Wise County was named in honor of Henry A. Wise, Governor of Virginia (1856-1860). With discovery of coal in 1879, unprecedented growth came to the County and railroad routes were established to ship coal to its many market destinations. The Towns of Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Coeburn, Pound, St. Paul, Wise, and the City of Norton grew up along the rivers and railroads. The County's heritage spawned hardworking, unique individuals with a rich cultural heritage.
Wise County has been called home by many famous people including U-2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers; actor George C. Scott; bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley; Grand Ole Opry stars Jim and Jessee McReynolds; former Green Bay Packer and Super Bowl champion Carroll Dale; Glenn Roberts, Sr., originator of the basketball jumpshot; Olympic Gold Medalist Ollan Cassell; and best-selling authors John Fox, Jr., Adriana Trigiani, and Napoleon Hill.
Located in the southwestern portion of Virginia in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Wise County has been blessed with scenic, recreational, and historic attractions. For beautiful scenery, visit the Powell Valley Overlook, Flag Rock Recreation Area, and the observation tower at High Knob. 35,924 acres of the Jefferson National Forest lie in Wise County, supporting a multitude of outdoor recreational opportunities: hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and picnicking. For something a little more fast-paced, visit Lonesome Pine Raceway.
If you're not an outdoor enthusiast, you can explore our antique and craft shops, colleges, museums, and other historic and cultural attractions. Be sure to see The Trail of the Lonesome Pine the official outdoor Drama of Virginia. The Pro-Art Association also presents outstanding musical, theatrical, and artistic programs. To learn about Wise County's coal mining heritage, visit the Harry W. Meador, Jr. Coal Museum. The Southwest Virginia Museum of the Virginia State Park System showcases the lifestyle of early Southwest Virginia pioneers, and the former home of author John Fox, Jr. is now a Virginia Historic Landmark containing furnishings and memorabilia from the Fox family. For local and regional music, visit Country Cabin II and the VA-KY Opry. Also, every community has an annual festival that features good food, arts and crafts, music, dance, and other entertainment.
The variety of recreational opportunities, cultural opportunities, historic attractions, and the beauty of the area all make Wise County the perfectly natural choice for your next vacation or weekend getaway.
For a complete profile on Wise County and the City of Norton, please visit the Wise County Chamber of Commerce website.