Scott County Historical
Scott County, Virginia
Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles
By Peggy Hensley
Hiltons community was named for the Hilton family, and was originally called Hilton. According to most people, the ‘s’ was added by the United States Post Office to distinguish it from a Hilton Village in Eastern Virginia. This was in the days before zip codes, so I imagine it was confusing. Today, we are left with two (2) ways to spell our community’s name. The sign over the school say ‘Hilton’, and Post Office sigh says ‘Hiltons". The way you spell it is really a matter of personal preference.
The community grew up around the railroad. The railroad was a link to the outside world by providing goods and transportation. Passenger service on the train was continued until the late thirties. In fact, to add yet another name to the community, some people still refer to it as Hiltons Station when they use the name, they are remembering the days when Hiltons had a train depot, and the passenger trains stopped there.
The building of route 58 in the early thirties also was a milestone in the Hiltons community. When the river bridge was built, its opening was celebrated with a huge barbecue for the whole community at Hiltons School.
Hiltons High School was built in 1921, and its first graduating class in 1922. The high school consolidated the one-room schools in the area, and gave students a chance at a better education. In 1956, the high school students were moved to Gate City High School, and Hiltons became an elementary school with grades 1-8. A new school was built in the mid 70’s and serves grades Kindergarten through 7.
All communities have places with unusual names, and Hiltons is no exception. Sometimes the origins of these names have been forgotten. When I started to write this article, I thought it might be interesting to try to find out why some places were named. ‘Drunkard’s Hill’ was called that because there was a moonshine still located there years ago. The ‘Bald Alley’, which is a huge rock cliff on the river, was a nesting place for bald eagles. The ‘Otter House’ has been a favorite swimming place for many years, and was once home to otters and other water animals. ‘Gravelly Hill was named for the gravel content of its soil. The ‘Many Sinks’ is an area with a large number of limestone caves and sinkholes. ‘Maces Spring’ is named for a mineral spring in Clinch Mountain which was widely known for its healing properties.
Hiltons is proud of being the home of the Original Carter Family. The Carter Family made the music of Scott County world-famous. The present-day Carter Family Fold continues to keep alive the traditional music of the Carter Family. It draws visitors from all over the world, and has been featured in many magazines and newspapers. Among the magazines which have done stories on the Carter Fold are Southern Living and Smithsonian. In 1983, it was the site of the Johnny Cash Christmas Special which was televised nationally on CBS Sunday Morning Show. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash brought their show to the Carter Fold once a year, and on January 10th of this year, they brought their friends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter with them as special guests.
All in all, Hiltons has had an interesting history. I hope that this article is fairly accurate. Most of our community history has been passed down orally, and sometimes you get several versions of the same story. I have enjoyed gathering the facts for this story, and I would like to thank everyone who shared their memories with me.