- Lonesome Pine Airport
- 6225 Airport Road - Wise
- Virginia 24293 - United States
- (276) 328-5300
- [email protected]
Wise County, located in southwestern Virginia, has a rich history that dates back to the early days of European settlement in the region. Here's an overview of the history of Wise County:
Native American History: Prior to European colonization, the area that is now Wise County was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cherokee and Shawnee. These tribes utilized the land for hunting, fishing, and trade.
European Settlement: The first European explorers and settlers arrived in the region during the late 18th century. However, it was not until the early 19th century that permanent settlements began to be established. The completion of the Wilderness Road, a significant pioneer route, through the area in 1796 facilitated westward migration.
Formation of Wise County: Wise County was formed in 1856 from parts of Lee, Scott, and Russell Counties. It was named in honor of Henry A. Wise, a former governor of Virginia and U.S. minister to Brazil.
Civil War: During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Wise County witnessed significant military action and was divided in its loyalties. The county was home to both Union and Confederate sympathizers, resulting in sporadic conflict and raids throughout the war.
Coal Mining Era: The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of coal mining as the dominant industry in Wise County. The region had abundant coal reserves, which attracted mining companies and led to the establishment of numerous mining towns. The coal industry brought economic prosperity but also faced challenges such as labor disputes and hazardous working conditions.
Development of Education: Wise County has a strong educational legacy. The creation of Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia's College at Wise) in 1954 provided accessible higher education opportunities to the region. The college has since become a notable institution in the Appalachian region.
Modern Times: Today, Wise County continues to be associated with coal mining, although the industry has faced declines in recent decades. The county is also known for its natural beauty, including the majestic Jefferson National Forest, which covers a significant portion of the area. Outdoor recreation and tourism have become increasingly important to the local economy.
Top Tourist Attractions
Wise County offers several top tourist attractions that showcase its natural beauty, historical significance, and cultural heritage. Here are some of the notable attractions in Wise County:
- Breaks Interstate Park: Known as the "Grand Canyon of the South," Breaks Interstate Park straddles the border between Virginia and Kentucky. The park offers breathtaking views of the Russell Fork Gorge, hiking trails, camping facilities, fishing opportunities, and a variety of outdoor recreational activities.
- Jefferson National Forest: A significant portion of the Jefferson National Forest extends into Wise County. This vast forested area provides numerous opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing.
- Natural Tunnel State Park: Located near the town of Duffield, Natural Tunnel State Park features a stunning natural tunnel formation, which is one of the largest in the world. Visitors can explore the tunnel via walking trails, ride a chairlift to the top for panoramic views, enjoy camping, and partake in picnicking and swimming in the park's facilities.
- University of Virginia's College at Wise: The university campus itself is an attraction, featuring beautiful architecture and scenic surroundings. The college hosts various cultural events, including theater productions, musical performances, and art exhibitions, which are open to the public.
- Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park: Housed in a former mansion in Big Stone Gap, the Southwest Virginia Museum showcases the history and culture of the region. The museum exhibits artifacts, photographs, and displays that depict the coal mining heritage, early settlement, and the cultural diversity of Southwest Virginia.
- Spearhead Trails: Wise County is part of the Spearhead Trails system, a network of off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails. Adventure seekers can explore the rugged terrain on ATVs, dirt bikes, or side-by-sides while enjoying scenic views and thrilling rides.
- Lonesome Pine Raceway: Racing enthusiasts can visit Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn. This asphalt oval track hosts various stock car racing events, including Late Models, Modifieds, and Street Stocks, providing an exciting experience for motorsports fans.
These attractions in Wise County offer a mix of natural wonders, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and historical insights, making it an appealing destination for visitors seeking adventure, relaxation, and exploration.
Wise County experiences a humid subtropical climate, typical of the southeastern United States. Here are some key characteristics of the county's climate:
- Summers: Summers in Wise County are generally warm and humid. Average high temperatures range from the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (around 29-34 degrees Celsius), with occasional days reaching the upper 90s Fahrenheit (around 35-37 degrees Celsius). Summers also tend to be the wettest season, with regular rainfall and occasional thunderstorms.
- Winters: Winters in Wise County are cool to cold, but milder compared to more northern regions of Virginia. Average high temperatures during winter range from the mid-40s to mid-50s Fahrenheit (around 7-13 degrees Celsius), while overnight lows can drop into the 20s Fahrenheit (around -4 to -1 degree Celsius). Snowfall is common during the winter months, with an average annual snowfall of around 20-30 inches (50-76 cm).
- Spring and Autumn: Spring and autumn in Wise County are transitional seasons with moderate temperatures. In spring, temperatures gradually warm up, with average highs starting in the 60s Fahrenheit (around 15-20 degrees Celsius) and reaching the 70s Fahrenheit (around 21-26 degrees Celsius) by late spring. Autumn brings mild and pleasant weather with average highs ranging from the 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (around 15-23 degrees Celsius). These seasons typically see less precipitation compared to summer.
- Humidity: Humidity levels are relatively high throughout the year in Wise County due to its location in the Appalachian region. Summers can be particularly humid, with moisture in the air contributing to the muggy conditions.
It's important to note that these climate characteristics are generalizations, and weather patterns can vary from year to year. It's always a good idea to check local weather forecasts when planning a visit to Wise County or any other destination to get the most accurate and up-to-date information on current conditions.
- Topography: The county is characterized by its rugged and mountainous terrain. It is part of the Appalachian Mountains, with elevations ranging from around 1,500 feet (457 meters) to over 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) above sea level. The county is intersected by numerous ridges, valleys, and streams, offering scenic landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities.
- Appalachian Trail: A section of the famous Appalachian Trail, a long-distance hiking trail that stretches over 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from Georgia to Maine, passes through Wise County. Hikers can enjoy the natural beauty and challenges of the trail as they traverse the county.
- Clinch River: The Clinch River, one of the most biodiverse river systems in North America, flows through Wise County. It is a tributary of the Tennessee River and is known for its pristine waters, rich aquatic life, and scenic beauty. The river provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and other water-based activities.
- Natural Tunnel: Natural Tunnel State Park, located in Wise County, is home to a remarkable geologic feature known as Natural Tunnel. This tunnel, formed by the flow of Stock Creek, is approximately 850 feet (260 meters) long and 100 feet (30 meters) high. It attracts visitors who can explore the tunnel, take scenic walks, and enjoy the park's recreational amenities.
- Jefferson National Forest: A significant portion of Wise County is encompassed by the Jefferson National Forest. This forested area covers thousands of acres and offers opportunities for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. It is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including hardwood forests, mountain laurel, and various wildlife species.
- Breaks Interstate Park: Although partially located in Kentucky, Breaks Interstate Park also extends into Wise County. The park features the picturesque Russell Fork Gorge, known as the "Grand Canyon of the South." Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, picnicking, and other outdoor activities while admiring the scenic beauty of the gorge.
The geography of Wise County showcases the natural splendor and outdoor recreation possibilities of the Appalachian Mountains. Its mountains, rivers, and forests offer a wealth of opportunities for exploration, adventure, and appreciation of nature.