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Once a gateway to trailblazers,
Today’s Duffield is a small town with big connections
Duffield may be
’s smallest incorporated town, but it has ties with extremely big names
and organizations like Daniel Boone, Tempur-Pedic, and
Welcome Center and
main entrance to Natural Tunnel State Park.
According to the 2000 census, the town
had a population of 63 people, making the
town the smallest in the state of
. However, due to boundary adjustments in 2004, the neighboring town of
may take the title in 2010. The recent boundary adjustment increased
Duffield’s population to approximately 85 people.
For better or worse, everyone knows
one another in Duffield, and
’s smallest town remains a close-knit community. Community members
possess a large amount of civic pride, and most people are extremely
knowledgeable about the rich local history.
Native Americans named the area Little
Flat Lick, but the locality was renamed Duffield in 1818 by Sam Henry
Duff, who settled the area after moving his family west from
Duff was not the first settler of
European descent in the region. One of his early neighbors, John McKinney,
was a brother-in-law of Daniel Boone. Early explorers like Daniel Boone,
Squire Boone, Dr. Thomas Walker, and Elisha Wallen crossed the Little Flat
Lick Valley numerous times during long hunts and explorations into western
lands during the 18th century.
On Sept. 9, 2000, politicians from
signed a proclamation that officially gave the Daniel Boone Wilderness
Trail Association, Inc., the rights to label, promote, and preserve the
historical route used by these explorers.
and the present-day town of
have been labeled the “Gateway to the West” because early explorers
and eventually headed west into
through Kane’s Gap or across Wallen’s Ridge.
In March of 1775, Daniel Boone and his
axemen blazed the now famous Wilderness Trail from Fort Patrick Henry to
. They came through Moccasin Gap near
and traveled along Moccasin Creek. They then traveled along Troublesome
Creek and the
. The group blazed past Natural Tunnel and into the Little Flat Lick
From Little Flat Lick, the group of
explorers headed though Kane’s Gap and down Wallen’s Creek.
Ironically, Boone’s eldest son, James, had been killed in a conflict
with hostile Indians near Wallen’s Creek two years earlier. Newspapers
as far away as
published stories on the death.
Over 100 years after Boone and other
explorers blazed the route through Little Flat Lick, the
state legislature incorporated the town of
The railroad was booming and it ran
right through the middle of town. Duffield was the home of a couple of
stores, blacksmith shops, a brick yard, and a large sawmill. All of these
economic strengths helped persuade the Virginia General Assembly to
incorporate the town.
Miller has been the mayor of Duffield for the past seven years. He
has served on the town council since 1996.
The town government is made up of five
elected council members. Members choose among themselves who will assume
the roles of mayor and vice mayor. Gerald Miller, Duffield’s current
mayor, has held the position for seven years. He has served on the town
council since 1996, and he regularly attends Scott County School Board
meetings as a concerned member of the Duffield community.
Judges actually appointed town council
members until 1998, when Del. Terry Kilgore pushed through legislation
that changed the town’s charter and brought about general elections in
Today, Duffield lies at the crossroads
of US 58/421 and US 23. It is home to a couple of shopping centers, a few
’s only motel, and a thriving industrial park.
During the 1950s, “King Coal” was
falling from power, and the region had to make economic adjustments. In
the 1960s, the LENOWISCO (Lee-Norton-Wise-Scott) Planning
called for a regional industrial park and trade center. The commission
chose Duffield for the site.
Bruce Robinette, LENOWISCO’s
executive director at the time, made some very difficult decisions and a
few local enemies. However, his long-range vision has helped the town of
Today, Duffield’s economic success
relies on the success of the industries housed in the industrial park. The
largest employer is Tempur-Pedic, a company that manufactures high-end
sleep systems. Tempur-Pedic alone provides over 2,000 jobs for the region.
The industrial park is also home to
Virginia Fiberglass, Gilbert Lumber, Rasnic Veterinary Clinic, Cumberland
Glove, the volunteer fire department, and a few more businesses.
LENOWISCO’s current executive
director, Ron Flanary, continues to emphasize industrial development.
However, the commission is also diversifying the economic plan to aid
technological infrastructure and tourism.
The town of
is situated in a prime location for those interested in eco-tourism.
is located just a few miles from town
limits. The park offers many outdoor activities, including swimming,
hiking, biking, picnic areas, a campground, an amphitheater, chairlifts to
the tunnel, and an environmental-education center.
also offers an abundance of activities for visitors of the area. Hiking,
biking, horseback riding, fishing, and camping are all popular activities
in the region. High Knob Campground is located near the scenic
, and a trail leads to the
that offers spectacular views of
The tourism industry also caters to
those who have a thirst for country music. “The
’s Heritage Music Trail,” travels through Duffield along US 23. The
Carter Family Fold in Hiltons is approximately 25 miles from Duffield.
LENOWISCO has worked with politicians,
activists, and community leaders to promote these attractions in the
movie prop for the Hollywood hit Coal Miner's Daughter sits at the
main intersection of Duffield in Kenny Fannon's front yard. Today,
the depot serves as a museum, and is full of railroad memorabilia.
The main intersection of Duffield (US
58/421 and US 23) is home to Duffield’s own attraction. What looks like
an old train depot is actually an old movie prop. Hollywood moviemakers
constructed the depot near
, for the
hit Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Duffield’s Kenny Fannon received a
phone call from a friend one day who told him that they needed to get the
prop out of a mining camp before the Blue Diamond Coal Company destroyed
it. After Fannon’s friend could not convince his wife to put the old
prop in their front yard, Fannon decided to place the depot in his yard.
Fannon negotiated with the coal
company, and then he and a few other men cut the depot into eight-foot
pieces and hauled it to Duffield.
Today, the depot is full of an
abundance of old railroad memorabilia, including lights, lamps, whistles,
miniature train sets, pictures, timetables, charts, and ticket boxes.
There is also a guestbook full of names from people all over the world who
have visited Fannon’s little museum.
Fannon also has a caboose he acquired
from the Norfolk Southern Railway placed on railroad ties on one end of
the depot. Fannon is proud of his collection, but he takes real pride in
the fact that he has willed the entire collection to his two grandsons.
Fannon’s antique collection is not
the only thing he shares with others in the region. He has also been the
chairman for Duffield Days for the past 20 years. In 1981, the Duffield
Ruritan Club suggested the town have a parade each Labor Day weekend. In
1987, Fannon and a few others decided to form the Duffield Days Committee,
and he has been the chairperson ever since. The annual event has grown
from a small parade to a weekend-long spectacle.
The parade is now accompanied by
concerts, tractor pulls, tractor races, quilt shows, goat shows, crafts,
and numerous food vendors. Over 8,000 people flock to Duffield over the
Labor Day weekend to participate in the activities.
Even though Duffield is still
’s smallest town, the heart of the town remains large. Citizens possess
a strong work ethic, a sense of civic duty, and the ability to throw a big
party on Labor Day.
’s smallest town also offers an exciting array of outdoor activities
that educate participants in the rich cultural history surrounding