The Clinch River is the crown of the mountain empire flowing southwestward from its origin near the town of Tazewell, the Clinch travels some 135 miles, reaching portions of Tazewell, Russell, Wise, and Scott counties on its way to the Tennessee state line. In a cast of Virginia rivers that portray history and natural wealth, the Clinch has a story and a character all its own.
Named after an otherwise forgotten explorer, the Clinch played a major role in the exploration and settlement of Southwest Virginia. Many early settlers made their homes along its eastern shore, while others crossed the formidable flow and explored the wilderness beyond its banks. Probably the most famous explorer to pace the banks of the Clinch and challenge its currents was Daniel Boone. Boone resided for some time near Castlewood, and negotiated the river during his many trips through Southwest Virginia.
Today, the river is nationally known as a biodiversity hotspot. The Clinch contains the nation’s greatest concentration of rare and imperiled freshwater animals. Supporting up to 46 species, at least 24 of which are in danger of extinction, the Clinch River is habitat to rare mussels, colorful minnows and darters, and excellent sport fish.
UVA-Wise students have created a rich online Clinch River Biodiversity Guide to animals and plants of the region. Use your mobile device to follow trails they’ve mapped across the region, and post your own species sightings, contributing to the database as a citizen scientist.