“America’s Coolest Hometown”
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Town of Marion VA
The town is located in Smyth County in the Southwest Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. The town of Marion was named after the American Revolutionary War officer Francis Marion. This friendly and fun town between Wytheville and Abingdon offers moonshine, bluegrass music, BBQ, historic buildings, just to name few things to do.
History of Marion VA
In 1745 James Patton received a land grant that became Marion, Virginia. His representatives began surveying the area later to become Smyth County. The town of Marion and Highway 11, part of the Wilderness Road, passes right through the center of town where many frontiersman used to explore Southwest Virginia.
In the newly formed Smyth County in 1832, most settlers lived on farms in three valleys formed by the forks of the Holston River. Marion became the county seat of Smyth County. In 1835 Marion was recognized as town and officially incorporated in 1849. The town name was to honor the South Carolina hero of the American Revolutionary War, General Francis Marion. The, “Swamp Fox”, as he was called emerged after dark, attacked the British and quickly disappeared back into the swamps.
In 1856 the railroad was built along with the turnpike allowing for industrial growth with manufacturing, churches, general mercantile stores, , wheelright shops, tailors, taverns, schools, grist mills, and a barber shop.
During the Civil War, Marion was of great strategic importance because of the salt works preserves in Saltville, VA. Abijah Thomas’s iron furnace and the lead mines in nearby Austinville. The two major battles were fought over Saltville and a third major battle was fought in Marion. The salt works in Saltville were used to help preserve the meat, while the iron furnace in Marion made cannon, guns and sswords and the lead mines for bullets and cannon balls.
William H. “Bill” James of Marion sold a nationally successful soft drink in 1964 to the Pepisco corporation called “Mountain Dew”, at Marion’s Tip Bottling Company.
The town has had many prominent citizens throughout the years. Including Nolan Ryan who pitched for the Marion Mets minor league team before moving up to the major leagues. The town of Marion accepted tourism and is the gateway to Hungry Mother State Park which holds an annual Arts and Crafts Festival. Marion is also the headquarters for Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The town of Marion is home to the Lincoln Theatre, the nearby Jefferson National Forest, and the Appalachian Trail.