Big Stone Gap
is a town in Wise County
, United States
. The population was 4,856 at the 2000 census
The community was formerly known as "Three Forks." The Powell River runs through the town. The "Big Stone Gap" refers to the valley which has been created on the Appalachia Straight, located between Big Stone Gap and Appalachia
Big Stone Gap is home to numerous 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.
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.
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.
Author Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap and wrote a series of novels about the town.
Film actor, writer, and logger CC Swiney was born and raised in Big Stone Gap.
Novelist and short-story writer John Fox, Jr. wrote about his experiences living among the coal miners in Big Stone Gap. He died there in 1919. Since 1964, a play version of Fox's novel The Trail of the Lonesome Pine has been performed in an outdoor theater in the town.
Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett was born in Big Stone Gap.
Former Virginia governor Abner Linwood Holton Jr. was born in Big Stone Gap.
Around the end of the 19th century, some of Virginia's leading lawyers lived and worked in Big Stone Gap, including former Attorney General Rufus A. Ayers, Virginia Bar Association president Joshua Fry Bullitt, Jr., and Virginia Supreme Court justice Joseph L. Kelly.
Big Stone Gap is located at (36.867165, -82.774471).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.9 square miles (12.6 km²), all of it land.
Big Stone Gap is at the junction of US Route 23 and US Route 58 Alternate.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 4,856 people, 1,995 households, and 1,332 families residing in the town. The population density
was 995.9 people per square mile (384.2/km²). There were 2,197 housing units at an average density of 450.6/sq mi (173.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.68% White
, 4.41% African American
, 0.14% Native American
, 0.45% Asian
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 0.37% from other races
, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 0.60% of the population.
There were 1,995 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.7% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the town the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $21,584, and the median income for a family was $34,306. Males had a median income of $26,707 versus $21,915 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,284. About 22.4% of families and 25.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.5% of those under age 18 and 15.1% of those age 65 or over.
Big Stone Gap is home to three public schools: Powell Valley Primary, Powell Valley Middle, and Powell Valley High.
Big Stone Gap is also home to Mountain Empire Community College.
A EF-1 tornado touched down March 4, 2008, on Highway 58, running through downtown. The tornado caused a 300 yard wide, one mile long path of damage. It destroyed six homes, caused major damage to 15 homes, and minor damage to 25 others.