Seemingly hidden among the rolling hills and mountain peaks of Smyth County lies an unexpected experience inside the Museum of the Middle Appalachians.
Saltville has a story to tell that surprises and delights history buffs and children alike. This story is laid out thoughtfully at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians, inviting visitors to step through the window of time “From the Ice Age to the Space Age.” Although the museum may look small, we recommend carving out 2 hours to view the displays and dive into the seventeen natural and cultural salt related exhibits of Appalachian heritage and history.
Why is salt such a big deal, when it seems like an ordinary and mundane material found in the pantry? This is the question on most visitor’s minds before they enter the museum, where they’ll find that the geology of Saltville has influenced the area’s history for millions of years. From full-size replicas of ice age mammals that roamed the region over 15,000 years ago, to the birth of the American chemical industry, the unexpected significance of salt to the area, and the nation, is captivating.
Hailed on Trip Advisor as standing alongside “the Smithsonian Museum of Art in Washington, DC…as one of the top museums in the entire country”, the Museum of the Middle Appalachians is a must see while visiting Smyth County, VA. For visitors who may just be passing through on I-81, you’ll be glad you carved out a couple of hours to check out this museum.
The museum is self-guided, but staffed by enthusiastic experts who welcome questions. They offer a living history of Saltville, often including facts about architectural styles of homes throughout the town and additional Civil War information, like where to get the best views of the battlefields while visiting.
Along with the excellent exhibits displaying authenitc artifacts arranged by timeline, you don’t want to miss the Salt Theater that the museum offers. These video programs offer further exploration into the role of the Salt Works in the Civil War, Saltville’s industrial history and significance as a “company town” and the enthralling existence of the area’s unique salt-water marsh located 400 miles from an ocean.
Looking to add to your visit to the Museum of the Middle Appalachians? Consider making room to explore the Salt Park, Well Fields, Walking and Birding Trails, Civil War sites and fortifications, and so much more. Level up your vacation by planning around one of the annual events in Saltville like the Labor Day Celebration, Paleontology Digs or the Woolly Day Weather Prediction event – where an animatronic Woolly Mammoth outshines Puxatawny Phil as the chief meteorogist for SWVA!