Isle of Wight museum named Virginia’s 2022 Travel Attraction of the Year

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association has selected the Isle of Wight County Museum as its 2022 Travel Attraction of the Year.

The award was one of several “Ordinary Awards” given at a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Short Pump on Oct. 3.

The awards are named for Chinn’s Ordinary, an inn built around 1728 at Chinn’s Crossroads – now Middleburg, Virginia – that is considered to be the oldest original inn in the United States. An “ordinary,” according to, is a historic term for a meal served to all comers at a fixed price or a tavern or eating house serving regular meals.

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“It was such a huge honor to be selected as a finalist, and as the 2022 winner,” said Museum Director Jennifer England. “The museum – staff, supporters, community fans and artifacts – are over the moon. As a small museum, recognition means so much.”

The museum, located in the heart of downtown Smithfield at 103 Main St., is perhaps best known as home to the world’s oldest ham.

In 1902, one of P.D. Gwaltney Jr.’s Smithfield hams was overlooked and, for 20 years, hung from a rafter inside a packing house. When Gwaltney found it in the 1920s, he fashioned a brass collar for it, called it his “pet” and toured it around the country, touting it as the world’s oldest ham and evidence of the preservative powers of his curing method.

The museum gained custody of the ham in 1985, and it remains preserved under glass. A 24/7 “ham cam” keeps watch over the ham, with the live feed streamed to the museum’s website.

England accepted the award carrying with her a 3D-printed model of the ham.

The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, according to its Facebook page, serves as the unified voice for Virginia’s restaurant, lodging, travel and hospitality suppliers associations.