One of the state's smallest counties, Craig is located against the Allegheny Plateau and on the border with West Virginia. Steep ridges and narrow valleys define the county, which was cobbled together in 1851 from mountainous parts of Botetourt, Roanoke, Giles, and Monroe (now West Virginia) counties. Much of Craig's mountain lands are contained within the Jefferson National Forest, providing recreational opportunities for hikers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Valleys on the north, south, and east sides of the county, drained by tributaries of the James River, are blessed with mineral deposits. In these areas, iron furnaces and mining camps offered the principal sources of income for area residents. Only a limited number of creek bottoms had sufficient arable land for small-scale agricultural efforts. Tin roofs painted bright red are a common sight on the farmsteads in the county. Deviating from this pattern is Sinking Creek Valley, a wide valley in the central and western parts of the county with more fertile farmland. Here, larger farms produced higher yields and greater agricultural wealth for widely dispersed rural families. A few small, informal springs resorts—one or two of which still offer accommodations—are nestled in the narrow valleys. Architecture in the valleys is in some ways linked more closely with the building traditions of Southwest Virginia than with those of the Highlands Region.
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