History

Franklin County’s storied heritage dates back centuries. The area was home to Native Americans as early as 10,000 B.C. An eastern Siouan tribe inhabited the region in the 1600s, and in the 1740s, settlers traveled by river and road, including the Carolina Road, to settle in what would become Franklin County.

From the beginning, agriculture has been a prominent element of Franklin County’s history. Tobacco was a leading crop and the county was a leading dairy producer for the state. Locally mined iron and copper were transported over the Carolina Road as far south as Georgia, and the furnace of the Washington Ironworks, the county’s oldest landmark, stands as a monument where munitions for the Revolutionary Army were manufactured.

Franklin County was home to Booker T. Washington, America’s most prominent African American educator and orator, and his birthplace is a national monument. Notable Confederate General Jubal A. Early also was born in the County, and his home place serves as a popular attraction in the Red Valley community.


Museums & Landmarks

Blue Ridge Institute & Farm Museum

  • At Ferrum College, the official State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore, highlighting folk traditions of western Virginia. The Farm Museum highlights life on 1800-era Virginia-German farmstead. Annual Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, fourth Saturday in October.

    Hours: Galleries and store open year-round, Monday-Saturday. Farm Museum open weekends mid-May through mid-August or by group reservation any day, April through October.

    Fees: $5 adults, $4 children

    ADA accessible • Charter Groups Welcome

    The Crooked Road Major Venue

  • (540) 365-4416
  • Visit Website

Booker T. Washington National Monument

  • This national treasure commemorates the birthplace of Booker T. Washington – America’s most prominent African American educator and orator of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The monument features a visitor center with exhibits and an audio-visual presentation, Plantation Trail, Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail, a picnic area, and a recreated 1850’s tobacco farm and garden area.

    Open seven days a week, year-round, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1.

  • (540) 721-2094
  • Visit Website

Franklin County Historical Society

  • The Franklin County Historical Society was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1968 for the purpose of collecting and preserving the history of Franklin County, Virginia. The society operates a history museum and research library to provide public access to the County’s collected materials. A variety of tours, in and out of the Town of Rocky Mount, are offered to groups of all sizes for a minimal per person fee.

    Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Closed Wed. & Sun.

  • (540) 483-1890
  • Visit Website

Jubal Early Homeplace

  • The Jubal Early Homeplace is the childhood home of General Jubal Anderson Early, born in Franklin County in 1816.

    The original house was built in the first decade of the 19th century (c. 1814), and enlarged after 1847. The two-story, 200 year old home has been preserved and refurbished, and now houses educational exhibits, portraits and artifacts giving visitors a look into the life of General Jubal Anderson Early. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Virginia Landmarks Register, and is a site on the Virginia Civil War Trail.

    Guided tours offered Sundays from 1 – 5 p.m.

  • (540) 556-7116
  • Visit Website

Old Chapel Church

  • Built in 1769, the Old Chapel Church in Penhook is one of only four frame pre-Revolutionary War Anglican churches remaining in Virginia, and the oldest documented frame structure in Southwestern Virginia. Restored in 2015, the 24′ by 32′ building of post and beam construction sits on a 2.6 acre lot with an outhouse and cemetery.

    Listed on National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register

  • (540) 483-0687

Veterans’ Memorial Park

  • Displays a central monument listing the names of the area’s fallen soldiers and conflicts that claimed their lives. Brick pavers honoring local veterans surround the monument.

  • (540) 483-7660
  • Visit Website