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The most important natural feature in Scott County is Moccasin Gap for in it centered much of the early history and development of the county and the surrounding area. The Cherokee and Shawnee Indians passed through the Gap on their way to the hunting grounds south of the Clinch River and later to attack settlers along the Clinch and Moccasin Valley. Longhunters, the first led by Elisha Wallen in 1761, made use of the Gap on their hunts in Virginia and Kentucky. In 1775 Daniel Boone led a party of 30 axmen through Moccasin gap to blaze the Wilderness Trail to the Kentucky River. Following the Revolutionary War thousands of pioneers passed through the Gap to settle Kentucky and the Mid- West.
Burial mounds, caves and artifacts provide ample evidence that Indians occupied Scott County lands for thousands of years before the white men came. By the time the whites arrived the Shawnee, claiming territory north of the Clinch, and the Cherokee, claiming territory south of the Clinch, were the only Indians in the area. It was not the land but the bountiful food supply the land provided that encouraged the Indians to challenge the whites for the area until it became the dark and bloody ground.
The settlers, Scots-Irish, German and English, came down the Wilderness Road from the east seeking free land, plentiful game, no taxes and religious freedom. Some drifted south into North Carolina, others passed on to Kentucky and some chose to settle in Scott County territory. By 1795 a long string of log cabins lined the Wilderness Trail from the Anderson Blockhouse to Kane Gap in Powell Mountain. Others who settled on the North Fork of the Clinch River came down the old Fincastle Road through Dungannon, Ft. Blackmore and Rye Cove. The Fincastle Road intersected with the Wilderness Trail near Little Flat Lick, present day Duffield.
There were eight frontier forts in Scott County territory built to provide protection against Indian raids and for use as stopping places for hunters and settlers.
Blackmore's Fort, overlooking the Clinch River, was built by Capt. John Blackmore in 1772. It was attacked by Indians many times and several people were killed or captured near the fort. Daniel Boone was in command of Fort Blackmore and other forts on the Clinch in 1774 while the militia was engaged in the battle of Point Pleasant during Dunmore's war.
Huston's Fort was built in 1774 on the waters of Big Moccasin Creek by William Huston on land assigned to him by Thomas McCulloch. McCulloch had established the first Scott County territory settlement there in 1769 but was forced out by Indians. In 1776 Fort Huston was attacked by an Indian force estimated to be near 300.
Porter's Fort was built by Patrick Porter in 1775 on Falling Creek near present Dungannon. He built a grist mill there which was most likely the first mill in Scott County territory.
The other forts were Carter's Fort located in Rye Cove, Duncan's Fort on the Clinch River, Dorton's Fort east of present Nickelsville, the Anderson Blockhouse located near the North Fork of the Holston River and Moccasin Gap and Kilgore's Fort built on the waters of Copper Creek west of Nickelsville.
On November 24, 1814 the Virginia General Assembly signed into law a bill authorizing the formation of Scott County from parts of Washington, Lee and Russell counties. On February 16, 1856 an act was passed forming Wise County from parts of Scott, Lee and Russell counties. Scott county boundaries have not changed since the formation of Wise County.