Town of Wise Wayside

Home » Venues » Town of Wise Wayside

Town of Wise Wayside

Venue Information



About the Wayside Exhibits

Known variously through the years as Big Glades, Gladesville, and Gladeville, Wise took its current name in 1924 after Henry Alexander Wise, Governor of Virginia before the Civil War. Located on the road between Union Kentucky and the confederate railroad at Abingdon, Wise had a close view of the War.

The coal and lumber industries have shaped life in Wise since the late 1800s, and significant natural gas reserves in the County are likely to influence its future. Music of Coal, a landmark collection of recorded songs inspired by the lives of the people who mine the region’s bituminous coal, was locally produced by the Lonesome Pine Office on Youth. It includes “Explosion at Derby Mine”, chronicling
the nearby mine disaster in 1934 that killed 17 miners. Survivors escaped through an abandoned shaft. Two men at the mine mouth survived being hurled 150 feet by the blast.

In 1954, Clinch Valley College was formed here in the County seat and provided valuable access to higher education in the coalfields region. Dr. Papa Joe Smiddy, a devoted educator and much loved old time banjo player served as biology professor, Director, and Chancellor from 1954 to 1985. In 1999 the school became known as the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Central to the cultural life of the town has been the Wise County Fairgrounds, where traditional music has been presented for decades including bluegrass by the Sanders Brothers, three part harmonies of the Virginia Sweethearts, old time fiddling by Daniel Dale, bluegrass fiddling by Billy Baker, and many more.

Other Nearby Wayside Exhibits

Norton/Coeburn Wayside – City of Norton

4.67 miles

Dickenson County Wayside

12.52 miles