Austinville – The railroad extension moved on to the lead and zinc mines of Austinville. The mines were founded in 1753 by Col. John Chiswell, who reportedly discovered lead in an area cave as he was hiding from the Indians. The town was founded by Moses Austin, known as the founder of the American lead industry, who moved to Wythe County and acquired the mines in 1790. He provided lead for the roof of the capital building in Richmond. His son, Stephen F. Austin, was born in Austinville, but after failed business dealings the family moved to Missouri. Stephen eventually led a group of 300 families to colonize the Texas territories and is now known as the “Father of Texas.”
The Austinville Mines are the longest operating mine in the country, closing in 1981.