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Asial Snow and Snowville

One of the pioneers who lived in the land that became Pulaski County, Va., was a man by the name of Asiel Snow.

Coming from the northeastern part of America, Snow and his family settled in the area now known as Christiansburg. He was a maker of fine furniture of his day, and a master craftsman.

One a trip through the area south of the New River delivering a load of furniture by horse and wagon, he came upon the crystal clear waters of Little River.

He was so fascinated by the beauty of the place that he realized right off that this was the place where he would establish the town of his dreams.

Knowing this would be the ideal site for a dam to furnish waterpower and suitable land on which to establish a town, his plan began to take shape.

It was not just a dream.

Snow made it all come to pass. He moved his wife and nine children to the area, and started to build.

Logs were floated or dragged from the timberland to be used as material for construction of the dam. The year was about 1830.

Snow and his large family would be a good nucleus for the citizenship of the town. They must have been hard workers, because by the year 1850 the town had a trip hammer forge for processing iron, an oil factory that converted flax seed to linseed oil and a sawmill operated by a man named Snell.

They said Snell was slow that’ why they nicknamed him Snail.

Here in the burgeoning village was a carding mill where wool was worked into yarn. This was also the place where wool was packed into cloth bags for shipment north. It was necessary that pins be used to fasten the tops of these bags of wool.

At this point, necessity became the mother of invention. Since pins were scarce, someone came up with the idea of using the long vicious looking thorns from the nearby hillsides. Gathering thorns became the source o f income for village youngsters.

Other businesses were the general store, grist mill, tannery, blacksmith shop, shoe factory and blast foundry, where scrap metal was made into cooking utensils. Also, fine swords were produced in Snowville.

Asiel Snow was a man of great foresight and good fortune, and evidently a born engineer.

One thing he could not foresee was the eventual location of the great “Iron Horse.” When the railroad was routed near, but not through the town, the days of Snowville as a boomtown, were over.

It seemed like everything connected with the great transportation and trade industry grew rich, while thousands of Snowvilles across the country started to go in the opposite direction.

There are still signs of grading for the railroad, but the rails were never put down. Signs are all that’s left.


Signs of strip mining in the nearby hills that refuse to grow anything green. But on a hillside on an April day, one might see the lush green of the thorn bush, another reminder of Snowwille’s past.

Lloyd Matthews is a retired and surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski



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