5 Quirky Things in Tazewell County

America’s Largest Weeping Willow!


The weeping willow tree is mainly found in the Northern Hemisphere, with over 400 species of the tree in existence.  Most weeping willow trees grow to be forty or more feet tall!  The weeping willow tree is distinct in shape with its rounded drooping branches.  Burke’s Garden, in Tazewell County, is home to the largest weeping willow tree in the country!  The tree continues to grow and is an oasis of shade to its surroundings.  Willow Trees are used to produce many different products ranging from furniture, whistles, fish traps, art, medicine and so much more.  Ironically, you may consume what the tree produces through a company you may not even think to associate with the weeping willow, Bayer Aspirin.

Willow sap is something we all use on a daily basis and may be unaware of.  Edward Stone, a British Church of England Rector, in 1763, experimented with willow sap.  He was able to identify and isolate specifically salicylic acid.  That specific acid caused horrible stomach issues and desperately needed to be revised in order for human consumption.  In 1897, Felix Hoffman , a German chemist was able to develop a synthetic version of the tree sap.  Hoffman’s creation was much easier on the stomach and ready for the market.  Hoffman’s company is one we see on store shelves today, Bayer, went on to produce and market the first aspirin.

(Info found on – http://garden.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Weeping_Willow_Tree_Facts)


The Cutscuts

The U.S. 460 bypass we all travel on to work and home has its own unique story.  The Cuts, in Cedar Bluff, is a roadway cut through limestone rock with massive rock cliffs surrounding the highway.  Not only does the speed limit drop to 45 through the cuts, but it’s also the largest highway cuts in Virginia.  Mountains were literally moved to make the bypass possible and the road was opened in December 1972.  Once completed the Cuts created a massive outline of the state of Virginia in the limestone wall!  Want to see the panoramic view of the Cuts from above?  Make your way over to the Cedar Bluff Overlook Park and hike to the top where you can capture some of the most breathtaking views in the county!

Leslie, Louise, and Mullins Dr. Terry. Cedar Bluff Historic Mill Town on the Clinch.  Tazewell: 2013. Print


Tan Riffleshell Mussel

Did you know The Clinch River in Tazewell County is home to the extremely rare Tan Riffleshell mussel!  It is so rare that it is believed to only live in a portion of the Clinch in Cedar Bluff.   The Tan RifflesTanRiffleshell-771x593hell mussel is even included on the state and federal endangered species list!  This freshwater mussel isn’t very unique looking as its shell is brown to yellow in color with a variety of green rays as an overlay.  Interestingly enough, this freshwater mussel is also known as the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” for our river.  They feed on small particles floating in the river and act as a filter to help produce clean water.  If you find yourself in the Clinch looking for this mussel, please remember to be respectful of the species as well as its habitat so we can keep this national treasure in our county!

Leslie, Louise, and Mullins Dr. Terry. Cedar Bluff Historic Mill Town on the Clinch.  Tazewell: 2013. Print



Emma Yates Memorial Library

When you were a child your parents probably took you to the library to check out your favorite books (of course this was before the digital boom).  When you went to the library you thought it was just that, a place filled with books and stories that could transport your imagination to its depths, but did you ever stop to think what the true story was behind the library that encompasses all of this adventure?  The Emma Yates Memorial Library is a quaint building located in the heart of Pocahontas.  It looks like something you would see on Notting Hill in the movies.  The building was built in 1901 and was a shop owned by Emma Yates.  The original  building features are still there today, including the original shelves and cylinder glass windows.  Emma studied millinery in New York City prior to making Pocahontas her home.  When she opened the shop she sold wemmaomen’s dresses and hats.  She was very fashion forward and would take pride in having the latest fashion trends in the area.   In the evenings, after the shop had closed, the ladies from the town would come together for what they considered socializing.  However, their husbands always referred to the shop during their social times as gossiping.  Today, the library has on display some pieces from Emma’s collection.  The Emma Yates Memorial Library truly is a unique asset to the community with a rich history from years past.



Crab Orchard’s Confederate Bone Ringbone

Hopefully just the title of this quirky treasure got your attention, and now you’re probably thinking about where this bone originated from exactly.  Maybe an Indian killed a deer for food and saved the bone as a badge of honor–just stop, it’s not what you think–it’s even better!  The bone ring is actually made from a Confederate soldier’s knee cap!  Yes,  you read that right, his knee cap!  The Confederate soldier was a prisoner of war and died in the bone1prison.  A fellow prisoner was the one who made the ring as a memorial for his friend.  The ring is decorated with a flag on the top, square front, and is decorated on each of the two angled sides.  The ring has a rich history as it was inherited by the family of James Allen Jr. from Greenebone2 County, TN.  It made its way to Tazewell County when Jeff Higginbotham  Jr. donated the ring from his personal collection.  That collection was the foundation that started the Crab Orchard Museum.  How is that for a quirky treasure in Tazewell County?  Stop by Crab Orchard Museum for a closer look at the bone ring among many other interesting artifacts from all over the county and region!

(Info from Crab Orchard Museum)