Big Stone Gap, Virginia

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Big Stone Gap is a town in Wise County, Virginia, United States. The population was 4,856 at the 2000 census.

Contents

History

The community was formerly known as "Meneral City" and "Three Forks." The "Big Stone Gap" refers to the valley which has been created on the Appalachia Straight, located between Big Stone Gap and Appalachia.

Museums

Big Stone Gap is home to several museums. The June Tolliver House, located on Jerome Street, is home to the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the official outdoor drama of Virginia. The Southwest Virginia Museum is located in the downtown area. Big Stone Gap also hosts the Coal Museum.

Federal court

The federal building named for C. Bascom Slemp was built in 1912 and it continues to house a division of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Big Stone Gap is home to Wallens Ridge State Prison, a state prison that has been a part of the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Corrections since 1999. Originally opened as a supermax prison, it has recently been downgraded to a "high level" security facility. Construction and maintenance of the facility generated millions of dollars for the local economy, suppressed from a sagging history of coal mining.[3] While construction of Wallens Ridge did provide jobs, it currently provides only a small portion of the county's population with income.

Many groups have expressed outrage at the practice of shipping prisoners across the country into a rural Appalachian community, most notably the Thousand Kites project.[4]

Notable residents

Big Stone Gap is the birthplace of professional American football players and brothers Thomas Jones and Julius Jones. Both attended classes and played football at Powell Valley High School, a public school in the town.

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