Big Stone Gap

Come to Big Stone Gap and discover “A Little Town with a Big Story.” The inspiration for the novel, Big Stone Gap, by Adriana Trigiani, shows that good old-fashioned southern hospitality and a warm sense of humor aren’t simply works of fiction in this lovely, Victorian-era town. The lush, green mountains provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy our history, culture, and nature.


Visit the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park to experience “the story” first-hand. Participate in the “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” Outdoor Drama and see the early days of the “boom and bust” come to life! Delve deeper into coal mining history at the Meador Coal Museum. Don’t forget to visit the historic home of John Fox Jr., the June Tolliver House, the Interstate 101 Historic Train Car, or the Lonesome Pine School and Heritage Museum.

Bring your bikes and ride our Greenbelt on the scenic Powell River. Go hiking at Roaring Branch in the Jefferson National Forest, or enjoy the other national forest sites that surround Big Stone Gap! Take a short trip to Natural Tunnel State Park and view the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Hear Old-Time and Bluegrass music at various venues in the area! Big Stone Gap is the perfect place for your mountain vacation!

The Big Stone Gap story began with the Cherokee, Iroquois, Wyandotte, and Shawnee Indians who found the present-day area of Southwest Virginia a hunter’s paradise. Game such as elk, turkey, deer, bear, and buffalo were abundant. The 18th century saw the arrival of early hunters and explorer’s such as Dr. Thomas Walker, Ambrose Powell, Elisha Walden, and Daniel Boone. Three Forks, the earliest recorded name for Big Stone Gap, soon became a thoroughfare for early pioneer trails.

During the 1870s, much was published about the mineral and timber resources of the Appalachian Mountains. General John Imboden focused on Three Forks as the location for industrial development, touting it as the “new Pittsburgh of the south.” The town, which was then called “Mineral City” was incorporated as Big Stone Gap in 1882. Developers flocked to Big Stone Gap, including Rufus Ayers, the Goodloe and Wood brothers, the Slemp and the Fox family in the early years seeking prosperity.

John Fox, Jr. Home and Museum, ©Tim & Angel Cox

John Fox Jr. wrote about his experiences in “The Gap” and the surrounding region in his 12 novels and 45 short stories. He became the most popular American novelist of his time and immortalized Big Stone Gap in his novel “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” In modern times, Big Stone Gap is best known for a series of novels by hometown author Adriana Trigiani. Many of the town’s attractions are featured in Trigiani’s books, Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon. Stop by the tourist Information center located in the Interstate 101 Car as you enter town from US 23 and pick up your free map to the novel’s setting when you come to town!

In addition to the two best-selling authors, the town has produced the private secretary to President Calvin Coolidge, a Governor of Virginia, numerous artisans and musicians, a Grammy-winning recording studio, two NFL running backs, and many others who have contributed to our state, nation, and world!

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