Including Atkins, Chilhowie, Marion, Saltville, and Whitetop

Smyth County


History of Saltville, Virginia

Saltville’s rich history is based on its natural and cultural resources. Millions of years ago, Saltville was a shallow inland salt-water sea. Massive quantities of salt settled to the bottom of the sea. As time passed, geological changes occurred resulting in continents separating, mountain ranges rising up, and other changing surface features. The salt that was deposited in the Saltville Valley formed veins of salt that run through the rock and form large salt caverns. Salt is the key natural resource that has shaped Saltville’s history.During the last Ice Age, 10-20 thousand years ago, the salt deposits in the Saltville Valley attracted animals such as Mastadons and Wooly Mammoths. Salt is a key element of animals’ and humans’ diets and the lake environment in Saltville was an ideal habitat for a wide range of mammals. Archeologists have found the remains of ice age animals and plants in the Saltville Valley – where the Saltville lake had been located.


Over time, well-established trails were created by the large number of animals that migrated in and out of the Saltville Valley. The trails offered easy corridors for humans to travel as they tracked herds of animals and looked for food. There is evidence of human occupation in the Saltville Valley from over 14,000 years ago. Clovis, from 10,000 years ago, has historically been the accepted date for earliest human arrival to North America. Research has shown that Saltville was home to “Clovis,” but was also home to Clovis’ ancestors. Points and arrowheads from these periods have been found in the Saltville area. There is also evidence that a large settlement, or village, existed in the Saltville valley during the Woodland Period, sometime between 1,500 BC and 1,500 AD. (Saltville, Virginia)

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

(276) 646-3306 • Toll Free 877-255-9928 •