Wise County, Virginia
|Wise County, Virginia|
Wise County Courthouse
Location in the state of Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Henry A. Wise|
|Largest city||Big Stone Gap|
405 sq mi (1,050 km²)
404 sq mi (1,047 km²)
1 sq mi (3 km²), 0.29%
99.1/sq mi (38.2/km²)
|Time zone||Eastern : -5/|
Wise County is a county located in the U.S. state of Virginia. In 1856, the county was formed from land taken from Lee, Scott, and Russell Counties. It was named after Henry A. Wise, who was the Governor of Virginia at the time. As of 2010, the population was 41,452, making it the largest jurisdiction in terms of population outside of any metropolitan area in Virginia. Its county seat is Wise.
The Cherokee conquered the area including Wise from the Xualae between 1671 and 1685. It was later contested by the Six Nations and the Shawnee. A Cherokee hunting party fought a protracted battle with a Shawnee one at the headwaters of the Clinch river for two days in the summer of 1786, a victory for the Cherokee although losses were heavy on both sides.
The first white explorers to have reached present-day Wise county are said to have been Thomas Walker and Christopher Gist, both in 1750. Several forts were built all along the Clinch from 1774 onward, but only after Chickamauga Cherokee leader Bob Benge was slain in 1794 was present-day Wise considered safe for white settlers even to hunt in. Among the earliest settlers within the county was William Wells in around 1792.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 405 square miles (1,050 km²), of which 404 square miles (1,046 km²) is land and 1 square mile (3 km²) (0.29%) is water. The county is part of the Appalachians and has many mountainous features, including the peak of High Knob and Powell Valley.
Adjacent counties and cities
- Letcher County, Kentucky - northwest
- Pike County, Kentucky - north
- Dickenson County - northeast
- Russell County - east
- Scott County - south
- Lee County - southwest
- Harlan County, Kentucky - west
- Norton, Virginia – enclaved within the county
National protected area
- Jefferson National Forest (part)
As of the census of 2010, there were 41,452 people, 15,968 households, and 10,892 families residing in the county. The population density was 102.8 people per square mile (38/km²). There were 17,940 housing units at an average density of 44 per square mile (17/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93% White, 5.2% Black or African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, and 0.90% from two or more races. 1.10% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,968 households out of which 31.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50,30% were married couples living together, 12.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 27.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.80% under the age of 18 and 14.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 107 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.08 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,053. The per capita income for the county was $17,512. About 19.30% of the population were below the poverty line. The homeownership rate for the county is 70.00%
Cities and towns
- Big Stone Gap
- St. Paul
- The independent city of Norton lies within the confines of Wise County, but is not a part of the county.
Wise County Public Schools operates seventeen school facilities in the county for over 7,000 students. For several years the Wise County School Board has considered consolidating high school, and in 2011 it closed its three smallest high schools and consolidate them into the three largest high schools.
Wise County Christian School operates as a private school in the county.
Colleges and universities
- The Clinch Valley Times is a weekly newspaper serving Castlewood and St. Paul, Virginia, and the surrounding areas.
- The Coalfield Progress  is a twice-weekly newspaper covering news through the county.
- The Post also at  is a weekly newspaper serving Big Stone Gap, Virginia and the surrounding areas.
Natural and Outdoor Recreation
A large portion of the Jefferson National Forest is contained within Wise County, and the Clinch River winds through the county. These two factors, combined with Wise County's location in the Appalachian Mountains, mean that Wise County offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.
In addition to many trails connecting to and surrounding the Appalachian Trail system, Wise county is home to many parks, including Miners' Park in Big Stone Gap and the Louis E. Henegar Miners' Memorial Park in Appalachia.
Among the unique features of Wise County are High Knob, a mountain which featured one of the last remaining Appalachian Fire Towers until its destruction by arson on October 31, 2007, and Wetlands Estonoa, an Appalachian Wetland and part of the Clinch River Watershed.
Theater and the Arts
- The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama is performed in Big Stone Gap, Virginia throughout the summer. It is the Commonwealth of Virginia's official outdoor drama.
- The Pro-Art Association offers a variety of theatrical, musical, and fine-arts events throughout the school year. It is headquartered in Wise.
- The Wise County Summer Academy of Art, sponsored by Wise County Public Schools and funded in part by the Virginia Commission of Arts, provides fine arts programming for children throughout the summer months, including large scale productions and touring performance opportunities.
- The Appalachian Children's Theater (ACT) promotes performing arts and fine arts education for children in Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Northeast Tennessee. In 2006, the organization opened its newly renovated facility in Downtown Wise. 
- The Charles W. Harris Art Gallery is located on the site of the Wise County Public Library in Wise.
Festivals and Fairs
- Clinch River Days takes place in St. Paul each spring. 
- The Virginia-Kentucky District Fair is held each summer in Wise.
- The Wise County Famous Fall Fling is an annual event held in Downtown Wise. 
- Coeburn holds its annual Guest River Rally over the Labor Day weekend in September.
- Appalachia Coal Railroad Days is held each summer in Appalachia.
- Pound Heritage Days is held annually the week before Labor Day in Pound.
- Dock Boggs Oldtime Music Festival held the second weekend in September at the Country Cabin in Norton, Virginia
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Wise County, Virginia
- Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park
- Wise County Courthouse
- High Knob Lookout Tower
- Colonial Hotel
- E. M. Fulton House
- Lonesome Pine Raceway
- Virginia Population Estimates. Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Luther Foster Addison, 1988, The Story of Wise County p. 1-26
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- School Information
- Spark It Up!!!: High Knob Tower Burns
- Wise County, Virginia's Official Website
- Interactive Geographic Information System
- Wise County Church History DataBase
- A guide to Outdoor Recreation in Southwest Virginia
||Letcher County, Kentucky||Pike County, Kentucky||Dickenson County|
|Harlan County, Kentucky||Russell County|
|Lee County||Scott County|