Marion, Virginia

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Town of Marion, Virginia
The Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia.
The Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia.
Official seal of Town of Marion, Virginia
Motto: Your Home In The Heart of the Highlands
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Virginia
County Smyth
 • Mayor David Helms
 • Total 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 • Land 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 2,172 ft (662 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 6,349
 • Density 1,528/sq mi (590.1/km2)
  U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Population Estimates
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 24354
Area code(s) 276
FIPS code 51-49464[1]
GNIS feature ID 1498513[2]

Marion is a town in Smyth County, Virginia, United States.[3] The population was 5,968 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat. The town is named for American Revolutionary War officer Francis Marion.


Marion is one of only a few towns to receive designation as an official Virginia Main Street Community and National Main Street Community. The Lincoln Theatre, a meticulously renovated Art-Deco Mayan Revival style performing arts center in Marion, is the home of the nationally syndicated bluegrass music program Song of the Mountains. The General Francis Marion Hotel has also been completely restored and serves the town as a AAA Three-Diamond boutique hotel. The town also hosts ArtWalk with local artists and musicians, held on the second Friday of each month May through December.


Marion is located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (36.8370, -81.5165).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.7 km²), all of it land.

Marion is near Hungry Mother State Park.

Marion holds the state record low for the month of May at 15 degrees and the second lowest recorded April temperature in the state at 10.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 445
1870 368 −17.3%
1880 919 149.7%
1890 1,651 79.7%
1900 2,045 23.9%
1910 2,727 33.3%
1920 3,253 19.3%
1930 4,156 27.8%
1940 5,177 24.6%
1950 6,982 34.9%
1960 8,385 20.1%
1970 8,158 −2.7%
1980 7,287 −10.7%
1990 6,858 −5.9%
2000 6,339 −7.6%
2010 5,968 −5.9%
Est. 2014 5,875 [5] −1.6%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 6,349 people, 2,647 households, and 1,614 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,528.3 people per square mile (590.7/km²). There were 2,865 housing units at an average density of 689.6 per square mile (266.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.98% White, 5.94% African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.52% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.13% of the population.

There were 2,647 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 36.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the town the population was spread out with 19.4% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 20.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $25,609, and the median income for a family was $34,257. Males had a median income of $27,960 versus $22,027 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,372. About 13.2% of families and 18.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.2% of those under age 18 and 17.9% of those age 65 or over.


Marion College, a two-year Lutheran women's college, operated from 1873 to 1967. Marion College, constructed in 1968 and named in honor of Francis Marion, is a women's residence hall at Roanoke College.

Marion is known for being the birthplace of the soft drink Mountain Dew, but the original drink was created in Knoxville, Tennessee.[7] Although Mountain Dew was first marketed under that name in Knoxville, the original soft drink’s formula changed drastically from Knoxville’s formula to the syrup mixture that constitutes today’s drink. In 1961, the rights to Mountain Dew were purchased by the Marion-based Tip Corporation. The Mountain Dew flavor was reworked by Marion resident William H. "Bill" Jones. Due to the success of the revised formulation, the Pepsi Corporation purchased the Tip Corporation in 1964.[8][9] Marion also hosted the Mountain Dew Festival for more than 50 years.[10]

In 1965, after graduating from Alvin High School, one of Major League Baseball's Hall of Famer pitchers, Nolan Ryan, signed a professional baseball contract with the New York Mets, and was assigned to a minor league team in the Appalachian League called the Marion Mets (1965–1976) in Marion, Virginia. Three years later Ryan pitched in the major leagues, debuting with the Mets in 1968.

R. T. Greer and Company, Henderson Building, Hotel Lincoln, Hungry Mother State Park Historic District, Lincoln Theatre, Marion Historic District, Marion Male Academy, Norfolk & Western Railway Depot, Preston House, and the Abijah Thomas House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[11]

Notable people

Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941), American author of the celebrated novel Winesburg, Ohio, is buried at Round Hill Cemetery in Marion. His grave marker reads, "Life not death is the great adventure." The house he shared with his wife, Eleanor Copenhaver Anderson, known as "Rosemont" was torn down to build a new fire station.

Bill Jones invented the soft drink Mountain Dew in Marion.

Resident Steve "Chicken" Morris was a contestant on Survivor: China. He was the first contestant voted out.

STEAM Education, an international educational company owned by its founder is based in Marion, VA.


The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Marion has a marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. "Population Finder: Marion, Virginia". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  7. Mountain Dew - The Official Site
  8. Maddry, Larry (1994-08-06). "Reprinted Article: Soft drink finally gets its Dew from small Virginia town". Virginian Pilot. Norfolk, VA. Retrieved 2014-12-23. 
  9. Byrd, Kimberly; Williams, Debra (2005). Smyth County, Virginia (Images of America Series). Arcadia Publishing. 
  10. [Reprinted article by Glenna Elledge, Wednesday 7/27/94 issue of Smyth County News:]
  11. Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  12. Climate Summary for Marion, Virginia