Wise County Virginia was taken by surprise during the coal boom of the 1890s and forced to accept a new way of life. The coal mining industry facilitated the development of Big Stone Gap and neighboring towns in Wise County. Three historical museums, Harry W. Meador, Jr. Museum, John Fox, Jr. Museum, and the Southwest Virginia Museum, attempt to teach visitors the area’s rich coal-mining heritage. For a cultural outdoor drama chronicling the impact of coal on life and love, experience Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
The Harry W. Meador, Jr. Coal Museum celebrates the coal mining industry that boomed in Wise County. The Coal Mine Museum is dedicated to Harry W. Meador, Jr. who was a strong advocate of the coal-mining industry and executive of a local coal company. The museum features a collection of photographs, mining equipment and tools, office equipment, and coal company memorabilia. The rich educational experience of the museum expresses the direct influence coal mining had on local lifestyles. The museum is open Monday through Sunday, and admission is free of charge.
John Fox, Jr. Museum is located at the former residence of the famous mountain author, most noted for his novel “Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” which has since been designated Virginia’s Official Outdoor Drama. “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” was the first novel in the nation to sell in excess of one million copies. Additional works of John Fox, Jr. include “The Little Shepard of Kingdom Come” and “A Knight of the Cumberland.” John Fox, Jr. was not only an author, but also an outdoorsman who worked with Teddy Roosevelt as a rough rider. Today, the house originally built in 1888, a Virginia Historical Landmark, serves as both a museum and memorial to the Fox family. The museum is open between the Memorial and Labor Day holidays between the hours of 2 pm and 6 pm Thursday through Saturday.
The Southwest Virginia Museum lies in a mansion that was built in the 1880s. The purpose of this Coal Mine Museum is to educate tourists about the exploration and development of the town of Big Stone Gap and its surrounding areas during the coal boom of the 1890s. More than 20,000 pieces of artifacts are housed in the museum, one third of which are on display at any given time. Walking tours, children’s programs and activities, and workshops are offered to visitors of the museum. The museum is open day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. After Labor Day, the museum remains open until December 31 but is closed on Mondays. Additionally, the museum is closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and the months of January and February. Admission fees are minimal.
All museums described above are within 1.5 hours of The Journey’s Inn.
To find out more about these three area attractions, please visit their individual websites through the links above.
For more information about The Journey’s Inn, call 276-328-6876 or 1-800-359-4049, e-mail us, or use our online request form