Formed in 1790, the county was named in honor of George Wythe, the first Virginian signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Wythe County is blessed with clear mountain air, lush forests, abundant wildlife, sparkling rivers and streams, natural hot mineral springs, a diverse Appalachian culture, Blue Grass mountain music and a rich historic heritage.
If you are looking for the perfect honeymoon destination, an ideal location for a relaxed family vacation or a corporate retreat, look no further than Wythe County, Virginia. Wythe County offers lodging accommodations to suit every taste and budget, fine dining, shopping and unsurpassed recreational opportunities.
Wythe County, known as the “Hub Of Southwestern Virginia” has long been a crossroads of travel and migration. Wytheville, the county seat was originally named Evansham, in tribute to Jesse Evans, a highly respected local county resident. However, in 1839 the town’s board of trustees voted to officially change the name to Wytheville. For early settlers moving west, Wytheville was an important rest and resupply point. Travelers journeying from the Shenandoah Valley into Tennessee or Kentucky had to pass through Wythe County.
Wythe County was the scene of four major encounters during the Civil War. During these skirmishes, many homes, farms, government buildings and businesses were destroyed and lives were lost.
For visitors wishing to trace their ancestral roots, the Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association is staffed by volunteers that are happy to help assist in your search. Their offices contain more than 900 books and hundreds of manuscripts, family files, photographs, obituaries and miscellaneous correspondence. For assistance write the Wythe County Genealogical and Historical Association, 115 East Main Street, Wytheville, Virginia 24382 or call (276) 228-2445.
Battle Of Wytheville
In Wytheville, a memorial honors the men who fought and died in the “Valley of Death” known as the Battle of Wytheville. The telegraphs, railroads, lead and salt mines of Southwestern Virginia were essential to the Confederate cause. On July 13, 1863, 872 Union officers and enlisted men of the 34th Regiment Mounted Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Coronel John T. Toland, departed Camp Piatt, West Virginia on a forced march into Southwest Virginia to attack the Rebel resources. On the first day of the march, they encountered Confederate forces. Toland’s troops engaged the enemy, killing nine Confederate troops. On July 18th, after an exhausting five-day advance, the Union troops arrived in Wytheville and initiated a raid to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad tracks.
Confederate Generals William Terry and James Walker practiced law in Wythe County. Both are buried in the historic Wytheville East End Cemetery. Wytheville has several sites and structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors wishing to learn more of the history of Wythe County will want to explore Crockett’s Cove Presbyterian Church, also known as Cove Brick Church. Built in 1858, the elegant church is located in Wytheville. Other notable sites of historic significance include St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church and Cemetery built in 1812, the Wythe County Poor House Farm and the Wytheville Historic District.
Battle of Cove Mountain
On May 10, 1864, Union Brigadier General William W. Averell, leading a brigade of Northern troops encountered a Confederate brigade under the command of Brigadier General William E. “Grumble” Jones. A fierce battle raged until the Confederates received reinforcements from Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and counterattacked. The rebels chased the Union forces through the cove area of the county and held the battlefield as night fell. Morning saw Averell returning to West Virginia after failing to destroy Confederate resources.
Wythe County African American Heritage Museum
Located in the historic Wytheville Training School Cultural Center, the Wythe County African American Heritage Museum features photographs, artifacts, documents and memorabilia of Wythe County’s diverse cultural heritage. An emphasis is placed on education. For more information contact the Wytheville Training Center School Cultural Center, 410 Franklin Street, Wytheville, VA 24382 or call (276) 625-0042.
Fort Chiswell Mansion
Located in Chiswell, the Fort Chiswell Mansion is a well-known historic landmark in Wythe County. Steven McGavock and James Cloyd commenced construction of the Fort Chiswell Mansion in 1832 and completed the project in 1839. Once part of a 50,000-acre plantation, the mansion was frequently visited by well-known historical figures and travelers needing provisions. The 13,000-square foot home, kitchen building and smokehouse are open to the public. The house museum is a treasure-trove of artifacts, furniture, equipment, memorabilia, documents and photographs depicting domestic plantation life, slavery and community politics during the period of 1830 through 1865. For more information and to arrange a guided tour, contact Fort Chriswell Mansion, 325 Factory Outlet Drive, Fort Chiswell, Virginia 24360 or call (304) 922-2922 or (304) 323-5435.
Haller-Gibboney Rock House Museum
Built in 1823, the stately Haller-Gibboney Rock House was the home of Wytheville’s first resident doctor. The museum showcases medical records and supplies from the 1800s, period medical equipment, furnishings, artifacts and memorabilia. Located at 205 Tazewell Street in Wytheville, the museum and gardens are open to the public. For more information call (276) 223-3330.
Wythe Art Council Annual Events
An annual event since 1984, the Chautaugua Hot Air Balloon Rally, held in mid-June features dozens of hot air balloons that fill the skies with amazement and delight. Hot air balloon rides are available to the public. For information contact The Wythe Arts Council, PO 911, Wytheville, Virginia, 24382 or call (276) 228-6855.
The Wythe Arts Council also sponsors the Chautaugua Festival in the Park, an 8-day annual event held the third week of June. Celebrating its 28th year, the festival is a much-anticipated event featuring local and regional artisans, craftsmen and musicians. The event begins with the balloon glow in the park. Each day is packed full of musical events, clown performances, arts and crafts demonstrations and family fun contests and games. Shop for a unique, one-of-a-kind art treasure or antique, quits, musical instruments and more. Visitors enjoy live Bluegrass musical performances and the delicious home-style food offered by dozens of different vendors. The balloon rally and festival are fun-filled activities the entire family will love.
Crystal Springs Recreational Area
Located on Plum Hollow Road just outside of Wytheville, the Crystal Springs Recreational Area encompasses 1800-acres in the heart of the Blue Ridge Highlands. Explore a diverse array of hiking trails with a variety of terrain ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. Families with children will especially enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s “Kids in Parks” Track Trails. Track trails are designed to acquaint children with nature through the use of self-guided brochures available at the trailhead. Additional recreational opportunities abound including camping, picnicking, mountain biking, birding and wildlife viewing. For more information call (276) 223-3378.
There are only two incorporated towns in Wythe County. Rural Retreat and Wytheville. Unincorporated villages include Austinville, Cripple Creek, Crockett, Fort Chiswell, Ivanhoe, Max Meadows and Speedwell. Each community offers unique shopping experiences for visitors seeking Appalachian arts and crafts. From charming galleries to roadside markets, visitors will find artisans offering pottery, quilts, baskets, woodcarvings, musical instruments, fine art, local honey, jams, jellies and farm fresh produce.
For assistance in planning your visit to Wythe County, contact the Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 975 Tazewell Street, Wytheville, Virginia 24282 or call (276) 223-3355