The Lonesome Pine

Location: On State Line Ridge, an arm of Pine Mountain which juts off to the south and joins Big Black Mountain, forming the divide, not only for the states of Virginia and Kentucky, but the waters of Big Sandy and Cumberland rivers as well. About five feet west of the Virginia state line and same distance from the
Lonesome Pine Trail. About three miles northwest of Flat Gap Post Office.

Date: Tree is, nobody knows how old, but the story was woven around it about 1890.

Description: The tree is a spruce pine (commonly called Hemlock) and was about eighty feet tall; about ten feet around at the base. It was in the path of a forest fire some ten years ago and was so burnt that it died soon thereafter. About three years ago another fire broke out in the mountain timber and it, dry and dead, fell, a victim of the flames.

History: About 1889, with the first influx of outsiders, John Fox, Jr., with his brothers, arrived at Big Stone Gap. At that time the eyes of the entire country, particularly the capital and wealth of the industrial north, was on Big Stone Gap and the surrounding country. Coal had been discovered in great seams and three railroads were racing to tap the wealth that lay hidden along the Powells and Guests River and their tributaries.
     Fox, a geologist, had published some short stories, and probably a novel or two, and during his wanderings about the mountains, the plot for his most popular story "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" was born. Already the world was talking of the new mining country down in the Cumberlands, so it is not any
wonder that Fox's new novel met with such success.
     Natives of this region accepted the story, if not the "Gospel Truth", then the next thing to it. No doubt Fox did get ideas for his successful novel from real life characters he met on the trails an din the hollows of the Cumberlands. It was about this time that the people of Wise County went mad it seems for the blood of their fellows. Maybe their minds were temporarily thrown out of gear by the activity going on about them. But, be that as it may the court dockets were jammed with murder indictments and such gunmen as "Doc" Taylor,
Talt Hall, Clabe Jones and Devil John Wright were stalking across the pages of Cumberland Mountain history with guns in their belts and the lust for blood in their eyes. And this blood lust seemed contagious. It spread even to the courts, where, given the least excuse, juries would condemn a man to "hand by the neck until dead."


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