Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia
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Place Names


Unless so noted, the list of place names of Scott County is transcribed from
Southwest Virginia Crossroads
An Almanac of Place Names and Places to See
by Joe Tennis
Published by The Overmountain Press, Johnson City, TN

Joe Tennis's Southwest Virginia Crossroads is a must-have book for all who have Scott County or Southwest Virginia connections. It is loaded with lore, legends, history, and local anecdotes plus original photographs and maps. The book is available in Scott County at Natural Tunnel State Park. To order the book, visit this page: http://overmtn.com/newpages/books/SWVAXR.html

Note: The author uses VA-*** to show route numbers.  Unless shown as a U.S. Route, the
two digit routes are State Roads (SR) and the three digit routes are County Roads (CR).

Anyone with additional Place Names to add please submit by E-Mail  

 

 


BELLAMY:
Between Moccasin Ridge and the Copper Creek Knobs, this community likely 
takes its name from William H. Bellamy, the first postmaster in 1901.  VA-627 at VA-643.

BIG MOSSACIN GAP:  Big Mossacin Gap must have looked like a godsend to
Daniel Boone when the trailblazer passed through in 1769.  Here, between Weber City
and Gate City, towering Clinch Mountain drops more than 1800 feet from its high 
point above nearby Hiltons.  The gap allows room for Big Moccasin Creek, as well as 
railroad tracks and the four lanes of US-23/58/421.  This natural mountain pass is the 
only way to get to Scott County courthouse from the county’s lower southeastern 
corner.
At the gap, in 1815, the first court of Scott County was held at the home o Benjamin 
T. Hollins.  A small monument marks this spot at the crossroads of US-23 and 
US-58/421.
A Scott County post office here in the 1810s was known as “Mosqueson Gap” or “Mockinson 
Gap.”  The spelling had evolved to “Moccasin Gap” by the early 1900s.  Traditionally, the name 
is owed to early travelers who found the footprints of 
moccasins along the creek near the gap.

BRUNO:  From 1902 to 1907, Bruno supported its own post office where Roberts
Creek crosses US-58/421 at a hairpin curve, near a rustic country store.  About four
miles east of Bruno, also US 58/421, a post office called “Fido” was open from 1879
to 1907.  Both Bruno and Fido, according to local tradition, took their names from
somebody’s dogs.  Southeastern : US 58/421 at VA-857.

BUSH MILL:  Built in about 1896, the water-powered Bush Mill, VA-6890, sits on 
the banks of the Amos Branch of Copper Creek and sometimes called “Bond Mill” 
for S. H. Bond, who owned it for a few year in the early 1900s.  The “Bush” is for 
Valentine Bush, who built the mill on a limestone foundation with help from his sons, 
Stephen and William, and W. T. Frazier.  Its water wheel is 30 feet in diameter.

CAMP ROCK:  Inside the Jefferson National Forest, Camp Rock is a cliff shelter 
used by hunting parties during early settlement in the late 1700s.  The rock’s elevation
is about 4,000 feet, the highest point in Scott County.  Northern: VA-619 at Wise 
County line.

CLINCHPORT:  Originally incorporated in 1894, Clinchport grew as a port for
loggers who dodged river rocks whole rolling timber downstream.  It also became a
thriving railroad and agricultural center at the Clinch River’s confluence with Stock
Creek in Central Scott County.
The town is named for the river.  But several theories exist on how the Clinch River 
and Clinch Mountain took their names.  One story say “Clinch” comes from a large, 
athletic hunter named Clinch (Clinche), who was thrown from his horse into the river 
while retreating from Indians circa 1749; Clinch managed to drown one of his Indian 
attackers, even after his fall.  Yet another story says the name is for an Irishman who 
fell off a raft and cried, “Clinch me! Clinch me!”
  Southwest: VA-65

DANIEL BOONE:  Local tradition says explorer Daniel Boone once drank from a
spring at a small settlement named for him.  In the 1770s, Boone blazed a trail through 
Southwest Virginia from Big Mocassin Gap to Cumberland Gap.  South-Central:
VA 870, near VA-643.

DUFFIELD:   In northwestern Scott County, Duffield’s main intersection lies 
where US-58/421 splits from US-23 and heads west.  Incorporated in 1894, 
Duffield’s name originated either from Sam Henry Duff, an early settler who came 
here in about 1818 from Mount Airy, North Carolina, or Robert Duff, a pioneer who 
lived in a log cabin known as “Duffield.”

DUNCAN MILL:  At the eastern edge of Rye Cove, Duncan Mill was named for a
long-gone grist mill destroyed during a tornado on May 2, 1929.  John Duncan built 
the original log mill on Cove Creek in about 1835.  George W. Johnson, Duncan’s
son-in-law, later replaced it with a more modern structure.  Central: VA-649 at Va-656.

DUNGANNON:  Settled as early as the 1770s along the Clinch River, Dungannon 
was first called “Hunter’s Ford” and, later, :Osborne’s Ford,” for Stephen Osborne
(Osborn), who obtained a land grant here in 1786.  The name “Dungannon” comes 
from Patrick Hagan, who came to Scott County in about 1844 to join his uncle, 
Joseph Hagan.  Patrick Hagan  (1828-1917) became a prominent lawyer and eventually amassed 
large holdings of timberlands, including Osborne’s Ford.  By the early 1900s, 
Hagan had changed the name of this place to pay homage to his family’s hometown in Ireland.  
He also designed the town plan.  Dungannon was incorporated in 1918.  
Northeast: VA-65/72

FAIRVIEW:  A view of rolling hills likely inspired the community name “Fairview”.  
Southwestern: VA-600 at VA-622.

FORT BLACKMORE:  Fort Blackmore takes its name from Blackmore’s Fort, an
early pioneer settlement.  Established in 1771-1772, this fort was built on land owned 
by Capt. John Blackmore.  Big Stony Creek meets the Clinch River here in Central 
Scott County at the junction of VA-65 and VA-72, Fort Blackmore’s main crossroads.  
The first Fort Blackmore post office opened in 1859.  Prior to that, a post office called 
“Stony Creek” operated in this vicinity as early as 1847.

GATE CITY:  At the junction of US-23/58/421 and VA-71, Gate City is Scott
County’s courthouse town and was named for its proximity to Big Moccasin Gap,
which lies at its south side.  This gap in Clinch Mountain once inspired the town’s
nickname, “Gateway to the West.”
Laid out in 1815, the town’s main east-west thoroughfare was named “Jackson Street”
for Andrew Jackson, a U.S. president then known as a military hero for his service in
the War of 1812.  Gate City was initially known as “Winfield” for Gen Winfield Scott,
another War of 1812 hero.  Winfield later became “Estillville” to honor Benjamin Estill,
a judge who helped establish Scott County.  Estillville became “Gate City” in about
1886 and was incorporated in 1892.
Dating to 1829, the brick Scott County Courthouse at 104 E. Jackson St. stands near
the Moccasin Avenue intersection.

HILL:  A man named Hill once operated a local tavern, or hotel, during the stagecoach
era and left his name on a central Scott County community near the crossroads of
VA-609 and VA-645.  Hill’s post office was called either “Hill’s Station” or “Hill
Station” beginning in the 1890s, then just plain “Hill.”

HILTONS:  Near the crossroads of VA-709 and US-58/421, Hiltons was once known
as “Fulkerson,” so named for Abraham Fulkerson, a Revolutionary War veteran who
settled on 100 acres in the Hiltons area of southeastern Scott County.  Fulkerson,
incidentally is the name of the magisterial district in the county’s seatheastern corner. 
The current name dates to about 1889 and probably honors early postmasters John H.
Hilton and Enos B. Hilton or their families. 

HOLSTON SPRINGS:  A mile west of Weber City, a spring water resort opened at
Holston Springs in about 1809.  For recreation, hotel guest rowed boats on the nearby
North Fork of the Holston River.  In the mid-1880s, the 24 room Holston Springs 
resort hotel was sold to Rufus Ayers (1849-1926), the industrialist whose large home at 
Big Stone Gap later became the Southwest Virginia Museum.  The Holston Springs 
Hotel, once Ayer’s personal showplace, burned down in 1914.  
Southern: VA-614 at VA-714.

JENNINGS MISSION:  Abram and Victoria Jennings donated land for the Jennings
Mission Church of Jesus Christ in the 1920s and gave their name to the area. 
South-Central: VA-788, Near VA-870.

KILGORE FORT HOUSE:  Built sometime between 1782 and 1790, the Kilgore 
Fort House is considered the oldest surviving structure in Scott County.  It was once 
a link in a chain of early Southwest Virginia fort houses built for protection from 
attacks by Native Americans.  In the early 1800s, it was the home of Robert Kilgore, a 
Primitive Baptist preacher who often held religious services here.  Privately owned, the 
house is listed on both state and national historic registers.  South of Nicklesville on 
VA-71, near a Copper Creek bridge.

MACES SPRING:  A man remembered only by his last name, Mace, lived in 
southeastern Scott County during the 1800s and owned property containing three 
springs, each producing a different kind of water.  A post office in the area, near the 
crossroads of VA-614 and VA-691, became known as “Mace’s Spring” (1888-1893), 
then “Maces Spring” (1893-1954).  At the base of Clinch Mountain, Maces Spring is 
part of Poor Valley, an area named not for economics but its poor quality soil.

McCONNELL:  The name of the McConnell community in the Copper Creek valley 
is probably derived from its first postmaster, Henry McConnell, in 1885.  Some say 
Copper Creek was name for copperhead snakes.  Central: VA-670 at VA-671,

MILLER YARD:  A Miller Yard post office operated from 1924 to 1948.  The name 
comes from H. I. Miller, president of the Interstate Railroad in the 1920s, when this 
railroad yard was established.  Northeastern: VA-608 at Clinch River.

NATURAL TUNNEL:  In central Scott County, the Natural Tunnel spans 850 feet 
beneath Purchase Ridge.  The feature formed about one million years ago as 
groundwater bearing carbonic acid percolated through cracks in a wall made of 
limestone and dolomitic bedrock. The water created a cave as the regional water table gradually dropped.  Ultimately, Stock Creek was rerouted underground, and the creek widened the 
tunnel through erosion.
This natural phenomenon is used as a railroad passage.  It also lends its name to the 
Natural Tunnel community, where a post office existed in the 1860s.  Natural Tunnel – 
the park or the place – can be found by going 3.5 miles south of Duffield on 
US-23/58/421, then following VA-871 east for one mile.

NICKLESVILLE:  In northeastern Scott County, Nicklesville lays along VA-71.  It 
was named for the family of James Nicksles, Sr. (1781-1869), an early6 landowner 
whose sons William and Walter operated a store and postoffice here in the 1830s.  
Originally incorporated as “Nicholsville” in 1902, the town adopted the current spelling
in 1938. 

NOTTINGHAM:  The Nottingham community probably owes its name to the family 
of G. H. and Martha Nottingham.  The couple deeded land to establish a church here 
in 
1899.  Southern: US-58/421 at VA-614.

PATTONSVILLE:  The Rev. Samuel Patton was a prominent early minister in Scott 
County and is remembered in the name “Pattonsville.”  Western: VA-604 at VA-638.

PENDLETON ISLAND:  The shallow Clinch River slips around Pendleton Island, a 
sanctuary owned by the Nature Conservancy of Virginia and once deemed the richest 
300 yards of mussel diversity on the planet.  The water here supports 40 different 
mussel species, including the green-blossom pearly mussel, believed to live only at this vicinity. 
 
Named for a local Pendleton family, the island is actually a collection of three wooded islets 
rising over 33 acres of riverbed.  Farmers once grew corn here, carrying 
crops to the mainland by horse and cart when the river was low.  A post office called 
“Pendleton” operated in the 1830s.  Central: Clinch River, one mile downstream of 
VA-72 bridge at Fort Blackmore.

RYE COVE:  Wild rye growing in central Scott County lent its name to Rye Cove, an 
agricultural community at the crossroads of VA-649 and VA-650.  Yet the name Rye 
Cove designates more than just a road crossing.  The name also identifies the largest 
valley in Scott County, stretching six miles long and four mile wide.  Similar to Burke’s 
Garden in Tazewell County, Rye Cove is ringed by mountain walls at all sides.
Perhaps this setting seemed like natural protection to pioneer settlers, who built the 
long-gone Rye Cove Fort here in the 1770s.  Even so, these mountain walls did not 
block Indians from finding the Rye Cove Fort and attacking it with deadly force in 
1776. The mountains encircling Rye Cove also could not hold back a cyclone on May 
2, 1929.
That afternoon, a tornado killed 12 schoolchildren and one teacher.  The phenomenon 
left 54 people with injuries and destroyed Rye Cove Consolidated School.  Classes in 
the community were not held again for a year, when Rye Cove Memorial High School 
opened in 1930.

SHELLEYS:  Miniature waterfall on the Ketron Branch of Cove Creek tumble down 
rock stairs at heights of about seven feet alongside US-58/421, one mile east of the 
Shelleys crossroads.  This community of cattle farms was named for early landowner 
Joel Shelley.  Southeastern: easternmost crossroads of US-58/421 and VA-617,

SILICA:  An early-1900s business that dug silica sand out of nearby Clinch Mountain 
left behind the name “Silica.”  Southeastern: VA-614, near Washington County.

SLANT:  Land naturally slopes toward the Clinch River at Slant.  Still, the area is 
alternately known as “Starnes,” Starnes Bluff,” or even “Starnes Slant.”  The “Starnes” 
name comes from Frederick Starnes who settled at Slant in the late 1700s.  
Central: VA-65 at VA-662.

SNOWFLAKE:  It doesn’t snow in Snowflake any more than in other parts of Scott County.  
But one account says a snowstorm in the 1880s, when the Snowflake post 
office was established, inspired the community’s name.  A different tale, still, says 
Snowflake took its name because it looked like snow had fallen here after nearly 
everyone painted their houses white.  Central: VA-71at VA-671.

SPEERS FERRY:  Prominent landowner Joshua Speer, Sr., established a ferry 
across the Clinch River in 1833 and gave his name to the Speers Ferry community.  
The ferry was discontinued in 1925 after a highway bridge opened.  
Central: US-23/58/421 bridge over Clinch River.

STANLEYTOWN:  An earlier settler, most likely Richard Stanley (1750-1838) or 
his son George, inspired the name “Stanleytown.”  Northwestern: VA-653 at VA-772.

SUNBRIGHT:  Tradition says the name “Sunbright” originated from the railroad 
stop’s location, a tiny valley where the sun shines bright among dense mountains.  
Northwestern: VA-653 at VA-871.

TWIN SPRINGS:  A pair of springs naturally inspired the community name “Twin Springs.”   Northeastern: VA-671 at VA-680.

WEBER CITY:  No Webers were involved in the name of Weber City, a southern 
Scott County town near the Tennessee border.
The town’s name actually, comes from a joke by the late Frank M. Parker, Sr.  This 
businessman is credited with naming Weber City after hearing a skit on the old radio 
show “Amos and Andy” in the 1930s.  In one episode, a character p0romoted a real 
estate development in a place called “Weber City.”  Finding inspiration there, Parker 
erected a WELCOME TO WEBER CITY sign at his service station on US-23, near 
Chapel Street.    At first, Parker’s sign seemed like a joke to residents.  But, in 1954, 
that joke became reality when the town here was incorporated as “Weber City”
The town spans just over two miles of US-23 – from the US-58/421 crossroads to 
just over the bridge which crosses the North Fork of the Holston River.

YUMA:  In 1886, residents of Yuma produced a list of possible names for a post 
office.  The one they liked the most – the name of an Indian tribe in southwestern 
Arizona – came from a suggestion by the county’s superintendent of schools, W. D. 
Smith.  Southern: VA-614 at VA-640.

 

 

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