Blackford, W. W, and Ritchie & Dunnavant. Map & profile of the Virginia & Tennessee Rail Road. Richmond, lith of Ritchie & Dunnavant, 1856. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/gm72003016/
(download a larger version of this map, a 235 MB tiff file.)
In June of 1855, the Daily Dispatch, a Richmond newspaper, carried a series of stories about a trip to Southwest Virginia. Seventeen members of the Richmond Board of Trade were invited by the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to travel along the rail line to both view the railroad and to see the country that it passed through. The series of articles were written by James A. Cowardin, owner and editor of the Daily Dispatch. He chronicled the travels of the group from Richmond to Lynchburg to Wytheville to Abingdon and points in between. The group visited Saltville and the iron and other ore mines near Wytheville, along with farms and healing spring resorts. It is an early recognition of the mineral and agricultural resources of the region that could be exploited through the completion of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, which would feed both Richmond and Norfolk.
Daily Dispatch, Volume 7, Number 138, 12 June 1855, pg. 3
Correspondence of the Dispatch
Wytheville, June 10th.
The members of the Board of Trade who came out at the invitation of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad Company, and who extended their visit to Abingdon, have returned thus far on their homeward journey. To-morrow they go to the Lead Mines about sixteen miles from this place, and on Tuesday they accept the invitation of the proprietors of the Montgomery White Sulphur Spring, and spend the day there. Wednesday they set out for home.
The country is beautiful and fertile beyond all expectations—excelling in these respects all representations that have been made by its inhabitants. We have enjoyed heartily the pleasing scenes we have beheld and the boundless hospitality of the people, and no man who has the happiness to be one of the party on this delightful excursion will ever forget it. It will constitute a green spot in their lite time that will always be fresh in their memories. C.