There’s only one Wytheville (pronounced WITH-vill). You can search all over the world but you will not find another town with the name of Wytheville. In addition to the unique name, there are lots of special things to do in Wytheville VA, a charming small town in Southwest Virginia.
Majestic mountains, rolling hills, lush forests, sparkling lakes, small-town charm, rich history, and diverse culinary experiences all keep visitors coming back for more. The location close to the Blue Ridge Mountains is popular with visitors who desire to escape the heat of the deeper south for the cool, fresh mountain air.
Wythe County was created in 1789 and named for George Wythe, a respected Virginia lawyer, the “father of American Jurisprudence,” and signer of the Declaration of Independence. During the American Civil War, Wytheville had strategic importance. It was attacked in 1863 (Toland’s Raid) and 1865 (Stoneman’s 1865 Raid).
Wytheville is the birthplace of Edith Bolling Wilson, second wife of President Woodrow Wilson. The town has not been immune to tragedy. Two noteworthy fires, in 1839 and 1924, destroyed large portions of the downtown. In the summer of 1950, the community gained unwelcomed national recognition as having the highest per capita outbreak of polio. The community’s resilience and spirit in dealing with the epidemic left a lasting impression for generations to come.
Thomas Jefferson Boyd’s home in Wytheville opened as a museum in 1983. Nicknamed the “father of Wytheville,” he was the town’s mayor, surveyor, lawyer, hotel builder, and member of the Virginia legislature. Boyd’s namesake museum is the go-to place to study local history.
Highlights of the Boyd Museum include the town’s first fire truck, artifacts from the mining industry, documentation as the only Civil War battle to happen in this town, an old telephone operator’s station, and a wing dedicated to the gruesome history of the 1950s polio outbreak.
Overlooking the New River, and looking more like a fortress than a factory, the Shot Tower was built more than 200 years ago by local businessman Tomas Jackson. Completed in 1807, the tower was used to make ammunition for the firearms of the early settlers. Shot Tower is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lead from the nearby Austinville Mines was melted in a kettle atop the 75-foot tower and poured through a sieve, dropping 75 feet down through a shaft into a kettle of water. Guests can climb the tower; however, please check ahead as temporary COVID closings have been initiated.