Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Overlook and the Gap

It's about a ten-mile drive between Big Stone Gap and Norton along highway 23 in southwestern Virginia.

On this drive, only those in the northbound traffic lanes (those nearest in the photo) have the opportunity to enjoy the view from the Powell Overlook.

Early one morning, we walked down the paved path to take in the view.

From the beginning of the path, we took this photo of the Powell Valley. This was one of the few mornings that neither fog nor low clouds obscured the view.

From the end of the path, we could take in the views of the homes, farms, and a church in the valley.

By the 1870s, developers had been drawn by the mineral and timber resources. The expectation was that this city (then called "Mineral City") would become the "Pittsburgh of the South."

It was incorporated as Big Stone Gap in 1882 (visitbigstonegap.org).

The C. Bascom Slemp Federal Building was completed in 1912 and was (and still is) used as a post office and federal courthouse. In 1975, the building was designated as a Virginia Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The streets in this town of about 5,500 are busy, the stores are open, and there is foot traffic on the sidewalks.

Big Stone Gap is known as the "Gateway to the Coalfields." Coal and iron ore brought the early investors into the area and is still a main industry today. The statue in this small Miner's Park recognizes these hardy individuals.

A stop at the Country Deli for Eatz and Treatz would be a good way to end a walk around town.

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