Including Atkins, Chilhowie, Marion, Saltville, and Whitetop

Smyth County

VIRGINIA

Back of the Dragon team plans event, new center. Courtesy of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Kaitlyn Baker Project Update

    Over the past several months the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority has worked with Pound native Kaitlyn Baker, an up and coming artist in Nashville, to create a song and music video highlighting the assets and heritage of our beautiful region.

NEW! Southwest Virginia TRAILS brochure. MAPS, PHOTOS and DESCRIPTIONS of

12 Southwest Virginia Hiking, Biking and Horseback Riding Trails! Click here to view online. FREE GUIDES available on request.

Southeastern Traveler

Travel Photography and Blog by Jason Barnette

Great article on Marion from Jason Barnette!

Online

Visitor Guide

Events at Hungry Mother State Park for Earth Day

Saturday, April 22, 2017

 

Bird Walk 9:00 am

(Every Saturday in April)

Join them and Master Naturalist, Randy Smith to celebrate the beginning of spring with a bird walk throughout the park. Bringing along field guides and binoculars is encouraged. FREE

 

Wild About Wildflowers 11:00 am

Enjoy a walk with Master Naturalist Melanie Smith and discover the various wildflowers in bloom during the spring season! Bring along your camera to capture all of the spring beauty. Meet at the Boat Ramp Area off Mitchell Valley Road. FREE

 

Wild Harvest 1:00 pm

Have you ever wondered if a plant or flower had any medicinal uses or if it is edible? Carrie Sparks, Master Naturalist, will guide us on a hike pointing out different plants and their significance along the way. Bring water and wear comfortable shoes. Meet at the Spillway Parking Lot. FREE

 

Find Your Tree Hike 4:00 pm

Arborist, Kevin Sigmon will be discussing a few tips and tricks for identifying trees. Later, join him on a short hike to see the diversity of trees at Hungry Mother to find your favorite tree. Meet at the Restaurant. FREE

 

Assault on Molly's Knob: 5K Plus Hungry Mother State Park

Saturday, April 22, 2017 8:00 am

 

This is not your average, flat 5K run. This trail offers much more of a challenge because of the 1,000 plus feet elevation gain in the first 1.7 miles! The course is approximately 3.4 miles long so it is longer than most 5K runs. It begins at the Molly's Knob trail head and goes to the summit and back down again. If this is not enough of a challenge for you, we are also hosting a 25K and a 50K on the same day! The view from the top is worth it! This event is hosted by the Smyth County Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please click HERE or contact us at info@smythchamber.org or (276) 783-3161.

 

Kiwanis Presents Phantom Lincoln Theatre

Saturday, April 22, 2017 7:00 pm

 

PHANTOM is a regionally popular band whose energetic and authentic renderings of classic rock and roll have made them a crowd pleaser. The "good old days" of peace, love, and rock n' roll come alive again when PHANTOM  hits the stage. You will be grooving in your seat to classics by Roy Orbison, Bee Gees, Beatles,  Mellencamp, Clapton  and more tunes of 60's, 70's, and 80's. In the words of one of group's favorite songs, "Get those old records off the shelf" and join us for an evening of fun at Lincoln Theater. $15 general admission

 

Erase the Dace Hungry Mother State Park

 Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 10:00 am

 

Join wildlife biologist and professor at VHCC Kevin Hamed, fish biologist Mike Pender from the Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries and District Resource Specialist Jordan Blevins for a unique opportunity. Learn what detrimental effects of the Dace, a small, invasive fish that inhabits the creeks at the park and assist with the removal of this species. This program is a free volunteer opportunity. Wear clothes and shoes you don't mind getting dirty and wet. Call 276-781-7400 for more info.

 

The Everly Brothers Experience Lincoln Theatre

 Saturday, April 29, 2017 7:00 pm

 

In January of 2016, brothers Zachary and Dylan Zmed (acoustic guitars/vocals) and their partner (drummer in the group and son of founding members of ambrosia) Burleigh Drummond began developing the Everly Brothers experience show.  Since then they have celebrated the pivotal sounds of the Everly Brothers music with enthusiastic crowds all across the US and over seas in iconic clubs, theaters, performing arts centers, casinos, ballrooms, and coliseums. the Zmeds say, "Our aim is to honor the aesthetics of their iconic sound and honor their unique place in music history all while telling our own personal story," $20 Adults/ $15 Students

 

Smooth Flo EP Release Concert Riverbend Amphitheater

Saturday, April 29, 2017 6:00 pm

 

In celebration of their newest album release, Smooth Flo - a local Gospel rap group - will be performing LIVE at Riverbend Amphitheater in Marion on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 6pm. The event is FREE and everyone is encouraged to grab a lawn chair or blanket and come out to Riverbend Park and enjoy local music! With special guests Lael, Freedom Worship, Robbie Hale, Hannah Livingston, Rn Wolfe.

 

Song of the Mountains The Lincoln Theatre

Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 7:00 pm

The May taping of Song of the Mountains featuring Hackensaw Boys, Clay Bank, Wilson Banjo Co. and more TBA.

 

Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm

The June taping of Song of the Mountains featuring Salt & Light, and more TBA

Marion Downtown & Marion Police Department to Host

Third Annual Blue Line 5k Run/Walk and Gear Challenge

 

What better way to celebrate National Police Week than to participate in a local 5k run/walk and gear challenge!

 

For the third year in a row, Marion Downtown and Marion Police Department are partnering together to raise awareness and support of our local law enforcement agencies. The annual event is set to take place Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 8am in downtown Marion.

 

Everyone is encouraged to come out and participate in the event by showing their support for Law Enforcement Officers - active, retired and fallen. To show support, folks are encouraged to run/walk for an officer. Each participant will have a badge that will include there officers name written on it. If someone wants to run for a specific person(s), they are encouraged to do so by specifying the individuals name when registering for the race.

 

This year's proceeds will go to help all our local agencies - our goal is to raise enough funding to help purchase items in need for children (children fingerprint ID cards, etc). "We want help the local officers - Marion PD, Chilhowie PD, Saltville PD, Smyth County Sheriff's Office, as well as state agencies including VSP and HMSP Law Enforcement," said Olivia McDonald, event coordinator. "I'd love to be able to provide everything they could ever need to do their job, but after receiving several suggestions on where to donate the money to, we decided it would be most beneficial to give back and help children," she added.

 

In addition, anyone who registers will be asked to donate a non-perishable item (case of bottled water, Cliff Bars, etc). McDonald plans on dividing up the donations and sending to all agencies in Smyth County to be used in case of emergencies.

 

The race will take place in front of the historic Smyth County Court House in downtown Marion and end at Holston Hills Community Golf Course. Registration for the race starts at 7:00am in front of the Court House Steps. The race will begin promptly at 8:00am, where participants will then make their way to the Golf Course. First, second and third place men, women and kids winners will receive metals as well as a gift certificate to one of the many great restaurants in downtown Marion. Shuttles will be available for participants to ride back to downtown once the race is completed. Participants are encouraged to enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many local restaurants downtown after the race. Selected restaurants will have discounted prices available for Law Enforcement Officers who participate in the event!

 

In addition, participants will be able to compete in a "Dummy Drag" immediately following the race. Ever wonder how difficult it is to drag 150-170 lbs of dead weight? That's what a dummy drag consists of. Officers are required to do so during training, and it isn't as easy as it looks. Participants are encouraged to see how fast they can drag a fake body 30 yards across the grass. The person with the fastest time will receive an additional prize.

 

And that's not all! Officers are encouraged to participate in a gear challenge during the 5k race. As if running a 5k isn't difficult enough, Law Enforcement Officers are encouraged to run in full uniform, duty belt and all. That's an additional 20+ lbs of weight, and the officer who completes the 5k race in the shortest amount of time will receive a metal and prize!

 

Anyone who registers before May 1st will receive a BL5k t-shirt!

 

For questions or if you want to register for the event, contact Olivia McDonald at (276)783-4190 or email omcdonald@marionva.org

 

You can also register online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blue-line-5k-runwalk-and-gear-challenge-tickets-33020432001?aff=es2 (online fee rates apply).

 

Admission for the race is as follows:

General Admission (Ages 13+) - $25.00

Police Officer Admission - $10.00

Children Admission (Ages 12 and under) - $10.00

Trips close to home: Marion, Va.,
called ‘America’s coolest hometown’
By Clayton Hensley, Special to the News Sentinel

 

Every Saturday night, thousands of people in East Tennessee and across the country tune in to "Song of the Mountains" on PBS. The showcase of old time Americana and bluegrass music originates from a historic theater along Main Street in Marion, Va.

 

The Lincoln is one of only a handful of Art Deco Mayan Revival theaters still operating in the United States. It opened in 1929 as a movie theater and then closed twice in the 1970s. In 2004 the Lincoln reopened following a $1.8 million renovation.

 

This Main Street Marion treasure blends art inspired from an ancient culture with the history of the state of Virginia. This is probably the only place to see Mayan figures and artwork surrounding larger-than-life portraits of Daniel Boone and Gen. Robert E. Lee. The juxtaposition of the artwork provides the perfect setting for performances as well as lessons in history. The historic murals were originally painted at a cost of $50 each, but it took $20,000 each to restore them.

 

Behind the stage is a wall made of dark bricks, a sharp contrast to the multiple shades of gold throughout the theater. Because there is an alley on the other side of the wall, the stage can't be expanded, and it is more suited to musical acts than theatrical productions. From the stage you can look into the rows of the balcony. Looking closely, you will notice a wall dividing the last couple of rows from the rest. During the renovations, the division was left as a reminder of the era of segregated seating.

 

The Lincoln Theater's neighbor, the General Francis Marion Inn, provides guests with a mix of elegance and history while they spend the night. The Speakeasy Gastropub inside the hotel serves up creations like Fried Green Tomato BLTs and Sweet Tea Chicken. It's just one place to grab a bite to eat before a show at the Lincoln. Wolf's BBQ, Macado's (a regional chain) and the Wooden Pickle are all part of an expanding menu of options in this small Virginia town. You can even lift your spirits with a visit to the Appalachian Mountain Spirits Mercantile & Stillhouse Store on Main Street. In the back, visitors of legal drinking age can sample the company's award-winning Virginia Sweetwater Moonshine and War Horn Whisky.

 

While there are many dining options downtown, folks heading out on U.S. 11 will find a real taste of Marion tradition. The Dip Dog stand opened in 1957. A few years later, Interstate 81 was finished and traffic by the stand dropped dramatically. However, the unique version of corn dogs served there remained a local favorite, and the Dip Dog stand is still going strong. In addition to its spin on the corn dog, this greasy spoon offers mouth-watering onion rings and a wide variety of items you would come to expect from a drive-in restaurant.

 

Marion is also home to a drive-in movie theater. The Park Place Drive-in shows first run movies and offers guests rounds of mini-golf. You can also immerse yourself in art, antiques and local crafts at the Herb House on Pendleton Street.

 

The crowning jewel of the area lies just a few miles out of town on state Highway 16. Just before the road winds its way through the mountains, the sparkling waters of the lake at Hungry Mother State Park come into view. A white sandy beach stretches out along the shores of the lake. In the summer months, thousands of people head to this "beach" to enjoy the cool waters of this mountain lake. Fishermen and kayakers also come to the park, which offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation and plenty of amazing views.

 

The name for the park comes from the legend of Molly Marley, an early settler in the region who was taken by Native Americans who ravaged the frontier settlements. Marley was said to have escaped with her child. After collapsing, Molly's child apparently wandered down the mountain looking for help, only being able to tell the people he found the words "Hungry Mother."

 

Today, the mountain where the legend unfolded is called Molly's Knob. The hike to the top can be a grueling one but offers the reward of a stunning view of the rugged landscape surrounding the park. Just beyond the state park is one of the most popular stretches of road for motorcycle riders. Called "The Back of the Dragon," this 32-mile stretch of road boasts 260 curves and elevations up to 3,500 feet.

 

Stepping back in time is easy to do in this part of Southwest Virginia. In fact, one town boasts that it has been preserving history for more than 10,000 years. Coming into the town of Saltville from I-81, there is an overlook along Highway 107. The town of about 2,000 stretches along the valley floor where the Saltville River flowed for thousands of years. Eventually, the river backed up, creating a lake and later a marshy area that provided perfect conditions for preserving plant and animal remains. Remnants of the lake and marsh are still clearly visible from the overlook.

 

Today at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians in downtown Saltville, visitors get a chance to see what's been unearthed along with a detailed history of life in the valley. The prizes of the collection are a mastodon skeleton and a woolly mammoth skull and tusks. Both animals roamed the valley floor in the days when the Saltville River flowed. The water and the ground around it were filled with abundant amounts of salt, which attracted a wide variety of animals, and later those deposits of salt would help fuel an army and the industrial revolution.

 

During the Civil War, the salt deposits helped cement the town's status as the salt capital of the Confederacy. Later, the salt below the soil became a key ingredient the Olin Company's production of chemicals used to make fuel for the Air Force and the U.S. Space program. The Olin Company built homes, schools and stores for workers and Saltville became a company town, much like its coal country counterparts. Gypsum mining also became an important part of Saltville's economy. The mine was one of the deepest of its kind in the country. The mine and the chemical factory are both gone, but Saltville continues to use its historic assets to bring people into town.

 

While not as well known as its neighbor Abingdon, Marion and the surrounding area is filled with surprises. Marion recently received a top honor from a national marketing firm, which named it "America's Coolest Hometown." It's an image the town seems to be happy with adopting as Marion welcomes people not only to Main Street, but the surrounding area filled with more than 10,000 years of history.

 

 

Regional Visitor Center • 408 Whitetop Road • Chilhowie, VA 24319 • I-81, Exit 35

(276) 646-3306 • Toll Free 877-255-9928 • ron@visitvirginiamountains.com