History

town_RussellCo-CourthouseLocated in the rolling hills of Clinch Mountain, the Town of Lebanon serves as the county seat for Russell County in Southwest Virginia. Nearly 200 years old, Lebanon was established by the General Assembly as the Town of Lebanon on January 15, 1819, and was chartered January 4, 1831. The many cedar trees in the area are believed to have inspired the town’s name, drawn from the biblical reference, “Cedars of Lebanon.”

For many decades, farming and coal mining drove our economy. However by 1988, Lebanon was struggling due to a downturn in the coal industry. Unemployment rates rose to 14 percent, and many laid-off coal miners as well as talented high school and college graduates had to leave to find jobs.

This mass exit was alarming to town leaders, and they knew drastic measures had to be taken. Over time, a master plan emerged to transform Lebanon into a knowledge-based economy that would no longer be dependent on coal and agriculture.

An initial step was to construct a new $8 million industrial park – to be called the Cumberland Plateau Regional Industrial Park. This was followed by the addition of a world-class, all-fiber-optic broadband network, CPC OptiNet, being brought in – thanks to a partnership between the local Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and the Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority.

Over the next decade, more creative partnering between the leaders of Lebanon and Russell County and strong support from regional, state and federal leaders and agencies eventually led to a realization of our “master plan.”

Today, Lebanon thrives as a high-tech business hub with two Fortune 500 companies operating within our town borders: AT&T and Northrop Grumman. Other companies also operating here include CGI-AMS, one of the largest technology and business services firms in North America. We’ve also constructed a new Southwest Virginia Technology Development Center to ensure that adequately trained workers would always be available for current and new businesses.

While we once faced an uncertain future, Lebanon is now positioned for growth and more growth. Come join us!

Key historic sites in Lebanon:

Elk Garden Church – The second-oldest church in Russell County, located near the original fort on Clinch River Frontier.

Jessee's Mill – Jessee's Mill began operation over 200 years ago, predating the census and tax records of 1790. The mill was the primary source for ground agricultural products and other trading in the Mill Creek Area. The site is located on Jessee's Mill Road, State Route 645, north of Route 71, between Lebanon and Cleveland.