|Town of Wytheville, Virginia|
|— Town —|
|• Mayor||Trenton G. Crewe, Jr.|
|• Total||14.3 sq mi (37.0 km2)|
|• Land||14.3 sq mi (37.0 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||2,287 ft (697 m)|
|• Density||575/sq mi (221.9/km2)|
|U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1498537|
Wytheville (// WITH-vil) is a town in Wythe County, Virginia, United States. The population was 8,211 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Wythe County. The town is home to a Chautauqua Festival, held the third weekend in June every year since 1985. The Festival features live concerts, stage magic, arts and crafts, hot air ballooning, dance, children's activities and diverse carnival-style food. The Festival is held at Elizabeth Brown Memorial Park and is cosponsored by the county, town and the Wythe Arts Council.
Wytheville was named in honor of George Wythe, the "father of American Jurisprudence" and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Wytheville is also known for a handful of UFO sightings in the late 1980s and early 90's as documented on Unsolved Mysteries.
The local post office became the site of a hostage crisis on 23 December 2009, when a man named Warren Taylor entered pushing a wheelchair and claiming to be carrying explosives. Taylor took three hostages and fired several shots before negotiators convinced him to give himself up.
Wytheville is located at .(36.947679, −81.086955)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.3 sq mi (37.0 km2), of which 0.04 sq mi (0.1 km2) (0.14%) is water.
Wytheville is an important point on both I-77 and I-81 and lies amidst a wrong-way concurrency of I-77 and I-81. It is located about halfway between Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia and Roanoke. On the I-77 corridor, it is located about halfway between Charleston, West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina. The nearby community of Fort Chiswell is the control city for the northbound traffic on I-77 coming from Charlotte, Statesville, Elkin, and Mount Airy, North Carolina. In the near future, Interstate 74 will go through Wytheville in addition to the two other interstates.
Due to the confluence of I-77, I-81 and several U.S. Highways, and its location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wytheville is known as "The Hub of Southwest Virginia" and "the Crossroads of the Blue Ridge".
Due to its elevation, the climate of Wytheville is either classified as mountain temperate or humid continental (Köppen Cfb or Dfb, respectively), and the town straddles the border between USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6B and 7A. Summers are warm and humid, although significantly cooler than low-elevation places within the state, with only 4.6 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually, and winters are generally cool to cold with occasional intervening warm periods and 11 nights of sub-10 °F (−12 °C) lows. Monthly mean temperatures range from 30.7 °F (−0.7 °C) in January to 70.4 °F (21.3 °C) in July. Snowfall averages 20.5 inches (52 cm) per season and generally occurs from December to March.
|Climate data for Wytheville, Virginia, elev. 2,450 feet (746.8 m) (1981–2010 normals)|
|Average high °F (°C)||41.2
|Average low °F (°C)||20.2
|Precipitation inches (mm)||2.90
|Snowfall inches (cm)||6.7
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.2||9.8||10.8||11.3||12.8||11.8||11.7||10.2||9.2||8.6||9.1||10.0||125.5|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||3.6||2.9||1.3||0.5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.3||2.4||11.0|
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,804 people, 3,504 households, and 2,112 families residing in the town. The population density was 546.8 people per square mile (211.2/km²). There were 3,776 housing units at an average density of 264.6 per square mile (102.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.76% White, 7.19% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.
There were 3,504 households out of which 22.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.7% were non-families. 36.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.72.
In the town the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 22.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 78.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.2 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $28,043, and the median income for a family was $41,513. Males had a median income of $28,160 versus $21,282 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,223. About 10.0% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.5% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.
During the summer of 1950, poliomyelitis held Wytheville families paralyzed with fear. What started off as a few cases of infantile paralysis during the summer of 1950 swelled into the hundreds as an invisible menace terrified the people and dramatically affected this rural Appalachian community. Out of the 5, 513 inhabitants of this small Southwest Virginian town, 184 people contracted the disease with 17 fatalities. Because polio hit during the summer and primarily targeted children, many know this time in Wytheville as the “summer without children.” From the beginning of June until the end of August, parents forced children inside and large gatherings were cancelled to diminish the chance of infection from the polio epidemic raging through town. While some families promoted strict self-quarantine to save their children from the dreaded summer scourge, others fled town and risked spreading the disease throughout Southwest Virginia.
As the epidemic progressed, ambulances drove victims approximately 160 miles round-trip to Memorial Crippled Children’s Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. Hearses from Barnett’s and Porterfield-Minnick Funeral Homes were used when ambulances were unavailable. Driver’s made the trip two to three times per day throughout the summer. Four years prior to Brown v. Board of Education in the segregated South, Black patients with polio were repeatedly denied admission to Roanoke’s hospital despite local doctor’s attempts and were forced to make the approximately 600 mile round-trip drive to St. Philip’s Hospital in the state capital of Richmond.
In a gesture of goodwill, the Town Council erected billboards at all five entrances to the county warning potential visitors of the epidemic and urging tourists to come again the following year. Not everyone agreed with this action believing if visitors wished to stop, shop, and stay in Wytheville it was their own decision. By the end of the summer, unknown assailants stole or demolished all five billboards. Though the Town Council offered a reward for information, no one came forward.
Places of interest
- The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation. Edith Bolling Wilson has been referred to as "The Secret President" and "The First Woman President" because she was seen as assuming many governmental duties after President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919.
- Big Walker Lookout Tower. Just 12 miles to the north of Wytheville, the 100-foot observation tower looks out over two tunnels and miles of surrounding area. (official website)
- Wytheville Farmers Market. The Wytheville Farmers Market offers locally grown fresh produce, meats, honey, eggs, flowers & herbs, and baked goods on Saturdays between 9 am - 1 pm May through October. The farmers market is located on Main Street downtown and is quickly becoming a social gathering place Saturday mornings and holds a variety of free events throughout the season.
- The George Wythe Hotel. The George Wythe Hotel is located in historic downtown Wytheville, VA and is currently under redevelopment as a 30 room boutique hotel.
- Wytheville Office Supply has a 30-foot metal pencil as a sign, which is considered a local landmark.
- [Skeeter's "World Famous Hotdogs"] has served up more that 9 million hotdogs. Notable customers include The Statler Brothers, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Ethel Kennedy.
- Edith Bolling Galt Wilson-- Second wife of President Woodrow Wilson
- David French Boyd
- William Gibson-- spent much of his childhood there
- James Walker-- Lt. Governor of VA; Confederate General
- E. Lee Trinkle-- Governor of VA
- Frederick Bittle Kegley Wythe County historian
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Fussell, pg. 92
- "Post office hostage drama in US state of Virginia ends". BBC. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Station Name: VA WYTHEVILLE 1 S". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
- U.S. Department of Commerce, “Characteristics of the Population,” Census of Population: 1950, vol. 2, part 46 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953); J. Robert Anderson, ed., Virginia Health Bulletin 3, no. 12, series 2 (Richmond, VA: Virginia State Department of Health, April 1951); Albert Q. Maisel, “Wytheville’s Message: Don’t Be Afraid of Polio,” Look Magazine 15, no. 14 (July 3, 1951): 67-74.
- Linda Logan, A Summer Without Children: An Oral History of Wythe County, Virginia’s 1950 Polio Epidemic (Wytheville, VA: Town of Wytheville Department of Museums, 2005)
- “$100 Reward Says Council, Conviction of Person, Persons Tearing Down Signs,” Southwest Virginia Enterprise, August 1, 1950; Thomas J. Boyd Museum, Wytheville, Virginia; Logan, A Summer Without Children (Town of Wytheville Department of Museums, 2005); Polio Oral History Transcript Collection, Wytheville Department of Museums, Wytheville, Virginia.
- Fussell, Fred C. (2003). Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle. North Carolina Folklife Institute. 080785459X.
- Visit Wytheville (Visitor's guide, history, and other resources)