ABINGDON is your GATEWAY to SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

11/23/2014
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

The site of present-day Abingdon is located on a well-traveled wilderness route called the “Great Road,” which many pioneers traveled through the Blue Ridge Mountains on the way to settle the new American frontier. In 1748-1750, the land was surveyed by Dr. Thomas Walker, who would later be partners with Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson in the Loyal Land Company. The area was named Wolf Hills by Daniel Boone in 1860 after his dogs were attacked by a pack of wolves.

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The Town of Abingdon was established by an act of the Assembly of Virginia in 1778. Two short years later, Abingdon played a role in helping the young nation gain its independence. Patriots from Virginia and North Carolina gathered at the Muster Grounds to begin a 300 mile march to Kings Mountain, South Carolina. The ensuing battle was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

In 1860, Martha Washington College opened in a former private residence in Abingdon. The college closed in 1932, but the grand building affectionately known as “The Martha” re-opened as a hotel in 1935.

In Abingdon, history is not confined to select sites and preserved buildings.

It’s all around. When you look at the mountains surrounding the town, you think of Daniel Boone walking through the woods or early American pioneers traveling the Great Road across the Blue Ridge Mountains to settle the new frontier.

When you stroll down Main Street, you think about the Civil War soldiers involved in nearby battles who were treated by nurses on the grounds of what is now the elegant Martha Washington Hotel.

History Comes Alive in Abingdon

  • Abingdon Historic District
  • Abingdon Spirit Tours
    call 276-706-6093
  • Fairview Historic Homestead call 276-628-3167
  • The Hagy House
  • Fields-Penn 1860 House Museum
    call 276-676-0216
  • Historical Society of Washington County, Va. call 276-623-8337
  • Keller Interpretive Center
    276-525-1050
  • Abingdon Muster Grounds — The Keller Interpretive Center is located within the nine acre Muster Grounds and is the premier center for Colonial backcountry history from the American Revolutionary period in Southwest Virginia.
  • Old Mollie Steam Engine — Norfolk & Western Steam Engine 433
  • Overmountain Victory Trail— 276-628-3167
    The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail travels through Va,, Tenn., N.C. and S.C., retracing the route of patriot militia as they tracked down the British. Eventually the two forces clashed, ending in the patriot victory at the battle of Kings Mountain.
  • Retirement (second oldest brick house in Abingdon) — call 276-628-3167
    The exact date of the homes construction is unknown but reports state that it was built between 1776-1813. The original structure was built by Captain Robert Craig.
  • Sinking Spring Cemetery

Fun Facts about Abingdon:

The town was given its original name of Wolf Hills by the legendary Daniel Boone.

Abingdon is one of the oldest English-speaking settlements west of the Blue Ridge, founded in 1778.

Some Hollywood luminaries have graced the stage at Barter Theatre, including Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine and many others. Visit the Barter Theatre lobby to see photos of these famous alumni.

Abingdon’s oldest building is The Tavern Restaurant, which has been serving patrons since 1779.

The Crooked Road — Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail passes through Abingdon, highlighting the region’s role in the growth of traditional Appalachian music.

Make Abingdon your hub as you explore the back roads of southwest Virginia.

Southwest Virginia is filled with magical sights and sounds. The winding country roads and rugged, unspoiled scenery offer unforgettable scenic drives by automobile or motorcycle. Amid the beauty of the mountains are several picturesque small towns, each with a unique personality and history.

While the forests may be teeming with wildlife and the rivers abundant with trophy fish, the hills are certainly alive with the sound of music. Southwest Virginia is the birthplace of traditional mountain music. The Ralph Stanley Museum and Carter Family Fold are among the dozens of sites worth seeing along The Crooked Road – Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

Whether your class is headed out to explore the history, trails, towns or back roads of southwest Virginia, Abingdon is the perfect place to begin and end your day. Enjoy great accommodations, delicious food and fun-filled learning opportunities.

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Issue 19.1 | Summer 2017

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