Mission & History


The Historic Crab Orchard Museum is an educational institution whose mission is to identify, collect, preserve, interpret, and promote the diverse Appalachian cultural heritage of Southwest Virginia and the surrounding region.



The Museum’s Pioneer Park was developed in 1975-78 on land owned by A. Jefferson Higginbotham, Jr.  The nationally registered Crab Orchard Archaeological Site on which it sits was, as best as research can tell, part of a late Woodland period Cherokee community later acquired by Tazewell County’s earliest settlers, the Witten family.  A nonprofit corporation was chartered in 1978 to receive gifts of objects and funds, and the Higginbotham Museum Center was built from 1979-81, funded by state grants to the county.  The Museum Center covers approximately 7,200 square feet, and houses our permanent collection as well as a series of rotating special exhibitions.  The Pioneer Park consists of 15 historic log and stone structures and the Red Barn, an exhibition building also used for community events.  In the 2000s, the museum acquired the 1907 Pisgah Store, which stands across the four lane, and the Frog Level service station, which stands adjacent to the museum.  Since 1983, the 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation has owned and operated the museum through an elected Board of Directors.