PRESS RELEASE: Friends of Southwest Virginia & Regional Partners break ground on the High Knob Destination Center in Norton, Virginia


December 16, 2022


Olivia Bailey

Director of Marketing

Friends of Southwest Virginia



Friends of Southwest Virginia & Regional Partners break ground on the High Knob Destination Center in Norton, Virginia

Regional partners with shovels and a box of dirt at the future site of the High Knob Destination Center

 (photo credit: Jana Brickett)


(NORTON, Va. – Dec. 16, 2022) – Friends of Southwest Virginia and the City of Norton, Va. held a celebratory groundbreaking Friday to commemorate construction on the High Knob Destination Center. The visitor center is being built just minutes from downtown off Route 619 at the base of High Knob. It will introduce and educate visitors interested in exploring the rich natural, historical, and recreational assets of the High Knob Region.


“I am very excited this project is underway. We have spent a long time in the planning process,” City of Norton Mayor Joe Fawbush said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors from other states and localities to visit communities across the High Knob and LENOWISCO footprint. We consider Norton the gateway to High Knob.”


The High Knob Destination Center is a project funded through a 2016 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant with funding administered by the City of Norton, Friends of Southwest Virginia, Norton Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, Eastern Federal Lands – Highway Division, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).


The project includes the construction of a 5,300 square foot visitor center and trailhead, parking lot, mapping and wayfinding, interpretive and orientation displays, as well as exhibits about the experiences, natural assets, history, and culture of the High Knob region and the City of Norton. The property will be owned and maintained by the Norton Industrial Development Authority.


“The Norton Industrial Development Authority is proud to assist the Norton City Council on this very important project for both Norton and the wider High Knob Region,” Norton Industrial Development Authority Chairman Byron D. Cantrell said. “We believe this project will be the pivotal link between the outdoor recreation opportunities that High Knob offers and the City’s downtown restaurants and other businesses.”


The High Knob Destination Center capitalizes on the collaborative effort regional leaders and localities have been building to make Southwest Virginia a destination for outdoor recreation. The High Knob Master Plan that was introduced in March 2020 identified various initiatives to connect the natural and cultural assets throughout the City of Norton, Wise County, Scott County, and Lee County to encourage tourism.


“The High Knob Destination Center is an important connective element to the communities in the region to introduce both visitors and local citizens to the world-class recreational assets of our region.” said, Kim Davis, Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia.  “This project will allow the High Knob communities to further tap into the $112 million outdoor recreation industry in Southwest Virginia.”


The High Knob Destination Center is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by the Fall 2023.