Virginia State Outdoors Drama

"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine"

Virginia State Outdoors Drama: The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Adapted for stage by Clara Lou Kelly
Performed in Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Adopted in 1994

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the longest continually running outdoor drama in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has been designated the Official Outdoor Drama of Virginia.

Wise County is also home of the community that was the inspiration of Adriana Trigiani's trilogy of novels, including the best-seller Big Stone Gap; and the novel, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, written by John Fox, Jr.

Virginia State Outdoors Drama :
"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine"

The Novel

Fox, John, Jr. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
KY: Kentucky UP, 1984.
First published by Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908

"John Fox, Jr. published this great romantic novel of the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky and Virginia in 1908, and the book quickly became one of America's favorites. It has all the elements of good romance- a superior but natural heroine, a hero who is an agent of progress and enlightenment, a mass of supposedly benighted mountaineers to be drawn from their rough habits of feuding into the flow of mainstream American culture, a generous dose of social and class struggle, and a setting among the misty coves and cliffs of the blue Cumberlands" (Back Cover).

". . . [Fox's] dialogue is often stilted and stiff in the eyes of today's reader, and many of his characters seem almost caricatures. His hero Jack Hale, the bluegrass engineer who comes to the mountains to make his fortune in coal but remains to fall in love with the region and with a simple mountain girl, is impossibly brave and pure. June Tolliver, the beautiful mountain waif, is only slightly more believable. But when Fox turns from romance and deals with the hard, narrow, and sometimes brutal and confused mountain dwellers who are struggling to cope with progress that was brushing aside them and their ways, then his characters take on flesh and blood" (Foreword viii).

Jack Hale's Transformation
in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

By Whitney La Ruffa

John Fox brings to life many colorful characters who lived in the Appalachian region in his novel The Trail of the Lonesome Pine . The book, which was written in 1908, tells of the mountain folk of Appalachia whose lives were shaped by turn of the century industrialization. The character Jack Hale is a "furriner" from the north who moves to the mountains seeking fortune from the coal below the ground. Jack is a very three dimensional character who changes dramatically throughout the book.

In the beginning of the story Jack Hale is a neatly dressed, clean shaven, educated Yankee. His perfect pronunciation and articulation are accentuated by the surrounding native accent and dialect of the south. Jack's words and mannerisms depict him as a man interested in such topical matters as money and appearances--yet there is more to him than that.

Jack falls in love with the young June Tolliver, a simple mountain girl. His love for June is shown to us when he financially backs her education outside the mountains. Their relationship demonstrates Jack's nurturing side. Jack is always willing to put June before himself in any situation. His love for this girl is an expression of his humanity and, like all individuals, there is a side of him that will always care for someone more than himself.

Jack's role as a volunteer policeman represents all that is just in the world. He is one individual who could make the distinction between the law and personal feelings. We see this distinction when he gets involved with Bad Rufe Tolliver. He lets the law resolve the situation rather than his own anger. This discrimination is also proved when he saved young Dave Tolliver from the Faulkners.

Jack starts the novel as a greedy furriner who represents the industrial, capitalist evil which had come to the mountains. He then moves on to be one of the most respected people in the gap. Jack is proud of his new role as a law man, an educator, and a provider. The reader feels as if Jack achieves what he had set out to do. We do not, however, see the great changes that have taken forth in Jack until June comes back from New York.

Upon June's return Jack appears to us in a very different light. He has discarded the clean look and is now scruffy and haggard. There is mud on his clothes and dirt stains ground into his hands. June even has to correct his speech. This change in Jack has come not only from his pressing financial situation, but also from his love of the land which grows by his living in the mountains. Jack no longer finds himself as an outsider looking at the land for his financial gain, but as an insider who has learned to respect the land and appreciate nature.

By the end of the book Jack has learned that life is more then just money. His love for June and nature help him become a better person. Fox shows us a dynamic character who is full of knowledge, love and respect for all aspects of life.

Virginia House Bill No. 599


An Act to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Chapter 5 of Title 7.1 a section numbered 7.1-40.8, relating to the official outdoor dramas of the Commonwealth.

[H 599] Approved April 8, 1994

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Chapter 5 of Title 7.1 a section numbered 7.1-40.8 as follows:

§ 7.1-40.8. Official outdoor dramas.

"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama," adapted for the stage by Clara Lou Kelly and performed in the Town of Big Stone Gap, is hereby designated the official outdoor drama of the Commonwealth.

"The Long Way Home," based on the life of Mary Draper Ingles and adapted for the stage by Earl Hobson Smith and performed in the City of Radford, is hereby designated the official historical outdoor drama of the Commonwealth.

Virginia Law

The law designating "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama," adapted for the stage by Clara Lou Kelly and performed in the Town of Big Stone Gap as the official Virginia state outdoor drama is found in the Code of Virginia, Title 1, Chapter 5, Section 1-510. Virginia symbols were re-organized under one section of the Code of Virginia in 2005.

Chapter 5 - Emblems
§ 1-510. Official emblems and designations.

The following are hereby designated official emblems and designations of the Commonwealth:

Artisan Center - "Virginia Artisans Center," located in the City of Waynesboro.

Bat - Virginia Big-eared bat (Corynorhinos townsendii virginianus).

Beverage - Milk.

Blue Ridge Folklore State Center - Blue Ridge Institute located in the village of Ferrum.

Boat - "Chesapeake Bay Deadrise."

Covered Bridge Capital of the Commonwealth - Patrick County.

Covered Bridge Festival - Virginia Covered Bridge Festival held in Patrick County.

Dog - American Foxhound.

Emergency medical services museum - "To The Rescue," located in the City of Roanoke.

Fish - Brook Trout.

Fleet - Replicas of the three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, which comprised the Commonwealth's founding fleet that brought the first permanent English settlers to Jamestown in 1607, and which are exhibited at the Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg.

Flower - American Dogwood ( Cornus florida).

Folk dance - Square dancing, the American folk dance that traces its ancestry to the English Country Dance and the French Ballroom Dance, and is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers, and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, the Virginia Reel, and heritage dances.

Fossil - Chesapecten jeffersonius.

Gold mining interpretive center - Monroe Park, located in the County of Fauquier.

Insect - Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus Linne).

Motor sports museum - "Wood Brothers Racing Museum and Virginia Motor Sports Hall of Fame," located in Patrick County.

Outdoor drama - "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama," adapted for the stage by Clara Lou Kelly and performed in the Town of Big Stone Gap.

Outdoor drama, historical - "The Long Way Home" based on the life of Mary Draper Ingles, adapted for the stage by Earl Hobson Smith, and performed in the City of Radford.

Shell - Oyster shell (Crassostrea virginica).

Song emeritus - "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," by James A. Bland, as set out in the House Joint Resolution 10, adopted by the General Assembly of Virginia at the Session of 1940.

Sports hall of fame - "Virginia Sports Hall of Fame," located in the City of Portsmouth.

War memorial museum - "Virginia War Museum," (formerly known as the War Memorial Museum of Virginia), located in the City of Newport News.

(Code 1950, § 7-35, 7-36, 7-37; 1966, cc. 102, 547, § 7.1-37, 7.1-38, 7.1-39; 1974, c. 24, § 7.1-40; 1982, c. 191, § 7.1-40.1; 1986, c. 138, § 7.1-40.2; 1988, c. 317, § 7.1-40.3; 1991, cc. 71, 575, § 7.1-40.4, 7.1-40.5; 1993, cc. 251, 509, § 7.1-40.6; 1994, cc. 33, 134, 220, 464, § 7.1-40.2:1, 7.1-40.8; 1995, cc. 12, 180, § 7.1-40.2:2; 1996, c. 52, § 7.1-40.9; 1997, cc. 66, 576, § 7.1-40.10; 1999, cc. 69, 336, § 7.1-40.11; 2001, cc. 97, 134, § 7.1-40.12; 2001, c. 228, § 7.1-40.13; 2005, cc. 557, 839; 2006, c. 128; 2007, cc. 391, 685; 2008, c. 262.)


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