The Virginia Coal Heritage Trail is located in the Heart of Appalachia's coalfield region. More than 300 miles of scenic byways stretch through seven counties and the city of Norton, providing the traveler with glimpses of unique coal mining towns that were formed more than a century ago.
Experience this true cultural heritage experience. Some coal mines are still in operation today and can be seen at various places along the route. Download the map.
Appalachia - The Town of Appalachia is considered to be an intact "era town" of the late 1800s-early 1900s. It was once the center of a booming coal mining culture and served as the hub of eight coal camps just outside of town. Many of the coal camps remain as well as much of the coal mining equipment. Be sure to see the Bee Rock Tunnel — known as the shortest railroad tunnel in the world — which is listed in Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Appalachia -Louis E. Henegar Miners Memorial Park is dedicated to a local mining historian and the numerous coal miners in the community. See many examples of underground mining equipment used today in mining.
Big Stone Gap - The Harry W. Meador Coal Museum features displays of mining equipment, tools, coal company items and a collection of photograhs.
Big Stone Gap - The John Fox Jr. Museum was the home of the famous author of Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the nation's first million-selling novel based on the beginning of the coal mining industry in the Appalachian region.
Big Stone Gap - The June Toliver House & Folkart Center is a National and Virginia Historic Landmark next to the amphitheatre that stages the musical adaptation of Trail of the Lonesome Pine every summer. June Toliver is the heroine of the play.
Big Stone Gap - The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park highlights the exploration and development of the region as well as the surrounding area during the 1890s coal boom.
Breaks - Breaks Interstate Park is known as "The Grand Canyon of the South." Trains can often be heard and seen from park overlooks as they move through the deep valley, reminiscent of the coal mining heritage of the region.
Clinchco - The Dickenson County Coal Miner's Memorial is a tribute to the men and women who died in the coal mines. Be sure to read some of the biographies on the memorial's Website.
Clinchco - The Dennis Reedy Rail Road & Coal Museum offers "a glimpse into the soul of the region" through the collection of Reedy, a former schoolteacher.
Clintwood - The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center features the life and music of the legendary singer and banjo player, who continues to sing many a ballad about coal miners and their families, such as Daddy Don't Go to the Mines Today. Visit various displays and research center, which is devoted to traditional American and Appalachian music.
Many reclaimed mine sites are located in Buchanan County and can be seen from various routes and old railroad trails. The county is planning a tourist train that will take visitors to abandoned mines. In the meantime, hikers are welcome.
Grundy - See the Grundy Mural on the outdoor wall of Food City. This mural depicts the history of Buchanan County and the town of Grundy.
Grundy - A bronze statue honoring local miners sits in front of the courthouse.
Pocahontas - The Historical Coal Mining Town of Pocahontas was Virginia's first coalfield boom town! To this day, Pocahontas preserves its coal mining heritage. Various buildings, such as the Old Power House, have been converted into a museum and educational center. The old Company Store has been turned into a restaurant.
Pocahontas - The Pocahontas Exhibition Mine & Museum is open from April-October. Guides tell the story of mining the famous Pocahontas Number Three coal during the hand-loading era of the industry.
Tazewell - The Historic Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneer Park features exhibits on the agricultural and mining industries. An ongoing archeological site nearby has uncovered numerous artifacts from the people who once lived in the region.
Richlands -The Richlands Coal Miners' Memorial is a tribute to the men and women who sacrificed all they had to make a living. The memorial sculptured by Maria Kirby-Smith depicts a miner exiting the mine. He's covered in the toll of the day with his lunch bucket & pick in hand as he catches a breath of fresh air.
Cleveland -Cleveland Virginia History and Heritage Museum features many photographs and historical information about the little town.
Dante - The Dante Coal Miner's Memorial honors those miners who worked in the mines. Special recognition is given to those who died in the mines. The mining town of Dante was once the headquarters of the Clinchfield Coal Corp.
Duffield -Natural Tunnel State Park features a tunnel naturally carved through a limestone ridge thousands of years ago. Coal is still transported by trains that travel through the tunnel.
Hiltons - The Carter Family Fold and Carter Family Museum honors the family as "The First Family of Country Music." A.P., his wife, Sara, and her sister, Maybelle recorded more than 300 traditional Appalachian songs between 1927-1942. The Fold is a 1,000-seat music theatre where the traditional music can be enjoyed every Saturday night.
Appalachia - Coal/Railroad Days is an annual festival in August celebrating the history of this coal era town.
Big Stone Gap - See the "Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama" every summer from June-August. The drama depicts the story of the great boom in Southwest Virginia when the discovery of coal and iron ore forced the lusty, proud mountain people into making many drastic changes in the way of life. It is a love story between a beautiful mountain woman and a mining engineer from the big city.
Last Updated: 1/21/2020