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Highland County

In 1847, 416 square miles were carved out of Bath and Pendleton counties and formed into Highland County. The county has one of the highest mean elevations east of the Mississippi River. Highland County is also known as “Virginia’s Switzerland” due to its majestic mountains

The Civil War reached into this remote mountain area in the Battle of McDowell, an important battle in Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign. Today, the McDowell Heritage Days are held every other year in May to commemorate these events. This event was declared a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress in 1999.

The county government is located in the town of Monterey. Monterey was established in 1848 under the name of Highland, but was renamed in honor of the Mexican town where General Zachary Taylor defeated the Mexican Army during the Spanish-American War.

Highland County had an estimated 2,500 residents in 1999, making it the least populated of Virginia’s 135 counties and cities. It is also the most sparsely populated area of the state, and only five counties east of the Mississippi River have more land per person.  Agriculture is still an important aspect of life in Highland County. Wool production is one of Highland’s major agricultural commodities, making the county one of the largest wool-producers in Virginia. In 1990, the county ranked third in the state in the number of sheep. Agri-tourism is a growing source of income in the county, with several farms offering lodging to visitors.

Highland County is also known for the yearly Highland Maple Festival, held two weekends each March since 1958.  Several sugar camps make their home here, and offer tours and demonstrations of the syrup-making process during maple festival. Demonstrations range from old-fashioned methods to the latest modern techniques. The Festival is attended by thousands of tourists and is a major source of income for the county. The Highland Maple Festival has been designated a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress.

The Highland Center was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in January 1998. The Highland Center’s goals can be divided into two broad categories: those related to restoring and utilizing the old school building and those related to building the cultural, economic, educational, and recreational capacity of the community. The Center is home to several incubator businesses and local organizations. The facilities are also used for community events.

The Highland County Public School System educates approximately 300 students in grades K-12 in one building. The system is one of 30 counties in Virginia that is fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning, and one of 18 divisions in Virginia that has achieved Acceptable Yearly Progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind legislation. The public school system has an expenditure of $10,272 per pupil and a staff of 70.



Highland County Arts Council
P. O. Box 175
Monterey, VA 24465 
The Highland Historical Society
Post Office Box 63
McDowell VA 24458


Highland County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 223
Monterey, VA 24465

The Highland Center
P.O. Box 556
Monterey, VA 24465
(540) 468-1922


Highland County Schools
P.O. Box 250
Monterey, VA 24465
540-468-6300 – Superintendent
540-458-6360 – Elementary
540-468-6320 – High School


For emergencies, dial 9-1-1

Highland County Sheriff’s Office
P.O. Box 485
Monterey, VA 24465

Highland Medical Center
P.O. Box 490
Monterey, VA 24465

State Police (emergencies only) 1-800-542-5959


Highland County Board of Supervisors
P.O. Box 130
Monterey, VA 24465

Town of Monterey
P.O. Box 460
Monterey, VA 24465


Highland County Public Library
P.O. Box 519
Monterey, VA 24465


The Recorder Publishing Company
Monterey VA 24465

WVLS-FM 89.7
PO Box 431
Monterey VA 24465
540-468-1234, 1-877-378-9289


Highland County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 223
Monterey, VA 24465



Second Wind Community Programs
P. O. Box 117
Monterey, Va. 24465
540 468-3001



Highland County Humane Society
PO Box 458
Monterey, VA 24465


Highland County Recreation Commission
P.O. Box 428
Monterey, Virginia 24465
Phone: 540-468-3734

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