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Wythe County, Virginia facts for kids

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Wythe County
Wythe County Courthouse in Wytheville
Wythe County Courthouse in Wytheville
Official seal of Wythe County
Seal
Map of Virginia highlighting Wythe County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1790
Named for George Wythe
Seat Wytheville
Largest town Wytheville
Area
 • Total 465 sq mi (1,200 km2)
 • Land 462 sq mi (1,200 km2)
 • Water 2.8 sq mi (7 km2)  0.6%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 28,290
 • Density 60.84/sq mi (23.490/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 9th

Wythe County is a county located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 28,290. Its county seat is Wytheville.

History

Wythe County was formed from Montgomery County in 1790. It was named after George Wythe, the first Virginian signer of the Declaration of Independence. During the Civil War the Battle of Cove Mountain was fought in the county.

Prior to Wythe County's creation, what is now the Wythe County community of Austinville served as the county seat for Fincastle County, an extinct Virginia county whose borders stretched from Roanoke, Virginia, to the Mississippi River – a county roughly the size of half the State of Texas.

Wythe County's Austinville community, which was founded by Stephen and his brother Moses Austin, father of the famous Stephen F. Austin. In the 1790s the Austins took over the mines that produced lead and zinc; the town was named for the Austin surname, and not for any one particular Austin of the brothers who bore that surname. Lead was mined and shipped throughout the fledgling country; lead shot was also produced. Located near Fosters Falls, Jackson Ferry Shot Tower still stands as a testament to the citizens of Wythe County. Lead was hoisted to the top of the tower using block and tackle and oxen. The lead was melted in a retort and then poured through a sieve at the top of the tower. The droplets of molten lead would become round during the 150-foot descent. The shot would collect in a kettle of water and slave laborers would enter through a 110-foot access tunnel located near the bank of the New River to retrieve the shot from the kettle.

The lead mines closed in 1982 due to new United States Environmental Protection Agency standards and the lack of a market for lead. The mines have since filled with water; the main shaft extended in excess of 1100 feet straight down.

Another notable area within the county is the unincorporated community of Fort Chiswell - named for a French and Indian War era fort. The fort and its surrounding buildings served as the county seat until the incorporated town of Wytheville was established approximately 10 miles to the west. The fort fell into disrepair and its ruins were covered over when the intersection of I-77 and I-81 was constructed in the 1970s. A pyramid marker now stands in the approximate location of the former fort. The community was named for Colonel John Chiswell who helped establish the lead mines (1757) prior to the Austin's purchase.

Wythe County's location, at the confluence of I-81 and I-77 which is, incidentally, a wrong-way concurrency, has led to its growth for industry and tourism. Recently Gatorade and Pepsi manufacturing facilities have located here, primarily due to the ease of access and central location along the Eastern seabord. There are a variety of travel-related businesses including several hundred hotel rooms, several truck stops, and restaurants located in the county. Tourism takes a variety of different forms in Wythe County. There are numerous opportunities for those that enjoy outdoor activities including a variety of trails, campgrounds, and parks in the area. Its first winery opened in 2006 and a second opened in 2007. A dinner theatre is located in the county seat, Wytheville.

WytheCoCourthouse
Wythe County Courthouse front facade

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 465 square miles (1,200 km2), of which, 462 square miles (1,200 km2) of it is land and 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2) (0.6%) is water. The county is intersected by the New River. The land is mostly an elevated plateau, lying between Iron Mountain on the south and Walker's Mountain on the northwest. The soil is generally fertile. Iron ore, lead, bituminous coal, limestone, and gypsum are very abundant, and there are traces of silver found in the lead mines.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

  • Jefferson National Forest (part)
  • Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (part)

Major highways

  • I-74 (future)
  • I-77
  • I-81
  • US 11
  • US 21
  • US 52
  • SR 69
  • SR 90
  • SR 94
  • SR 100
  • SR 121

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 6,380
1810 8,356 31.0%
1820 9,692 16.0%
1830 12,163 25.5%
1840 9,375 −22.9%
1850 12,024 28.3%
1860 12,305 2.3%
1870 11,611 −5.6%
1880 14,318 23.3%
1890 18,019 25.8%
1900 20,437 13.4%
1910 20,372 −0.3%
1920 20,217 −0.8%
1930 20,704 2.4%
1940 22,721 9.7%
1950 23,327 2.7%
1960 21,975 −5.8%
1970 22,139 0.7%
1980 25,522 15.3%
1990 25,466 −0.2%
2000 27,599 8.4%
2010 29,235 5.9%
2020 28,290 −3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010 2020

2020 census

Wythe County, Virginia - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 27,649 28,290 94.57% 92.20%
Black or African American alone (NH) 809 699 2.77% 2.47%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 39 54 0.13% 0.19%
Asian alone (NH) 124 118 0.42% 0.42%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 3 2 0.01% 0.01%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 13 66 0.04% 0.23%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 318 914 1.09% 3.23%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 280 355 0.96% 1.25%
Total 29,235 28,290 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

Communities

Towns

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Education

Colleges

  • Breckbill Bible College, Grahams Forge
  • Blueridge College of Evangelism, Wytheville
  • Wytheville Community College, Wytheville

Public high schools

Private schools

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Wythe para niños

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African-American Women in Medicine:
Mary Eliza Mahoney
Susie King Taylor
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Eliza Ann Grier
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