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Formed in 1786, Russell County borders many Southwest Virginia counties, sharing its largest stretch of border with Washington County. Russell County has been split several times over the years, but still has many communities and towns including Castlewood, Cleveland, Honaker, Lebanon and St. Paul.
These towns and areas weave a tapestry of mining history and beautiful overlooks and hikes, including the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, The Channels and the Mendota Fire Tower. There is also an extensive trail system throughout the county, offering multiple locations to explore by ATV, biking or hiking. Russell County is also home to the Clinch River, one of the most bio-diverse rivers on the planet, which is a destination for kayaking, canoeing and tubing
In addition to the various hiking and outdoor experiences, Russell County, like other areas of Southwest Virginia, also has a rich heritage music legacy.
Butch Robins, from Lebanon, is one of the most famous banjo players from the county, with extensive experience playing with Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys from 1977 to 1981. While with Bill Monroe, he played at festivals and venues throughout the United States, which also included the White House and Lincoln Center. He was inducted into the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame at Bean Blossom, IN in 2016.
He also played with Charlie Moore, Jim & Jesse, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, New Grass Revival and The Bluegrass Band. In 2007, he started the World International Blue Grass Band with members from around the world including Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australian and Ireland. This band played at several dates, including the International Word of Bluegrass conference and awards.
When exploring in Russell County, be sure to stop by Ma & Pa’s Restaurant in Castlewood and stay for the bluegrass jam on Mondays. Hicks musical instruments, a luthier, is also based in Russell County.