Virginia Counties
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Virginia Counties

The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

Washington County, Virginia

Washington County Education, Geography, and History

Washington County, Virginia Courthouse

Washington County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 54,876. Its county seat is Abingdon.

Washington County is part of the Kingsport–Bristol–Bristol, TN-VA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area, commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.

Etymology - Origin of Washington County Name

Washington was the first county in the country named after US president George Washington.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Washington County History

For thousands of years, indigenous peoples of varying cultures lived in the area. At the time of European encounter, the Chiska had a chief village near what is now Saltville, destroyed by the Spaniards in 1568. The Cherokee annexed the region from the Xualae around 1671, and ceded it to the Virginia Colony in 1770 at the Treaty of Lochaber.

The county was formed by Virginians in 1776 from Fincastle County. It was named for George Washington, who was then commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Washington County is among the first geographical regions to be named after the president of the United States.

Washington County was raided by the Chickamauga Cherokee during the Cherokee–American wars. In July, 1776, Chief Dragging Canoe led an attack on Black's Fort (renamed Abingdon in 1778). The area remained prone to attack until after Chickamauga leader Bob Benge was finally slain by settlers in Washington County in 1794.

As with many other frontier counties, the boundaries and territory changed over the years. In 1786 the northwestern part of Washington County became Russell County. In 1814 the western part of what remained of Washington County was combined with parts of Lee and Russell counties to form Scott County. In 1832 the northeastern part of Washington was combined with part of Wythe County to form Smyth County. Finally, with the incorporation of the town of Goodson as the independent city of Bristol in 1890, Washington County assumed its present size.

Washington County, Virginia formed from Fincastle (extinguished) and Montgomery Counties. Legislative enactment in 1776. Organized in 1777. Montgomery County gave only a small portion, at a later date. [Virginia Counties: Those Resulting from Virginia Legislation, by Morgan Poitiaux Robinson, originally published as Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, Volume 9, January, April, July 1916, reprinted 1992 by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD.]

Washington County is the first locality in the United States known to have been named for George Washington. It was formed from Fincastle County in 1776, and a part of Montgomery County was added in 1777. Its area is 563 square miles, and the county seat is Abingdon.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 566 square miles (1,466 km2), of which, 563 square miles (1,458 km2) of it is land and 3 square miles (8 km2) of it (0.55%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Smyth County, Virginia - northeast
  • Grayson County, Virginia - east-southeast
  • Johnson County, Tennessee - south-southeast
  • Sullivan County, Tennessee - southwest
  • Bristol, Virginia - southwest
  • Scott County, Virginia - west
  • Russell County, Virginia - northwest



Emory and Henry College, Emory
Virginia Highlands Community College, Abingdon
Virginia Intermont College, Bristol (closed 2014)

Public high schools

Abingdon High School, Abingdon
Holston High School, Damascus
John S. Battle High School, Bristol
Patrick Henry High School, Glade Spring

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