The mission of the High Knob Enhancement Corporation (a not for profit organization) is to promote the enhancement and use of High Knob and surrounding areas in the counties of Wise and Scott, Virginia, and the City of Norton, Virginia, in order to create a major tourist destination for visitors seeking premier outdoor recreational and educational experiences.
History of High Knob Tower and the HKEC
The original High Knob Firetower was a 14 foot by 14 foot wooden house built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938-39 atop 4200-foot High Knob of Stone Mountain on the border of Wise and Scott Counties in Southwest Virginia. Later, this original building was replaced by the tower our community came to love: a three-story structure built by the Flatwoods Job Corps in 1978-79.
Like other fire towers, the purpose of the structure was to provide a vantage point from which the surrounding countryside could be surveyed in search of forest fires. Soaring well above the surrounding mountains, the High Knob Firetower did its job well, providing views of Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
On Halloween 2007, the High Knob tower was destroyed by an arsonist. Although Forest Service employees and local fire departments rushed to the scene, the firetower was already engulfed in flames and could not be saved.
Public efforts to rebuild the tower began almost as soon as the flames were quenched. This community support coalesced into the High Knob Enhancement Corporation, which was chartered in 2008 to rebuild the tower and enhance the High Knob region. The High Knob Enhancement Corporation and the USDA Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which establishes in general terms the co-operative relationship of the two groups as they work collaboratively on initiatives that mutually benefit their mission and objectives, including the development and rebuilding of the High Knob Observation Tower (reopened in 2014) and associated facilities and projects.