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Top 5 Smith Mountain Lake Historical Sites (That Aren’t Museums)

History enthusiasts are no stranger to the allure of a museum, but sometimes there are historical experiences that museums simply can’t capture. Here’s our list of great Smith Mountain Lake history spots to visit in the area that aren’t museums.

Peaks of Otter

Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this town and its majestic mountains hold the historic Peaks of Otter Lodge and Johnson Farm. For those who can’t resist visiting a visitor center, the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center has plentiful information on the Native American tribes and cultures that made their home along what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Smith Mountain Lake History at the Booker T. Washington National Monument

On the western side of Smith Mountain Lake is the Booker T. Washington National Monument, the historic plantation property where Booker T. Washington began life as a slave and was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation at 9 years old. He would rise to become one of the most influential people in our country as a principal, orator, author, and presidential advisor. Historic reenactments of life on the plantation are performed onsite to give you a better glimpse of the history of Smith Mountain Lake Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

The Founding Father’s octagonal Poplar Forest home is a monument to his architectural genius (having designed the property himself) as well as to his intellectual achievements. The lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked on Jefferson’s plantation are also documented and explored.

Appomattox Court House

This famous Civil War site where Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his army surrendered to Union General (and eventual President) Ulysses S. Grant is located just a short drive from Smith Mountain Lake. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865 effectively ended the Civil War.

Smith Mountain Lake Dam

You and your guests can learn more about the history of Smith Mountain Lake Virginia by visiting the hydroelectric dam that created Smith Mountain Lake using the waters of the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers. Plans for the dam began as early as the 1920s, though the dam was ultimately delayed until 1960. The lake as we know it today was completed in 1966, with later additions to its hydroelectric system.

Premier Vacation Rentals – Your Smith Mountain Lake Vacation Experts

Contact our office for more information on these amazing Smith Mountain lake history sites and other neat attractions and activities you can enjoy during your time in Smith Mountain Lake when you reserve your stay with us today!