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The small scenic towns of Southwest Virginia spotlight the region's coal mining heritage. Experience the environment of these rugged mountain people, and learn about the families who depended on coal mining and the mining town itself for their bread and butter.
Big Stone Gap, in the Heart of Appalachia region, was the location for the first novel in the nation to sell a million copies, "Trail of the Lonesome Pine," written by John Fox Jr., who lived in Big Stone Gap in the late 1890s to early 1900s. Every summer, the town's residents perform this touching love story on an outdoor stage, and the performance has since been designated as Virginia's Official Outdoor Drama.
Another famous author, Adriani Trigiani, is a native of Big Stone Gap, who wrote the contemporary novel "Big Stone Gap" and its sequels about a pharmacist and the townsfolk in her life, many of whom are patterned after real people! Get a map of the locations featured in her book when you visit!
Visit the Harry W. Meador Coal Museum and Miner's Park to learn more about this famous coal mining town and its people.
The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap chronicles the exploration and development of the town and surrounding area. Visit the gift shop for one-of-a-kind items made in the region.
Also in Wise County is the historic town of Appalachia, considered to be one of the few "intact era towns" of the late 1800s-early 1900s and home to "The World's Shortest Railroad Tunnel." Visit the Louis E. Henegar Miners Park with its collection of underground mining equipment.
In the neighboring Russell County, visit Dante, a major coal center during the 1930s, and see the Dante Coal Miners Memorial.
In the next county of Tazewell, visit Pocahontas, Virginia's first coalfield "boom town!" Take a guided tour of the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine & Museum and learn how the coal taken from these mountains provided the energy to make this country great.
You'll enjoy the heritage exhibits, Appalachian crafts and food products found at Historic Crab Orchard Museum Pioneer Park in Tazewell. Native Americans once settled here, and many of the museum's artifacts were unearthed during construction of the highways.
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