Wise in Wise County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
—The Crooked Road — Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail —
The coal and lumber industries have shaped life in Wise since the late 1800s, and significant natural gas reserves in the County are likely to influence its future. Music of Coal, a landmark collection of recorded songs inspired by the lives of the people who mine the region’s bituminous coal, was locally produced by the Lonesome Pine Office on Youth. It includes “Explosion at Derby Mine,” chronicling the nearby mine disaster in 1934 that killed 17 miners. Survivors escaped through an abandoned shaft. Two men at the mine mouth survived being hurled 150 feet by the blast.
In 1954, Clinch Valley College was formed here in the County seat and provided valuable access to higher education in the coalfields region. Dr. Papa Joe Smiddy, a devoted educator and much loved old time banjo player served as biology professor, Director, and Chancellor from 1954 to 1985. In 1999 the school became known as the University of Virginia's College at Wise.
Central to the cultural life of the
The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Coalfields region, southwest Virginia is blessed with historic and contemporary music venues, musicians, and fretted instrument makers. Historically isolated, the region retained its strong musical legacy by passing traditions down through musical families to an appreciative community.
Old time mountain music, bluegrass, and gospel can be enjoyed all year long and several museums are devoted to showcasing the area’s rich musical heritage.
The Crooked Road winds through the ruggedly beautiful Appalachian Mountains and leads you to the major hotspots of old time mountain, music country music, and bluegrass. Alive and kickin’ for today’s fans, these venues preserve and celebrate musical traditions passed down through generations. Annual festivals, weekly concerts, radio shows, and jam sessions ring out to large audiences and intimate gatherings. Please visit the Crooked Road website to plan your trip to coincide with the current entertainment events.
Marker series. This marker is included in the The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail marker series.
Location. 36° 58.581′ N, 82° 34.687′ W. Marker is in Wise, Virginia, in Wise County. Marker is at the intersection of East Main Street (County Route 640) and Tacoma Avenue SE on East Main Street. Touch for map. It is at the bottom of the parking lot. Marker is in this post office area: Wise VA 24293, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Gladeville in the Civil War (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Wise (approx. 0.6 miles away); Napoleon Hill (approx. 0.9 miles away); The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (approx. 1.1 miles away); Norton / Coeburn (approx. 3.1 miles away); Armed Forces Memorial (approx. 4.1 miles away); Norton (approx. 4.1 miles away); Coeburn (approx. 6.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wise.
More about this marker. Photographs on this panel carry the following captions: “Logging train”, “Music of Coal book cover”, “UVA’s College at Wise”, “Papa Joe Smiddy”, “Wooden bleachers at the old fairgrounds”,
Also see . . .
1. “The Explosion at Derby”. “A flying trip by airplane through the courtesy of Kightley and Musleh airshows to the scene of the explosion revealed to Times staff writers the wreckage about the mouth of the mine and the efforts of the rescue squads to reach the five other men known to be imprisoned somewhere back in the mine. Seventy-five men working in another section of the mine escaped through an abandoned shaft.” (Submitted on November 22, 2015.)
2. Music of Coal: Mining Songs from the Appalachian Coalfields. Aat Amazon.com. Music of Coal delves deeply into Virginia history, addressing various aspects of mining and culture. This two disc set features Merle Travis, Hazel Dickens, Doc Boggs, The Carter Family, Ralph Stanley & Dwight Yoakam, Darrell Scott, Natalie Merchant and a few dozen others. Packaged in a richly detailed 69 page book w/ liner notes and striking historical photographs. (Submitted on November 22, 2015.)
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Disasters • Natural Resources •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 22, 2015, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 190 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 22, 2015, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.