Scott County Historical
Scott County, Virginia
Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia
Names of Places in Scott County Got Their Name
no group in history contributed so much to the knowledge of the
topography of Scott County than the early hunters, who gave names to
most of the rivers and streams, gaps, salt licks, mountains and
the first settlers arrived, in most cases, they adopted the names
bestowed by the early hunters on natural landmarks and we are still
using many of them after a lapse of over two centuries.
Thomas Walker, as he explored Southwest Virginia, entered in his
journal on April 9, 1750 this statement:
traveled to a river, which I suppose to be that which hunters called
Clinche River from one hunter who first found it."
that he spelled Clinch with an 'e.' This entry was made almost twenty
years before a settlement was made on the Clinch River and leaves
little doubt how the river got its name.
Mountain got its name from the name of the river.
Creek was named for Obediah Torrell one of the early hunters who had a
camp on the creek.
Gap was named by the early hunters who found moccasin tracks in mud
along the creek bank made by Indians who had passed through the gap on
their way to their hunting ground. The creek and valley took their
name from the gap.
was once called Hunters Ford, because it was where the early hunters
crossed Clinch River to hunt in Clinch River Valley and the back
valley which they called Hunters Valley. After Stephen Osborne settled
in the area in the 1780s the name was changed to Osborne's Ford. And
after Patrick Hagan came into the area, he had the name changed to
Dungannon sometime in the 1900s, for his hometown in Ireland.
Creek near Dungannon-the early hunters called it Falling Creek because
of the many falls in the creek. At the mouth of Fall Creek where the
biggest fall is located Patrick Porter built his grist mill in the
know how some streams that flow through the county got their name.
Others we don't know.
River was named for Stephen Holston. The early hunters called it
Cherokee River. Two other streams in the county were named by the
early hunters, Stoney Creek and Rockie Branch. Both streams flow into
Clinch River near Fort Blackmore.
one knows how Copper Creek got its name. I have a theory that when the
early hunters first saw the creek it was of a copper color from soil
erosion from the clay soil in that area.
don't think anyone knows how Possum Creek got its name. Here are some
tall tales on how it got that name.
possum never walks in a straight line and the creek is so crooked they
called it Possum Creek. Possum tracks were found in the mud along the
creek banks. A possum dragged its tail through the mud on the creek
bank and the tail tracks was as crooked as the creek.
creek banks. A possum dragged its tail through the mud on the creek
bank and the tail tracks was as crooked as the creek.
county seat of Scott County has had three names. Scott County was
named for Gen. Winfield Scott. The county seat was called Winfield
from 1814 to 1817. And from 1817 to 1886 it was called Estillville to
honor Judge Benjamin Estill who was instrumental in getting the county
formed. Judge Estill was an admirer of Gen. Scott and gave the county
Estill was born at Hansonville, Washington County (now Russell County)
March 13, 1780. He served as the Commonwealth Attorney for Washington
County and was elected a member of the Virginia Legislature from
Washington County. He proposed and advocated the formation of the
county of Scott and gave to the county its name.
1825 he was elected to Congress with the reorganization of the courts
of the Commonwealth in 1831. He was elected a member of the General
Court and assigned to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit at which Scott
County was a part. He served for 21 years. In 1852 he resigned his
office and moved to a farm in Oldham County, Ky., where he died and is
buried. He died July 14,1853.
1886 the name was changed to Gate City because of Moccasin Gap being a
gateway to Kentucky and the west.
was named for two Nickles brothers, Walter and William Nickles, who
had come to the community and established a general merchandise
store. At about this time a post office was also established. It was
called Nickelsville to honor the Nickles brothers.
Yard was named for H.L. Miller, president of the Interstate Railroad.
This railroad met the CC & 0 Railroad there. At one time there was a school at Miller
Yard, a hotel and several houses and a WYE for turning trains around.
the Big Branch post office was moved to the highway leading from Gate
City to Nickelsville a building had to be built and the name changed.
The people were in a quandary as to what to name it. They had just
finished white washing the building when one of the ladies in the community
came and made the remark. The building is as white as a snowflake.
So the post office was named Snowflake.
version is there was a new Methodist preacher on the circuit that made
the remark, "That the people in the community were as pure and
white as a snowflake." Of course no one believed this.
was named for a Methodist minister, the Rev. Samuel Patton.
landowners sensed the need of a post office in the Big and Little Poor
Valley area. Several names were listed, but the one chosen was
mentioned by W.D. Smith of Yuma. Smith submitted the name to the Post
Master General for the Yuma post office. The request was granted.
Smith may have chosen the name 'Yuma' because it was short, easy to
remember and easy to spell. The word 'Yuma' comes from the Yuma
Indians of Arizona.
was so named because of the incline or slope of the ridge down to
River. The CC &
Railroad had a stop there which they called Starnes, for the many
Starnes families who lived in the community.
Ferry was named for Joshua Spear who established a ferry across Clinch
River in 1833. After the railroads came, there was a depot there where
people could change from the CC &
to the Southern and vice versa.
was named for the Hilton family. The Southern railroad called the stop
City was named by Frank Parker. The name comes from the old Amos
and Andy radio program.
Blackmore was named for John Blackmore who built a fort there in 1733.
It was called Blackmore's Fort in Indian days.
was so named with the hope it would become a shipping point.
was named for the Duff family.
Gap was named for John Wadlow, an early settler in the gap.
Valley was named for the poor fertility of the soil.
Ridge was named for the pine trees which grew on its 1700 feet
town was named for the Dave Sloan family.
Knob, which is the biggest and highest known in Clinch Mountain, was
named by the early settlers. It is 3,150 feet elevatioin.
Flatlick was a salt lick near Duffield.
Rock is a sheltered cliff of rock near the High Knob. It sheltered
hunters in the early days and is 4,000 feet elevation.
Boone is obviously named for the hunter, settler and explorer Daniel
Boone who often passed through this area.
was named for the Wood family. There once was a school there for
higher learning called a college.
Osborne said it was called Hardwood because of the timber that was
ferried across Clinch River. The CC & 0 Railroad had a stop nearby called Clinch.
the name arose from the topography of the surrounding country side.
Cove is a small sheltered area located between the hills and mountains.
Probably named by the early settlers because of the wild grass that
grew in the cove. Carter's Fort was here. Rye Cove is about six miles
long and four miles wide. It comprises about 25 square miles. The most
destructive storm of the 20th century in Scott County occurred May
2,1929 in the Rye Cove. It blew away the Rye Cove High School killing
twelve students and one teacher.
famous Carter Family of Hiltons recorded the song, "The Cyclone
of Rye Cove." The song was written by A. P. Carter.
Creek flows for a few miles as a surface stream. It sinks and passes
under the Clinch River. No other stream in the world has the distinction
of being on both sides of the river into which it flows. This makes it
was named for the Stanley family.
Summit for the Horton family. When the Foote Mineral located there
they called the place Sunbright.
are many valleys, hills, knobs and railroad stops that I have not
the people began to settle in what is now Scott County they gave a
name to the place where they settled. Some streams were called
branches, others were called creeks and hills were called mountains.
The name they gave is not always true. Because some of the branches
were larger than some of the so-called creeks. The dictionary gives
the following definitions:
branch is smaller than a creek. A creek is larger than a branch, but
is smaller than a river. A mountain is any elevation above 2,000 feet.
Another definition is a true mountain is any elevation high enough for
the vegetation to change. A ridge is a range of hills
higher than the surrounding terrain. A knob is a prominent isolated
rounded mound on a hill. A gap is a break in a hill or mountain.
are many branches in Scott County that have names. There are many that
do not. Almost every hill and mountain hollow has a branch.
Branch, Pine Branch, Big Branch, Champ Branch, Dean Branch, McClure
Branch, Jones Branch, Langford Branch, Kate Branch, Irving Branch,
Watts Branch, Bob Branch, Oak Branch, Pattonsville Branch, Shupe
Branch, Hamilton Branch, Cowan Branch, Newman Branch, Anderson
Branch, Venus Branch, Fowler Branch, Timbertree Branch, Lick Branch,
Burnt Cabin Branch, Red Hill Branch, Dowell Branch, Bouldmon Branch,
Ketron Branch, Franklin Branch, Hill Branch, Chapman Branch, Plank
Camp Branch, Peters Branch, Strong Branch, Falin Branch, Camp Rock
Branch, Roddy Branch, Valley Branch, White Rock Branch, Straight Fork
Branch, Big Oak Branch, Chestnut Camp Branch, Bear Pen Branch, Mahogany
Branch, Dingus Branch, Culbertson Branch, Bush Branch, Amos Branch,
Jessee Branch, Roaring Branch and Coal Pit Branch.
creeks are Sled Creek, Roberts Creek, Indian Creek, Boozy Creek, Lark
Creek, Head Creek, Troublesome Creek, Stock Creek, Dry Creek, Cove
Creek, Richmond Creek, Lick Creek, Big Moccasin Creek, Little Moccasin
Creek, Valley Creek, Little Stoney Creek, Big Stoney Creek, Grassy
Creek, Staunton Creek, Benges Creek, Fall Creek, McGhee Creek, The
Springs, Holston Springs, Buck Springs, Big Springs, Quillen Springs,
Maces Springs, Hale Spring. Sulphur Springs in Hunters Valley.
Hollow, Brushy Knob, Lane Ridge, Long Ridge, Frisby Knob, Bald Knob,
Fleenor Ridge, Gate Ridge, Cove Ridge, Shelly Ridge, Bunker Hill,
Purchase Ridge, Breeches Ridge, Stoney Ridge, Lonesome Ridge, Miller
Knob, Browder Mountain, Cove Ridge, Monkey Falls, Bushy Knob, Lane
Ridge, Long Ridge and Frisby Ridge.
Hollows and Valleys: Renfro Valley, Sulphur Valley, Stanley Valley, Haynes Valley, Muttonhead Hollow, Short Hollow, Davidson Hollow, Spicewood Hollow, Rich Valley, Newton Hollow, Long Hollow, Peters Hollow, Ridgeway Hollow, Williams Hollow, Dry Hollow, Mannas Hollow, Jessee Hollow, McConnell Hollow, Moore Hollow, Barb Hollow, Alley Valley, Beaver Hollow, Besley Hollow, Gilmore Hollow, Cave Spring Hollow, California Hollow, England Hollow.
Gaps: Hamilton Gap, Pound Gap, Brick Yard Gap, Addington Gap, Jett Gap,
Muddy Gap, Indicuts Gap, Marshall Gap, Powers Gap, Fields Gap, Cowan
Gap, Drake Gap, Cain Gap, Elisha Lick Gap, Maple Gap.
Bluffs: Bald Alley Bluff, Clinch River Bluff, Otterhouse Bluff, Starnes
places in the county: Blue Water Pond, Devil Fork, Devil's Racepath,
Muddy Fork, Chimney Rock, Hanging Rock, Pendletons Island, Caney Fork,
Thompson Ford, Gray's Island, Grays Ford, Rock House, Fincastle, Little
Duck, Kermit, Cassard, Beechgrove, Turkeylick, Albert, Canton, Laurel
Fork, Mabe, Boulder, Copper Station, Winniger, Kerntown, Chestnut Flats,
Owen Corner, Lydia, Slabtown, Livington, Bellamytown, Townes Tunnel,
trains on the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio (CC & O) Railroad and the Southern Railroad carried
the mail and express. This was in the days of the steam engine. All
steam engines had a whistle which could be heard for miles. They could
make the hills and valleys ring and echo. People said the whistle had a
lonesome sound. The bigger the engine the bigger the whistle.
stops on the CC &
O Railroad in Scott County were as follows:
Powers, Dungannon, Wood, Hardwood, Fort Blackmore, Starnes, Hill, Rye
Cove, Clinch, Speers Ferry and Kermit.
stops on the Southern Railroad in Scott County were as follows:
Yard, Yuma, Moccasin Gap, Gate City, Daniel Boone, Speers Ferry, Copper,
Clinchport, Glenita, Sunbright, Duffield, Tito, and from Moccasin Gap to
Bristol, a Flag Stop at Nottingham, Hilton and Maces Spring.
in Scott County still have our hills, mountains, valleys and streams.
the old steam engines are gone. It is doubtful if we will ever hear the
lonesome whistle blow that could make the hills and valleys echo.
is not a complete list of all the places in Scott County. It's almost
impossible to get a complete list.