Washington County, Virginia is a diverse area with a rich history that attracts a large number of tourists and visitors to its annual festivals and for access to wonderful outdoor activities and experiences. The estimated population in 2015 was 54,876 people. The County includes 566 square miles (561 square miles in land and 5 square miles in water). The population density was 97 people per square mile.
Located in Washington County are Emory and Henry College, Virginia Highlands Community College, and Washington County Adult Skill Center. Parts of the County are situated within two National Protected Areas: Jefferson National Forest and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.
Washington County was created in 1776 of land taken from Fincastle County. It was named for George Washington (then commander of the Continental Army). It was one of the first areas named for George Washington.
Washington County is divided into seven magisterial districts. There are four incorporated towns in the County:
- Glade Spring
Unincorporated communities include:
- Green Spring
- Goose Pimple Junction
Several highways provide access to and within Washington County:
- Interstate highway I-81
- US Routes 11, 19, 58, and 421
- State Routes 75, 80, 91, and 58 Alt.
We all know that accidents can happen at any time and in any place. Interstate highways present certain dangers, particularly the risks associated with traffic moving at high speed, fatigued or distracted drivers, and unfamiliarity with the area. Other highways and major roads present different dangers. Drunk or drugged drivers are a danger of any roadway. Rural roads present a number of dangers, including fatigue and road hazards that contribute to vehicles leaving the roadway and rollover crashes. Even in towns there are dangers from drivers who are distracted or are speeding. These dangers might include risks to pedestrians, as well as to parked vehicles and other traffic.
If you are injured in a car crash or other vehicle accident in Washington County that was not your fault you may have grounds to bring a lawsuit against the driver responsible for the accident. At Altizer Law, P.C., we help people every day who have been injured (or whose loved ones have been killed) in auto accidents. Our highly skilled, knowledgeable and caring attorneys are ready to help you. Call us for a free initial consultation (if you cannot come to us, we will come to you) to evaluate your case. We represent our clients with aggressive determination to obtain justice on their behalf and to see that they are awarded the highest possible financial settlements for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other hurts and harms.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the area now known as Washington County was occupied by native peoples for up to 14,500 years before the arrival of European settlers. Evidence of pre-historic Indian villages has been found throughout the County. Yet by the time European settlers arrived no native peoples were living in the area.
Written evidence suggests that the Spanish were the first Europeans in the County. Under the leadership of Hernando Moyana, a troop came to an area that appears to be Saltville to attack an Indian village.
By 1747 the government of Virginia was encouraging settlement in the area through grants of large tracts of land. The Patton Grant included 100,000 acres; the Loyal Company Grant (Walker Grant) was 800,000 acres; the Wolf Hill Tract, which was surveyed in 1750 and is now the town of Abingdon. Early settlers lived on these lands until the 1750s, but many fled the hostilities of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Permanent settlement of the area dates to 1769. Most of these early settlers were Protestants of northern European descent (primarily Scotch-Irish and German).
Throughout most of its history, Washington County’s economy was based primarily on agriculture. For many years, grains raised in the County were exchanged for items they could not produce that were brought in by wagons. This was the norm until the arrival of the railroad. Mechanized farming began to appear during the latter half of the 19th century. In the 1850s two new arrivals changed the economy. The first was the arrival of the railroad; the second was the demand for tobacco. From that time forward for many years tobacco was the primary cash crop. Some of the County’s wealth came from the operations at Saltville and from the cutting down of forests.
Some of the success of the area has been tied to location. The county surrounds trails made by buffalo and use by native peoples. One of these trails ran north to south and is now U.S. Highway 58. Another trail ran southeast to northwest and is now Interstate Highway 81. These two major trails intersected at Abingdon. By 1790 these trails became stagecoach routes. In 1856 the railroad came to town. The Virginia and Tennessee Railroad ran from Bristol to Lynchburg. In time, other railroads passed through Washington County that provided connections with North Carolina and Southwest Virginia’s coal mines.
The town of Saltville was built and maintained for many years by the Olin Chemical Company as a “Company Town.” Saltville was named for the salt marshes in the area. Olin extracted salt to make soda ash, a product used in a variety of manufacturing processes. Until 1971 Saltville was the site of one of the largest soda-ash plants in the country that ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But in 1971 troubles began with water pollution due to the processes used by Olin. The company also learned that it was possible to extract soda ash at a lower cost in areas of the West.
The town was devastated by Olin’s withdrawal. Town leaders were faced with new challenges and responsibilities previously managed by the company. Many were jobless and many more were dealing with health problems traceable to the pollution of the Holsten River. In the 40 years since the plant closed, three major businesses have moved into Saltville. The first is the largest salt-water fish hatchery on the East Coast. The second business, Spectra Energy, is storing vast amounts of natural gas, in the underground salt caverns. Third, a firm has once again started extracting the town’s most famous product, shipping out tons of sodium chloride by truck every day.
According to officials of the downtown Saltville Museum of the Middle Appalachians, “Olin has spent $100 million over the past 40 years trying to clean up the pollution left by its plant. Hundreds of acres remain fenced off and out of bounds. Signs along the North Fork of the Holston River caution against eating the fish.”
After the Civil War, the arrival of the railroad enabled the town of Glade Springs to develop. It quickly became a prime shipping yard for local produce and livestock. After passenger service to the Town was discontinued, growth slowed. Glade Spring was one of the many southern towns devastated by the tornado outbreak in April of 2011.
Abingdon, the county seat of Washington County, is a designated Virginia Historic Landmark. It is home to several historically important sites. Abingdon is also known as a center for fine arts and crafts, which are located along Main Street. The area now known as Abingdon was surveyed between 1748 and 1750. Legend has it that Daniel Boone named the site Wolf Hills. In 1774 Black’s Fort was built to protect local settlers when they were threatened. In 1778 the town was incorporated as Abingdon, named for Martha Washington’s ancestral home in Oxfordshire, England.
According to the latest (2016) update of the report of the Virginia Employment Commission, the top industries (defined by number of people employed) in Washington County are:
- Government (primarily local government)
- Retail Trade
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Transportation and Warehousing
The top employers in Washington County (according to the same report) are:
- Food City
- Washington County Schools
- Mountain States Health Alliance – Medical experts you can World-class facilities and the latest technologies close to your home. Experienced doctors and staff who care and understand the needs of the communities we serve throughout 29 counties in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina. Mountain States delivers all that and more as we continually strive to bring comfort, convenience, respect and the best possible health care to you and those you love.
- Bristol Compressors International — Bristol Compressors International, LLC, designs and manufactures hermetic compressors for residential and light commercial air conditioning, heat pump and refrigeration applications – and is one of the largest compressor manufacturers in the world.
- Utility Trailer Manufacturing — Utility Trailer is a leading manufacturer of quality, lightweight, high-value Dry Vans, Reefers (Refrigerated Vans), Flatbeds, and Tautliner
- Camac Corporation — Since 2010, Camac Corp has been providing Yarn Spinning Mills from Bristol.
- Wal Mart
- Paramont Manufacturing — manufactures and markets molded parts and accessories for light and heavy motor vehicles.
- Emory and Henry College
- Washington County
- Virginia Highlands Community College
- Cabela’s — Cabela’s Inc. is an American direct marketer and specialty retailer of hunting, fishing, boating, camping, shooting, and related outdoor recreation merchandise, based in Sidney, Nebraska.
- Town of Abingdon
- Professional Employment Services – employment agency, temp agency
- Kearney National, Inc. — manufactures and distributes electrical power distribution equipment and electrical and electronic components. It manufactures electronic parts such as electronic and magnetic sensors, switches, and automotive electric systems.
- Columbus McKinnon Corporation — Columbus McKinnon is a leading worldwide designer, manufacturer, and marketer of material handling systems and services, which efficiently and ergonomically move, lift, position, or secure material. Key products include hoists, actuators, cranes, and lifting and rigging tools. With a rich 140-year tradition, the company is focused on commercial and industrial applications that require the safety and quality provided by its superior design and know-how.
- People, Inc. — Although People Incorporated was created 52 years ago, our core mission to help people build good futures and realize their dreams continues. Today, we are one of the largest, most effective community action agencies in the country. We help people help themselves with far-reaching programs that change lives for the better, and improve communities for all residents of Virginia
- Bristol City Utilities Board
- SW Virginia Regional Jail Authority
- Lowes’ Home Centers
- Highlands Union Bank
- Lux Enterprises, Inc. – employment agency
- Abingdon Health and Rehab Center — provides a sanctuary of rehabilitation, long-term, and respite care to our neighbors in Abingdon and the surrounding communities. At Abingdon Health & Rehab Center, our goal is simple: to provide the most effective treatment for you in a compassionate, comfortable environment
- Barter Foundation, Inc. — Established to create and secure the future for all children. To restore self-respect and respect for others. To encourage and support their dreams
Medical facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and medical professionals, regardless of their training and dedication, make mistakes occasionally. When malpractice occurs, people are harmed, sometimes fatally. When nursing homes make hiring mistakes, or when caregivers become fatigued or distracted, people can also be harmed. If you or a loved one is hurt or harmed by a medical practitioner’s mistake or negligence, or harmed by nursing home abuse or neglect, you want justice, and we are here to help you obtain justice and a fair and appropriate financial settlement for the hurts and harms endured.
Attractions and Activities in Washington County
Washington County is beautiful and friendly. It also offers a rich history that can be explored by residents and visitors, and a variety of attractions and activities for all.
The town of Damascus is known as “Trail Town USA” because it is an Appalachian Trail Town, and because seven trails cross through downtown Damascus, including:
- Virginia Creeper Trail (one of the Nation’s most popular biking trails)
- Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Crooked Road Music Trail
- Iron Mountain Trail.
These trails offer experiences for hiking, biking, mountain biking, and birding. Trail Days is the largest of the summer festivals in Damascus each summer. It attracts more than 20,000 visitors each year. In fact, it is the largest hiker festival in the world. Those who enjoy fishing often visit Whitetop Laurel Creek, which is one of the largest and most beautiful wild trout streams in Virginia. A number of equestrian trails pass through or near Damascus.
Washington County has been the site of a number of historically important events. While visiting Abingdon, for example, you will want to explore the Abingdon historic district, the Abingdon Muster Grounds, catch the Abingdon Spirit Tour, Fairview Historic Homestead, the Fields-Penn 1860 House Museum, the Old Mollie Steam Engine, Walnut Grove – Yeary Cabin, Veterans Memorial Park, and Mount Rogers National Recreational Area.
Other attractions in Washington County include South Holston Lake, Adventure Mendota, Backbone Rock Recreational Area, Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail, Martha Washington Inn and Spa, White’s Mill, the Arts Depot, and the Washington County Courthouse.
Washington County also offers a wide range of musical venues and a range of musical styles. It is also well known as the home of the most famous stage in Virginia, the Barter Theatre. Walking through the downtown area of Abingdon is the best way to appreciate the museums and galleries, as well as The Arts Depot.
A glance through the National Register of Historic Places will reveal other historic places and structures.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured due to the wrongdoing or negligence of someone else, you have the right to seek justice and to obtain a fair financial settlement. When taking this kind of legal action, you want attorneys known for their aggressive pursuit of justice and appropriate settlement for your hurts and harms. When you call Altizer Law, P.C., you can be assured that we are on your side, and only on your side.