Tour 15

Tour 15

Tour 15

Bluefield/Tazewell/Lebanon/Appalachia/Big Stone Gap/Jonesville; 149.2 m. US 19, State 64. Asphal paved roadbed.

Norfolk and Western Ry. parallels route between Bluefield and Norton; Louisville and Nashville R.R. between Norton and Jonesville. Accommodations only in larger towns.

This route winds through the mountains of southwest Virginia, a rugged country with vast coalfields, bluegrass pastures, and fertile farmlands. Mining communities huddle in the valleys; coal dust smears the hillsides; handsome big breasted cattle graze in the clearings. This area, Virginia's last frontier, was not settled till the end of the eighteenth century. Before good roads and industrial developments brought the east and west together, the mountain folk held tenaciously to individualism, feuds, moonshining, old customs and forms of speech. Now, however, Southwest Virginia has transferred its attention from family to political feuds and has enough Republicans to make elections lively and to assure its citizens a good share of State offices.

US 19 crosses the Virginia Line at Bluefield, W.Va. (see West Virginia Guide), into BLUEFIELD, 0 m. (2600 alt., 3,906 pop.), its twin, with which it unites to form a city Of 23,245 persons, Physically inseparable despite civic independence, the towns share the advantages accruing from the presence of fertile land near by and from coal operations in the Poca\-hontas field. Bluefield is at the junction with US 21\_52. I. Left from Bluefield on State 85 to BLUEFIELD COLLEGE, 2 m., a coeducational junior college housed in several red brick buildings on a large campus. The school was established in 102o by the Baptist General Association of Virginia. 2. Right from Bluefield on State 85 to FALLS MILLS, 3.9 m. (300 POP.), 3traddling the Bluestone River. Here General John Toland's troops camped in 1863 on their flight from Wytheville (see Tour 5). POCAHONTAS, 9.8 m. (2,5oo alt., 2,800 POP.), with nondescript frame houses be side huge black shafts, is the focal point of the great Pocahontas semibituminous coal fields. The town sprang into existence around the first mine in the field with the com\-ing of the Norfolk & Western Railroad in 1882. A blacksmith disco~ered this field, used the coal for his forge, and allowed neighbors to dig enough for their homes. His frugal wife, fearing the supply would be exhausted, advised against such wanton gen\-erosity. Today there are 17 large areas of operation in this field.

These operations have an unusual feature. An 18 mile tunnel, supported by huge beams, has been driven along a coal seam to Dry Fork, West Virginia, and drains an area of approximately 12,ooo acres. This outlet for water in mines saves a pumping cost of thousands of dollars annually.

At 10. 1 m. on US 19 is a junction with County 655.

Right here to County 644, 7.4 m., and R. to pass into fertile Abb's Valley, named for Absolom Looney, who discovered it in 1763.

On County 644 at 12.2 m. is the MOORE HOMESTEAD (L), a rambling frame farmhouse near the site of a cabin built by Captain James Moore in 1772. The Moore family's troubles with Indians began in 1784, when their 18 year old son James was captured. In the summer of 1786, a party Of 47 Indians swept down on the cabin and killed Captain Moore, a son, a daughter, and a sick man whose name history failed to record. Mrs.Moore, four children, and a girl visiting the family, Martha Evans, were taken captive. Mrs.Moore and two of the children were killed; while Martha Evans and Mary Moore were sold to a French Canadian family living near the place where James was held captive. The three were finally released, and James Moore returned to Abb's Valley and built a house on the site of his father's cabin.

At 16.9 m. on US ig is a junction with County 645.

Left here to the SITE OF A BOONE CAWN FORT (L), 0.5 m., built by Daniel Boone and several companions on a hunting expedition in 1767/68. A brick farmhouse now occupies the spot. Here later Henry Harman,jr., built the log house in which Tazewell County was organized and where the first court was held.

DIAL ROCK, a prominent crag beyond the house, was so named because its shadow is supposed to tell the time of day. Beyond it (R) is BucKHoRN, a grotesque summit resembling the horns of goats.

By a junction with State 61 at 17.7 m. is the PEERY HOUSE (L), a large frame building, in which Thomas Dunn English was a guest in 1843 when hewrote,'Do You RememberSweet Alice, Ben Bolt.'Captain W.E.Peery, a Confederate veteran, introduced purebred cattle to Clinch Valley.

Also at this intersection is (R) the SITE OF WYNNE'S FORT, now replaced by a frame house. William Wynne, a Friend, settled here in 1772. The Indians never attacked the fort, perhaps because the peace loving Quaker placed no garrison here.

Near this junction was Rocky Dell, the home of Samuel Tynes, whose daughter Molly, pretty and blond, made a daring 40\_mile ride over the mountains in July 1863 to warn the countryside that General Toland was marching toward Wytheville. Having called her news at every farmhouse along the way, she reached Wytheville in time for a company of old men and boys to gather and resist the raiders (see Tour 5)> Molly Mary Elizabeth formally later married her soldier-sweetheart, William D. Davidson, who became a member of the West Virginia Legislature.

Left State 61 to State 78, 4.4 m,, and R. 5.6 m. to the gap giving entrance to BURKE'S GARDEN, a broad oval basin (3,2oo alt.), walled in by ridges that rise about i,ooo feet above it. Beside Garden Creek in the gap is a primitive grist mill operated for the benefit of the farmers on the fertile lands round about. Substantial homes stand amid bluegrass pastures where cattle graze.

At 7.1 m., toward the center of the plateau where the road crosses the Creek, is a tumbledown springhouse (R), near the site of the house built by James Burke, who discovered these lands in 1749 and settled here. In 1756, when Indian fighters led by Andrew Lewis (see Tour 5b) camped near this spot, potatoes were growing in profusion near Burke's abandoned home. Thereafter the plateau was known as Burke's Garden.

In 1774 there was a frontier fortification here called Burke's Fort. In 1781 the wife and children of Thomas Ingles of Burke's Garden were captured by Indians. Ingles and a party of friends rescued Mrs.Ingles, but the children were killed (see Tour 5).

TAZEWELL, 19.5 m. (2,373 alt., 1,211 pop.), is the seat of Tazewell County and financial capital of this agricultural and coal mining region. The substantial homes on the several hills offer convincing evidence of prosperity. After the formation of Tazewell County in 1799, two cOmmuruties had champions in the contest for the seat of government. Those favoring Tazewell argued that here were the prime essentials of a frontier town \_a grist mill and a blacksmith shop. A skull and fist fight settled the controversy. First called Tazewell Courthouse, then Jeffersonville, the town of Tazewell was incorporated in 1866.

The TAZEWELL COURTHOUSE, a severely plain stuccoed building with a large square central unit, a high columned portico, and flanking wings, replaced one destroyed by fire in the 183o's. Tazewell County was formed from parts of Russell and Wythe Counties and named for Henry Tazewell, United States senator from 1794 until 1799.

Stone foundations mark the SITE OF WITTEN'S MILL, built about 1800, by Thomas Witten,jr. This 'tub mill' was a nucleus around which Tazewell grew. A flatroofed, two-story office building, 20 Main Street, stands on the site of a log house that was first an inn, then the home of John Warfield Johnston, United States Senator (1870-83), and father of George Ben Johnston (1853-1900), physician and pioneer in Virginia medical education, who was born in a second Johnston home in Tazewell. Dr.johnston was an early disciple of Lister. He is credited with the first antiseptic operation performed in Virginia. Tazewell County is the birthplace and home of George C. Peery, governor of Virginia from 1934 to 1938

Right from Tazewell on State 81, crossing the railroad tracks, to NORTH TAZEWELL, I m. (6oo pop.), first called 'Kelly,' and now a small commercial center around a railroad station. At 22.2 m. on US 19 is a junction with State 88.

Left from US io on this hardsurfaced road and up a slight grade through PLUM CREEK GAP. When the road was opened here over rough and inaccessible terrain, a judge told the road builders, 'You have put a road where God Almighty never intended one to be placed.'

At 22.5 m. on US 19 is a junction with State 8r.

Left here at 0.3 m. a rounded peak is seen rising in the wide gap on top of the mountain (L), about a mile from the highway. This peak, BATTLE KNOB, was named for a bloody fight between the Cherokee and the Shawnee, who carried on perpetual strife for these hunting lands. The Cherokee fortified themselves on Battle Knob and were able to withstand the attacks of a much larger force of Shawnee. When their ammunition was exhausted during the battle, a runner obtained a fresh supply at Witten's Fort (see below) and thus was made possible victory for the smaller force.

At 6 m. on State 81 is the village of LIBERTY; L. here on County 6o8, 0.4 M., to a lane (L), leading to the SITE OF LOST MILL. In a depression 8o feet deep are a bulging darn, the water wheel foundation, old timbers, and various pieces of machinery. Power was transmitted to the mill by some mechanical arrangement.

At MAIDEN SPRING (L), 8.7 m. on State 81, a remarkable flow of water gushes from the base of a cliff. Above the spring, at 8.9 m. on State 81, is a junction with County 6oo; in the field (R) at this junction is the SITE OF MAIDEN SPRING FORT, built by Reese Bowen, who moved his family here about 1772.

In 1776, when the Indians of the Ohio River Valley came east along the Big Sandy River and terrorized the settlements west of Maiden Spring, Bowen and the other men of the neighborhood went to meet them, leaving their families here. Late one afternoon, Mrs.Bowen, rounding up the cows for the night milking, at the foot of Short Mountain came on imprints of mocassins. Believing that she was being watched, Mrs.Bowen walked calmly home and told the women to dress in men's clothing and take turns at sentry duty outside. Only she, however, and a Negro slave woman dared to carry out the proposal. One carrying a musket and the other a stick shaped like a gun, they guarded the fort all night and apparently succeeded in giving the impression that the fort was well manned; at least there was no attack.

The present BOWEN HOUSE was built in 1838 on the hill above the old site. It incorporates two rooms of Reese Bowen's cabins.

Reconstructed FORT WITTEN (L), 24 m., marks the site of the first settlement in this part of the Clinch Valley. About 1767 Thomas Witten settled here on a tract called Big Crab Apple Orchard and built such a garrisoned house as was customary on the frontier.

At 35.4 m. is a junction with State 84.

Right here to CEDAR BLUFF, 3.5 m. (590 pop.), home of the Cedar Bluff Woolen Mills. Except after fires in 18o8 and 1022, the mill has operated continuously since 1832. Beautifully patterned coverlets are woven here.

just north of RICHLANDS, 5.8 m. (1,926 alt., 1,355 pop.), a coal miners'town, is a large brickmaking plant. Kentuckians, driving their cattle to the Lynchburg market, gave the place its name because of the excellent pastures they found here.

At RAVEN, 9.9 m., State 84 turns north from Clinch Valley to GRUNDY, 39 M. (1,065 alt., &5 pop.), seat and principal settlement of Buchanan County. The buildings of the mountain town stand close together at the fork of the Levisa and Slate Rivers, hemmed in by steep slopes that rise almost from the rivers' edge.

The BUCHANAN COUNTY COURTHOUSE, a three story building of stone, has a tall square clock tower at one corner. Buchanan County, wholly within the Cumberland Mountains, was formed in 1858 from parts of Tazewell and Russell counties and named for President James Buchanan.

At 43.8 m. the highway passes near the SITE OF FORT CHRISTIAN, erected in 1774 by Daniel Smith, surveyor and captain of a military company, stationed in the upper Clinch Valley.

At 52.1 m. is a junction with State 8o.

Left here to the SrTE OF ELK GARDEN FORT (R), 0.9 m. The large brick house just beyond was the home of Henry Carter Stuart, governor of Virginia from 1914 to 1918.

LEBANON, 59.1 m. (2, 13 1 alt., 56o pop.), seat of Russell County, caps a rounded hill beside Cedar Creek. Lebanon, so named because of the cedars in the neighborhood, grew up after the county seat was moved here from Dickensonville in 1816.

The RUSSELL COUNTY COURTHOUSE, is a two story brick building with a high Ionic portico, salvaged from the first courthouse which was completed in 1818 and burned in 1872. A clock tower rises from the center of its roof. Russell County was formed from Washington in 1786 and named for General William Russell, member of the House of Delegates from Washington County who introduced the bill providing for the creation of the new county. The original Russell County was a vast territory, from which six other Virginia counties and a part of West Virginia were eventually taken.

At 60.1 m. is a junction with State 64; straight ahead on State 64 from this point.

DICKENSONVILLE, 69.6 m., a crossroads settlement of several houses, was the first seat of Russell County. When Henry Dickenson, hoping to have an important town bearing his name, offered to build a courthouse for the county, his offer was accepted; his courthouse, built of hewed logs, was 20 feet square, 'furnished with proper seats and a bar.' At 70.8 m. is a junction with State 64; R. here on State 64

On the hill (R) at 75.7 m., above a junction with County 615, is the SITE OF RUSSELL'S FORT, built in 1774 by William Russell, Indian fighter and officer in the Revolution, who was actively engaged in the protection of the frontier in the 1770's. In the latter part of his life Russell married Elizabeth Henry Campbell, sister of Patrick Henry and widow of General William Campbell (see Tour 5). ST.PAUL, 81 m. (1,486 alt., 7 16 pop.), is a railroad junction and a lively shopping center that grew up near the old Wheeler's Ford on the Clinch River. Here, in the 1770's, was Moore's Fort. In the 18go's a promotion company, anticipating the construction of a railroad, acquired land on both sides of the river and proposed to establish twin cities, to be named St.Paul and Minneapolis. The company paid Sioc, to the postmaster of another St.Paul, in Carroll County, for the exclusive use of the name, and laid out streets; but the project was abandoned when the financing of the railroad failed. It was not until the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railway was built in 1904 that St.Paul began to grow.

In 179o, Baron Fran\'a7ois Pierre de Tubeuf, a French political exile, traded houses in London to one Richard Smith for 55,000 acres of land in this neighborhood. The next year Tubeuf arrived with his wife, a son, and servants, and among other supplies, a pair of specially made boots designed as a protection against snakes. In 1794 two visitors killed Tubeuf, his wife, and all the servants except one maid, who escaped but was drowned during her flight. Alexandre de Tubeuf, the son, was left for dead but recovered. The house was stripped of its valuables and burned by the brigands. Later the men were captured and placed in the Abingdon jail, from which they freed themselves.

In St.Paul is a junction with State 70; L. here on State 70.

At VIRGINIA CITY, 83.5 m., local coal was first made into coke.

COEBURN, 94.4 m. (1,983 alt., 785 pop.), is a railroad junction and mining center by the Guest River. The settlement, first called Guest's Station, was incorporated in 1894 and supposedly named for an engineer named Coe and a judge named Burn.

NORTON, 105.4 m. (2,138 alt., 3,077 pop.), trade and shipping center in a region of large coal mining operations, is hemmed in by steep slopes. It spreads out along one principal street, which parallels the railroad tracks. First called Prince's Flats for William Prince, who settled here in 1787, the town changed its name in the 1890's. Norton is so close to a coal seam that it is possible for families to dig their winter's supply of fuel from the cellars of their homes. In June, when rhododendron covers the neighboring hills with its beauty, Norton sponsors a Rhododendron festival. Scenes of Indian and festival pioneer days are reenacted; 'King Coal' reigns; and the usual 'princesses' are in evidence. I. Right from Norton on US 23 to WISE, 4.5 m. (2,474 alt., 1,112 POP.), seat of Wise County, and shopping center for mountain folk and miners. The early settlement here was called Big Glades, then Gladeville. The WISE COUNTY COURTHOUSE, a large winged brick building, built in 1865 and added to in 1897 and 1915, supplanted a log structure built in T858 and burned by Federal troops in 1864. Behind the courthouse was the whipping post used during the first years of the county. In 189 2 a scaffold was erected here on which seven men were hanged for murder, one of whom was Talt Hall, notorious bad man of the Cumberlands. Wise County was formed in 1856 from Lee, Scott, and Russell Counties and named for Henry A. Wise, then governor of Virginia. Before the I 8oo's, when railroads began to steam their way through the narrow valleys, the mountain folk of Wise County were governed largely by the code of the hills. Rugged individualists, they settled their difficulties without recourse to the law, made and sold their'mountain dew,'and viewed all'furriners , with suspicion. POUND, 15.9 m. (218 pop.), is a scattered village named for a pounding mill built here in 1815 by James Mullins. Here in 1935 Edith Maxwell, a young school teacher, was Charged with killing her father when she struck him as he sought to punish her for staying out late at night. The code of the hills, as interpreted in the newsrooms, furnished a basis for many sensational stories. Edith Maxwell was convicted, retried, and sentenced to serve 20 years. Right from Pound 11.5 m. on State 5o to CLINTWOOD (800, pop.), seat of Dickenson County. This was the settlement of Holly Creek before the establishment of the county government here in 1882.

The DICKENSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE, a tall two story brick building with wings, a clock cupola, and a two story portico, was erected soon after 188o. Dickenson was formed from parts of Wise, Buchanan, and Russell Counties and named for W.J.Dickenson, a member of the Virginia general assembly at the time. The present Dickenson County area, in the Sandy River Valley and called the 'Basin of the Sandy,' was not settled until after 1816 when 'Fighting Dick' Colley built a cabin at Sand Lick. Before the settlements were made, however, the Sandy Valley had long been hunting grounds for the white men, as was evidenced by two trees that bore the legends 'D. Boone 176-,' the other'D.Boone 1771.' On State 59, at 35 m., by the mouth of the McClure River, is HAYSI (500 POP.), serving as a trading point for a large territory in both Dickenson and Buchanan Counties. It was named for Charles M. Hayter and a Mr.Sypher, partners in a small store here. Left from Haysi, 8 m. on State 8o, to the BREAKS OF SANDY (L), a series of rapids in the gap cut through the Cumberland Mountains by the Big Sandy River on its way to join the Ohio River at Ashland, Ky. West of Pound, US 23 climbs through Pound Gap in the Cumberland Mountains, the country of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. In the hollows of this slope John Fox, Jr., found the characters for his book, which portrayed the life of the Cumberland Mountain people. The Wright and Mullens families were among the prototypes of Fox's characters. 'Devil' John Wright, a patriarch who was married three times and was the father Of 37 children, was 'Jud Tolliver' of the story. 'Devil John' spent his last years in a cabin that stood about half way up the slope. just left of the place where the highway crosses the crest of the mountain, stood, until a few years ago, the huge evergreen known to mountain folk as the Lonesome Pine. Until the end of the nineteenth century the long mountain rifle took its toll here. In 1892 Ira Mullens, his wife, a daughter, and a friend, riding in a wagon, were shot from ambush in this pass. Mullens' small son rolled off the wagon and escaped. The women's breasts were slashed away and the Nlullens' possessions were looted. Marshall Taylor, physician, minister, and Federal marshal, and Calvin and Henon Fleming were accused of the crime. Calvin Fleming was killed and Henon wounded in a gun battle with officers; Henon Fleming was brought to trial and acquitted. Dr. Taylor had himself crated and secretly shipped by freight to Bluefield, W.Va., but he was captured, convicted of murder, and hanged. On the scaffold he preached a sermon and predicted his resurrection in three days. His family waited five days before burying the body. At the CREST, 20.5 m., US 23 crosses the Kentucky Line, I mile east of Jenkins, Ky. (see Kentucky Guide).

2. Left from Norton, State 73 passes through BENGE'S GAP, named for a halfbreed Indian leader who used it for raids into the neighboring valleys. At BENGE's ROCK, I m., a large boulder (R), Benge was ambushed and killed in 11794 as he and his party returned from a raid along the Clinch and Holston Rivers. The highway climbs the mountain to an unmarked dirt road, 4.1 m.; R. here 1.1 m. HIGH KNOB, from which many square miles of territory are visible. APPALACHIA, 116.6 m. (1,900 alt., 3,595 pop.), is a mining town at a junction with three railroads. Right from Appalachia on State 67, which follows Looney Creek and winds up Black Mountain, to the crest, 8.8 m., providing an extensive view of the Cumberlands. State 67 crosses the Kentucky Line 9 miles east of Cumberland,Ky. (see Kentucky Guide). BIG STONE GAP, 120 m. (1,455 alt., 3,9o8 pop.), built compactly about a business district on two crossing streets, is at the southern end of the pass cut through Stone Mountain by the Powell River. The town's substantial activity is dependent on mining in the neighborhood. Because the town site was at the gap and the junction of three forks of the river, it was a strategic spot when three railroads came into the coal fields in the 1890's. The settlement here, first called Three Forks, then Imboden, was chartered as Mineral City in 1882 and assumed its present name in 1888. The HOME OF JOHN Fox,JR., 746 Shawnee St., is a low shingled cottage, still occupied by members of the Fox family. Here lived the author who gave the world its first, though somewhat idealized, story of life in these mountains. From 1894 until 1913 a dozen romances of the hills followed each other in quick succession. The first two were only mildly successful, but Hell for Sartin (1896) received National attention. The whole country then wept over the plight of The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1903), read breathlessly Christmas Eve on Lonesome (1904), fell in love with'June' and fought with the Tollivers in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, then sang the geographically inaccurate song, 'In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, on the Trail of the Lonesome Pine

In 1908 Fox married Fritzi Scheff , a winsome light opera star in her heyday. As Mademoiselle Modiste, she had set young and old to singing 'Kiss Me Again' and had dazzled the world with jewels, gowns, pompadour, wasp waist, and sprightly charm. She had divorced her Baron von Bardeleben and married Fox after a courtship of less than 24 hours. When she followed the new husband to Big Stone Gap, she arrived with, servants and with trunks that aging natives now declare to have been 8o in number. Perhaps Fritzi Scheff was disappointed to find the hills not as romantic as they had been portrayed; at any rate, she soon departed. The FEDERAL ART GALLERY, the first of its kind in the State, opened in the Big Stone Gap Elementary School on March 4, 1936.

PENNINGTON GAP, 141.2 m. (I,460 alt., 1,553 pop.), is the trade center of a prosperous trucking country. Right from Pennington Gap on State 66 to NIGGER HEAD ROCK, 3 m., an immense rock jutting out from the mountain, which has the profile of a head, neck, and shoulders. JONESVILLE, 149.2 M. (384 POP.) (see Tour 7), is at a junction with US 58.