All across Southwest Virginia, the stories of men and women who worked in mines, furniture factories or textile mills can be read in the buildings you see today. In the coalfields, mining towns and camps sprang up wherever the coal seam led. Miners came from farms nearby, from the deep South and from Eastern Europe to earn the money that mining brought. Communities were self-contained. People shared their lives in schools, athletic teams, churches and shopping in the company store. Music was a bond and sometimes the only common language.
Brooke Jarvis’ recent post titled: 3 Lessons for Appalachia’s Post-Coal Economy, addresses the very pertinent question of “what happens when Appalachia is coal country no more?”
Brooke mentions the efforts of local, grassroots organizations that are “working to reform old industries and promote more sustainable ones, to build local entrepreneurial capacity and to make sure the region’s resources benefit residents over the long haul.”
In Virginia and all throughout Appalachia, there are ongoing efforts to build more diverse and resilient economies that take advantage of the rich cultural history and breathtaking natural resources the region has to offer.
The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail includes 10 counties, three cities, 10 towns, five regional planning districts, four state agencies, two tourism organizations and a large number of music venues. Although the trail is focused on the uniqueness and vitality of this region’s heritage music, it also includes outdoor recreational activities, museums, crafts and historic and cultural programs. ‘Round the Mountain has focused its efforts to promote sustainable economic development of the region’s communities by assisting local artisans with marketing, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. These great initiatives are part of a larger strategy to reinvigorate the economies of Virginia. The Southwest Virginia website is a great resource for everything related to this region.
Plan your trip and come learn about the people who lived in coal camps and company towns. See photos and quilts, listen to stories and oral histories, visit churches, cemeteries and museums in towns across our region and visit the buildings and communities which remain bear witness to our rich history.