Named for its site by the “narrows” of the New River, where it passes between Peters and East River mountains, the town was settled in the late eighteenth century. Originally a small crossroads community at the intersection of the Pearisburg-Tazewell Turnpike (now VA 61) and the Cumberland Gap Turnpike (VA 100), Narrows experienced a surge of development with the arrival of the railroad networks in 1884. Although repeatedly ravaged by floods and fires, the town retains a number of architecturally interesting buildings. In the 1890s, the Union Tanning Company, one of the county's early industries, developed on a hill overlooking Narrows. The relatively flat hilltop was filled with brick and frame storage and processing buildings, along with railroad sidings, while the steep hillsides—not otherwise conducive to development—served as the sites of workers' houses.
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