History of the NRV

The New River Valley boasts a unique, Appalachian heritage. Below you’ll find lots of amazing places to learn about the history of this region. 

Completed in 1774, Smithfield became not only the county’s political and social center, it was a beacon, a destination, for thousands of settlers moving west to seek new land and opportunity. Smithfield became a place of resting and storing new provisions before the next leg of the westward passage. Historic Smithfield was first opened to the public in 1964, and today is a living exemplar of the past, a testimony to the bravery and devotion to country of the Prestons, who made it their home.

The Floyd County Historical Society was established in 1976 after a particularly inspiring bicentennial celebration of the United States Declaration of Independence. Initially a part of the New River Historical Society, the Floyd County Society broke off to become a county-focused organization in 2004. The Society continues to grow today as a dedicated group of volunteers with the broad support of many citizens and descendants of Floyd County.

The 1829 Georgian manor house features many of the original decorative accents and charm of Giles County in the 19th century. Along with visiting the museum, they offer genealogical services, group tours, a wonderful locally stocked gift shop, and the opportunity to host your event or meeting on the grounds or within our facilities. The oldest surviving brick house in Giles County, the Johnston house was built in 1829 by Colonel Andrew Johnston.

The Wilderness Road Regional Museum, a two-story building located about a mile from Interstate 81 has been owned and operated by the New River Historical Society since April 16, 1980. Originally, the museum building had been two separate homes that belonged to the Hance-Alexander family, and these two homes served dual purposes as residences and businesses for several years. Some of these business establishments included a tavern, general store, and the first Newbern post office.

Glencoe Mansion has something for everyone with a three-in-one museum experience comprised of the House Museum, History Exhibits and Art Gallery. The House Museum tells the story of the Wharton family and their role in Southwest Virginia’s post-Civil War development. History Exhibits, both permanent and temporary, explore the history and culture of Radford and the surrounding region. The Art Gallery, with ever-changing exhibits, reveals our region’s current artistic culture. At Glencoe Mansion there is something for everyone to explore!