayakers to navigate easier or more difficult rapids without running the entire river route. Local outfitters offer rafts, kayaks and support equipment for rent as well as shuttle service to points along the river. The Russell Fork River runs through Breaks Canyon. The most challenging water conditions are available four weekends in October when water is released from the John Flanagan Dam. For assistance in planning your rafting adventure, contact Russell Fork River, Route 1, Box 268, Haysi, Virginia 24256 or call (540) 835-9544.
Visit Jessee’s Mill for a glimpse of the past. Designated a national historic landmark by the United States Department of Interior, Park Service and the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Historic Resources, Jessee’s Mill is a historic grist mill that began operations more than 200 years ago. Located on Jessee’s Mill Road, between Lebanon and Cleveland, the mill predates the tax and census records of 1790. The mill provided an integral service to the early settlers, grinding grains to meal and flour and functioning as a trade center for the area. William Gilmore built the original mill. Gilmore sold the mill to John Jessee, a musician and First War of Independence infantryman. Jessee continued to make mechanical improvements and in 1890 competed the three-story structure that stands today. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Jesse’s Mill, Star Route 645, and Jesse’s Mill Road, Lebanon, Virginia 24266 or call (276) 889-8041.
Elk Garden Church
The lovely old Elk Garden Church has the distinction of being the second oldest church in Russell County.
Dante Coal Mining And Railroad Museum
Located at 30 Streight Hollow Road in Dante, the Dante Coal Mining and Railroad Museum presents and extensive collection of exhibits featuring memorabilia and artifacts that depict work and living conditions of the coalfields of Southwestern Virginia. To arrange group tours or for additional information, call (276) 495-8103.
Russell County Farmer’s Market
If you are traveling through Russell County from June - October, be sure to visit Russell County Farmer’s Market held each Friday in Dante Square in Lebanon. Sample fresh-ground coffee and home-made pastries, take home a basket of farm fresh produce or shop for unique, one-of-a-kind Appalachian crafts. Local artisans and craftsmen offer pottery, baskets, quilts, woodcarvings, musical instruments, antiques, fine art and more. At the Russell County Farmer’s Market you will find Virginia hams, succulent cheeses, fresh herbs, jams, jellies, honey and stone-ground grains. For more information contact Russell County Farmer’s Market, 331 West Main Street, PO Box 926, Lebanon, Virginia 24266 or call (276) 889-8041.
Cleveland Virginia History And Heritage Museum
For history buffs seeking to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of Russell County, the Cleveland Virginia History and Heritage Museum, located in the Cleveland Elementary School is an informative stop. The museum is home to diverse collections of documents, memorabilia, photographs and artifacts that represent significant events in the history of the town of Cleveland. To arrange a visit, call (276) 889-2660.
Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve
The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve displays impressive geological formations, carved by wind, water and time. Limestone ledges, towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls are accessible via a suspension bridge and a network of hiking trails. The preserve derives its name from a 400-foot dolomite pinnacle that towers over Big Cedar Creek. Don’t forget to bring your camera. The preserve is an ideal place to view wildlife including black bears, whitetail deer, bobcats, beaver, fox and a huge variety of raptors, songbirds and waterfowl. The preserve is located near Lebanon and open to the public year-around. For additional information call (276) 676-5673.