The Wilderness Road Regional Museum, a two-story building located about a mile from Interstate 81 in the heart of Newbern, Virginia, has been owned and operated by the New River Historical Society since April 16, 1980. Originally, the museum building had been two separate homes that belonged to the Hance-Alexander family, and these two homes served dual purposes as residences and businesses for several years. Some of these business establishments included a tavern, general store, and the first Newbern post office.
Today the museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the New River Valley and Southwest Virginia through tours of the museum and special exhibits, through "It Takes a Village Workshops", through History Homeschool Days, Summer Camps, and numerous special events throughout the year. Visitors can truly experience history at the museum and others sites included in the Historic District of Newbern. Guided walking tours are available along with scheduled appointments to view the archives or other holdings of the museum.
The Museum’s Archives include a wide range of primary documents, including letters, business records, store ledgers, family records, and legal records that date from as early as the middle years of the eighteenth century in the area of Pulaski County, Virginia. This treasury tells the story of this place and its people from the time of its founding on the American frontier through the twentieth century. Unique in scope, the Archives include documents related to early settlement, to slavery in the pre-Emancipation era, to farming during the late nineteenth century, and to the industrialization and de-industrialization of the region.
The Wilderness Road Regional Museum also offers on site and classroom visits by museum staff and interns. Our costumed interpreter will make history come alive through interactive lessons that focus on the role of the Wilderness Road in our nation’s history. The lessons are aligned with state standards for history and social studies.
The museum complex includes the large Alexander-Hance home, a rebuilt exterior log kitchen, an original 1818 German barn, a log loom house, carriage house, log corn crib, small interpretive herb and kitchen gardens, the courthouse site and 1848 original brick jail for Pulaski County. Earthen remains of Fort Hill on the New River are also part of the museum's stewardship and special tours can be arranged to visit that site as well.
Wilderness Road Regional Museum is always free to visit. Special events, classes, and other educational outreach programs throughout the year are fee based, but donations are what truly keep the doors open. Please consider donating and helping our organization share and preserve the history of all that call the New River Valley home. A minimum of $5 can help in many ways. One of our immediate needs is the conservation of the 19th century Carriage House. This historic structure is in need of a new standing seam roof and new exterior lap boards. The carriage house helps share the story of Newbern and it's role as a planned village along the Wilderness Road and Stagecoach route of the 1800s. The carriage house and other structures on-site at the museum, allow for programming and exhibits to share the diverse and rich history of the New River Valley.