Tucked into the lower portion of the Great Valley of Western Virginia is Smyth County. It encompasses three major valleys that were formed by the three forks of the Holston River. The valley along the North Fork of the River is called Rich Valley; Middle Valley is along the Middle Fork; Rye Valley is along the South Fork of the River. A large part of the County is located within the boundaries of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. It also includes Hungry Mother State Park. These sites attract thousands of visitors, as well as residents, making it a popular destination. Visitors also enjoy the slower pace of life and the values and hospitality of the citizens.
Smyth County is an area of 452 square miles (451 square miles in land; 1.4 square miles in water). The estimated population in 2015 was 31,470 people. The population density was 70 people per square mile. The county seat is the town of Marion. Part of the County is within the Jefferson National Forest.
The County includes three towns (Chilhowie, Marion, and Saltville) and several unincorporated communities:
- Seven Mile Ford
- Sugar Grove
- Rich Valley
Major highways in Smyth County are:
- Interstate Highway 81
- S. Highway 11
- State Routes 16, 42, 91, and 107
The County has no remarkable reputation for serious traffic accidents or fatalities in auto accidents. Yet highway accidents occur, and some of them are serious or fatal. Country roads have unique dangers for drivers, particularly when they are fatigued, distracted or drunk. Altizer Law, P.C., helps people who are injured in car crashes, pedestrian accidents, or truck accidents in Smyth County. Should you or a loved one be injured in a highway collision, we are here to help you and to obtain justice for you. Your initial consultation is free. We fight aggressively and relentlessly for our clients until justice is served and they are awarded an appropriate financial settlement for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
History of Smyth County
Smyth County was organized in 1832 of portions of Wythe and Washington counties. It was named for Alexander Smyth, who was a general during the war of 1812 and served in the Virginia and the U.S. Congresses. Early settlers in the area arrived in the 1740s. Legal settlement began in 1768, with the earliest settlers being of Scotch-Irish and German descent, much like the surrounding counties.
The community center of what is now the Town of Marion was originally known as Royal Oak, the home of Arthur Campbell, who was a frontiersman in the late 18th century. The Town of Marion offers access to the Jefferson National Forest, Hungry Mother State Park (home of the annual Arts and Crafts Festival), Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and the Appalachian Trail. Also located in Marion is the Lincoln Theatre, one of the last three Mayan revival theatres in the Nation. Two important inventions came from Marion: Mountain Dew and coal mining equipment which held the open-face mining record for several years during the 1980s. Marion is also home to the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute, which opened in 1887.
The Town of Chilhowie adopted its name when the town was incorporated in 1913. It is a Cherokee word meaning “valley of many deer.” Throughout the 18th century it was the starting point of many hunting expeditions. During the days of stagecoach travel, the area was called Town House. When the railroad was built in 1856 the town was called Greever’s Switch. This honored the first Station Master and the mechanical switch that allowed freight cars to be moved to a side track for loading and unloading freight.
Chilhowie’s first industry was the Pottery Shop, which was the forerunner of the Virginia Paving and Sewer Pipe Company, which was built by George Palmer in 1890. These companies laid the groundwork for the industries that have sustained the Town through the years: pottery, brick, lumber, textiles, fertilizer, equipment and furniture manufacturing. The clay used in Chilhowie Brick was very popular about 100 years ago. Taking clay flattened the slope of the land south of the Old Stage Road. These kiln-fired bricks have even been found in Paris, France.
The Town of Saltville, which actually straddles the County Line between Smyth County and Washington County, was named for the salt deposits that lie beneath the valley. This was the birthplace of the commercial salt industry in the 1780s. Because it was the primary source of salt for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, it was a target of Union forces. Two battles were fought for control of Saltville and the salt works. Its loss was considered a blow to the vanishing resources of the Confederacy.
In 1933 local residents donated 2,000 acres of land to the Commonwealth for the creation of a state park in Smyth County along the Hungry Mother Creek. According to legend, a conflict between a settler and an Indian resulted in the capture of a woman named Molly Marley and her child. They escaped at some point. When a search party found the toddler, the only words he spoke were “Hungry Mother.” Thus, the name became Hungry Mother. The park was developed by the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps, with the Virginia Conservation Commission. It was opened in 1936, and was one of the first six state parks created in Virginia.
Smyth County Economy
The economy of Smyth County today owes much to its historic industries. According to the latest update to the report of the Virginia Employment Commission (June 2016), the leading industries in Smyth County, based on number of employees, are:
- Government (almost entirely local and state)
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Retail Trade
- Accommodation and Food Service
The top employers in the County are:
- Utility Trailer Manufacturing — Utility Trailermanufactures dry vans, flatbeds, reefers, and curtain-sided trailers. We’re the largest refrigerated van & the number two trailer company
- Teleperformance USA — Teleperformance is a multinational company headquartered in France. The company specializes in outsourced omnichannel customer experience management, also known as Business Process Outsourcing.
- Smyth County School Board
- Southwest Virginia Mental Health Center
- General Dynamics Armament — General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products has a broad portfolio that offers high-performance weapon and armament systems, survivability systems for combat vehicles, composite products for aircraft and ground systems, and heavy-duty off-road axle and suspension systems to the U.S. military, allied forces and select commercial customers.
- Royal Mouldings Limited — the largest producer of decorative polymer and Cellular Vinyl moulding extrusion components and systems in North America, we offer the most extensive selection of stock and custom color products available.
- Mountain States Health Alliance
- Food City
- TRW Automotive US LLC — TRW Automotive, headquartered in Livonia, Michigan was an American global supplier of automotive systems, modules and components to automotive original equipment manufacturers and related aftermarkets.
- W & L Construction and Paving — a general contractor offering paving and concrete contracting services.
- Marion Correctional Treatment Center
- County of Smyth
- Masco Builder Cabinet Group — manufactures three nationally recognized cabinetry brands, KraftMaid®, Merillat® and QualityCabinets®
- Wal Mart
- Mount Rogers Community Mental Health Ret Services Board
- Mountain Empire Operations — Mountain Empire Operations LLC was founded in 1966. The company’s line of business includes providing inpatient nursing and rehabilitative services to patients who require continuous health care.
- Town of Marion
- Woodgrain Millwork — Woodgrain Millworkis a moulding and millwork manufacturer and supplier dedicated to delivering “best in class” service and millwork products to all customers
- District Three Governmental Cooperative — PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION & SENIOR SERVICES IN SOUTHWESTERNVIRGINIA.
- Scholle Packaging Inc — performance and better packaging is our promise. We make your products safe and accessible while minimizing waste and extending shelf life.
- Blue Ridge Medical Management
- Food Country USA
- Saltville Medical Center
- Kennametal, Inc — Kennametal, the trusted innovator in metal-cutting technology, offers a complete range of indexable inserts for general turning operations. From roughing to finishing, Kennametal has the correct insert. Plus, Kennametal offers the next generation in tooling with Beyond™. Harnessing advanced science and exceptional experience, our Beyond inserts deliver unparalleled levels of productivity, efficiency, dependability, and profitability
- Bank of Marion
In any area in which the third largest economic industry is health care and social services, one will find a number of treatment facilities and a large number of medical caregivers and professionals. There is ample opportunity for error. When medical professionals and caregivers make mistakes people tend to be hurt, harmed, or killed. Even the most dedicated and best-trained individuals can make mistakes. Whether in a physician’s office, a hospital, or nursing and rehabilitation center, negligence, wrongdoing, and distraction can occur, often with very serious results. If you or a loved one should be hurt or harmed due to the mistakes or wrongdoing of a caregiver or medical professional, you have a right to obtain justice and to receive an appropriate financial settlement for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The attorneys of Altizer Law, P.C. have represented many residents of Southwest Virginia to demand and win appropriate settlements. If you are harmed by the mistakes of a trusted medical professional, call Bettina and Terri. We care about you and your family, and we fight for every client.
Smyth County Attractions and Activities
Smyth County offers several parks, recreation centers, and historic buildings and monuments. There are also several festivals throughout the year.
- Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area is biologically the most diverse of Virginia’s management areas, due to the differences in elevation. It is an area of 25,477 acres that are spread across parts of Smyth, Washington, Russell and Tazewell counties. It offers Hunting and Fishing, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and photograph some of the various species. It is also a popular place for hiking and horseback riding.
- Hungry Mother State Park
- Lincoln Theatre
- Smyth County Museum and Historical Society
- Civil War Battlefield Overlook (Saltville)
- King-Stuart House (Saltville)
- Madam Russell Methodist Church and Cabin, and its magnificent stained glass windows
- Museum of the Middle Appalachians
- Palmer Mill and Playhouse
- Chilhowie Art Place, featuring a different artist every month
- Aspenvale Cemetery
- Clair’s Bottom Baptist Church, established in 1775
- Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail, which offers both some of the best fishing the Virginia. Locations include Whitetop Laurel Creek (a beautiful trout stream), New River (one of the top five smallmouth bass fisheries in the nation), South Fork of the Holston River (a premier trout fishery), Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing, Cripple Creek fee fishing, South Holston Lake, and Hungry Mother Lake.
- Marion Regional Farmer’s Market
- Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts
- Salt Park, which illustrates the process of making salt.
- Salt Trail
- Numerous hiking and birding trails
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If you or a loved one should be injured while in Smyth County due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another, you have the right to justice and appropriate financial compensation. In addition to car accidents and medical malpractice/nursing home abuse and neglect, we help clients who have been injured due to improperly maintained premises or due to dangerous of defective products. If you are injured, the staff of Altizer Law, P.C., will surround you with compassion and our attorneys will fight aggressively and relentlessly to obtain justice and an appropriate financial compensation to help you get your life back on track.