The town of Rural Retreat and its surrounding communities lie on the western plateau of Wythe County. The first pioneering families settled within the present boundaries of Wythe County around 1743. Many were of German and Scotch-Irish descent from Pennsylvania. Wythe County was once a part of Augusta County, which was formed in 1745 from Orange County and had boundaries from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Mississippi River. In 1756, lead was discovered in the area and its importance as the only substantial source to the American colonies became evident. In 1770, Augusta County was subdivided to form Botetourt County, which later became Fincastle and Montgomery Counties. Wythe County, named for the famous jurist and statesman George Wythe, was organized from Montgomery County in 1790. The flourishing German settlement, once known as Mt. Airy, in the county's western section became Rural Retreat.

During the 1890s, a druggist named Dr. Charles Pepper owned and operated a drugstore in Rural Retreat. The Dr. Pepper soft drink was named after Dr. Charles Pepper. The Rural Retreat Drug Store building was destroyed in a fire of unknown origin on April 18, 1999. 

The first public high school in Rural Retreat began in 1887 as a two-story building with two classrooms. Rural Retreat High School graduated its first two students in 1905. Fifty-six years later, in 1961, a new high school building housing classrooms, offices, and library facilities were completed; a new gym complex and additional classrooms were added in 1983. In 1985, a renovated classroom became the high school's first computer room. The auditorium was renovated in 1997 using money donated by Dr. Davis, a former RRHS graduate. In 2010, the school underwent a capital improvement project to completely renovate the building. It included updates to the school's classrooms, gymnasium, auditorium, offices, and the creation of a new band room and computer lab. 

The year 1987 marked Rural Retreat High School's Centennial, a century of pride in education offered to the students of Wythe County from the areas of Rural Retreat, Crockett, Black Lick, Cripple Creek, Speedwell, and Cedar Springs. Today the school continues to be a stepping stone for the future for citizens of Wythe County and the world.


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