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Historical Society of Southwest Virginia
 Scott County, Virginia

Hagan Hall

Home of Joseph and Patrick Hagan
Emigrees from Ireland

Old photo of Scott Co Courthouse
Gate City VA

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The territory that is now Scott County was the hunting grounds, camps of the Indians. Osborne's Ford near Dungannon has yielded up evidence of the early life of the American Indians. This Indian village once stood on the south bank of the Clinch River near the mouth of Stony Creek.

Long Hunters, fur traders and early exploriers soon found the frontier that is now Scott County. There was an abundance of virgin timbers, wild game aplenty and undeveloped land for the bold and adventureous of the pioneers.

Forts were soon established for protection against Indians. The Blockhouse, built sometime before 1782 and situated about 4 miles southeast of Big Moccasin Gap at the meeting point of the pioneer roads from Virginia and North Carolina, was one of the most widely known places on the Wilderness Road. It was possibly the only blockhouse in the county, the other forts being log cabins and stockades.

Blackmore's Fort, a famous early fort, was situated on an ancient elevated flood plain on the north side of the Clinch River opposite the mouth of Rock Branch. For many years, this fort was on the extreme frontier of Virginia and was used by hunters, explorers, adventurers, and home seekers for rest and refreshment. Daniel Boone was in command of Fort Blackmore and other forts on the Clinch River in 1774 while the militiamen were engaged in the Point Pleasant campaign of Dunmore's war.

Many other forts were built in the early days. In Rye Cove, Crisman's fort was built in 1776 and Carter's Fort in 1784. Porter's Fort was built on Fall Creek in 1775. Fort Houston was built probably soon after 1774 on Big Moccasin Creek near the present Russell County line and was a place of safety for the earliest settlers in that valley. Dorton's Fort, built 1 mile southwest of Nickelsville about 1790, was not so exposed to Indian attacks as the forts built earlier.

Big Moccasin Gap, a breach in the hard rocks of Clinch River, is perhaps the most important natural feature in the county, for in it centered much of the early history and development. Through the gap, Daniel Boone and his companions carved the Wilderness Road to Kentucky in 1775 and through it thousands of pioneer settlers passed on their way to Kentucky and the Middle West. Most of the goods used by the people who lived north of the Clinch River were hauled through the gap before the coming of the railroad. The first railroad in the county was built through big Moccasin Gap, and most of the main highways now lead toward it.

Thomas McCulloch, the first settler, located in 1769 on Big Moccasin Creek near Fort Houston. From 1769 to 1782, many people came to live in what is now Scott County, and settlements increased until they reached nearly all sections. In 1790, strongly-built houses began to take the place of forts; and one of these, the Old Kilgore Fort House, about 2 miles west of Nickelsville, is still standing. It is probably the oldest house in the county. Convenience to water was one of the main considerations in the selection of home sites, and most of the early homes were located on low land.

The early settlers were mainly Scotch-Irish, though some were of English descent. The earlier settlers into Scott County came from Pennsylvania, eastern Virginia, from Augusta County, Virginia, from the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, and from the British Isles. Some of the thousands who traveled the old Wilderness road on their way westward grew weary of traveling, turned aside, and settled in the Scott County territory. A string of log cabins soon lined the Wilderness Road from the Blockhouse to Cain Gap in Powell Mountain.

Scott County was formed by an act of the general assembly on November 24, 1814, from parts of Washington, Lee, and Russell Counties and was named for General Winfield Scott. In 1856, part of Scott County was taken to form part of Wise County. The first court was held in a dwelling at Big Moccasin Gap in 1815, and the first public free schools were opened in 1870. The county seat is Gate City, at elevation 1304 feet, with a population of 2159 in the year 2000.

The population still consists largely of descendants of the early settlers. Most of the people live on smooth land near streams and on the smoother ridge tops in the valley uplands. Very few live in the steep and rugged mountain country. Much of the land is unsuitable for intensive use. There is relatively little farming or mining in the county, and most employment is in the services, government and trade sectors.


1814 County formed from Washington, Russell, Lee
1815 1st court session
1815 1st election
1818 county divided in 2 districts
1827 New courthouse built
1869-70 1st Public schools
1886 Estilleville changed to Gate City
1870 Seven districts were formed
1773 Crissman/Lee Fort built
1774 Houston Fort built
1775 Duncan's Fort built
1782 Blockhouse had been built
1887 First train to Gate City

Gate City
Weber City
Ft. Blackmore
Maces Springs
















Speer's Ferry

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