News / USA

Mountain Music Fuels Virginia Economy

Crooked Road through historic landmarks attracts tourists, money and jobs

The Crooked Road generally begins in Rocky Mount, where a restored train station is the town's Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
The Crooked Road generally begins in Rocky Mount, where a restored train station is the town's Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

Multimedia

Audio
Rhonda Miller

The tiny mountain town of Floyd, Virginia has one traffic light.

Only 500 people live here year-round. But there's a festival atmosphere on Friday evenings, especially in summer.

The Floyd Country Store is crowded with a few hundred people from out of town - well-dressed families with children, gray-haired senior citizens, motorcycle groups. They're all here to listen and dance to live music.

The Crooked Road

The store is a major stop on The Crooked Road, a twisting 480-kilometer long route across the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, connecting venues where traditional mountain music is played.

Woody Crenshaw bought the store five years ago, when the 20-year-old Friday Night Jamboree still attracted a mostly local crowd.

Woody and Jackie Crenshaw's venue, The Floyd Country Store, is a major stop on The Crooked Road, Virginia’s heritage music trail.
Woody and Jackie Crenshaw's venue, The Floyd Country Store, is a major stop on The Crooked Road, Virginia’s heritage music trail.

That was shortly after the state legislature designated U.S. Highway 8 - which runs through town - as part of Virginia's new Heritage Music Trail.

Economic development leaders believed people from around the world would come to southwestern Virginia, to hear the traditional music of Appalachia. They hoped the visitors would spend time driving along the 'crooked road' that snakes through the mountains, stopping at the places where authentic mountain music was born.

Crenshaw says the vision has become reality. He estimates the Country Store brings between 20,000 and 25,000 visitors to Floyd each year.

"We have a lot of overseas visitors, I know that because every Friday night we have a little celebration at the Country Store where we offer a hat to the person who is from the furthest away," he says. "Generally a person from Western Europe will not win the hat, but it's often that people from Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia will be here."

Economic engine

And those visitors spend money.

"We've created somewhere around 20 to 25 new businesses in Floyd and somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 new jobs in those past few years," says Crenshaw.

The Crooked Road, is a twisting 480-kilometer long route across the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, that connects venues where traditional mountain music is played.
The Crooked Road, is a twisting 480-kilometer long route across the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, that connects venues where traditional mountain music is played.

Music has always been an important part of Appalachian culture but it was never seen as an economic asset.  

Instead, communities in this region depended on industries like coal mining, furniture making, textile manufacturing or growing tobacco to support the economy. But machines took over much of the manual labor and manufacturing went overseas.

The Crooked Road is part of an effort to re-invent the economy by highlighting the region's culture and heritage, parks, scenery and music.

Reinvention

"With this we're selling the music, which hasn't been done that much," says Roddy Moore, director of the Blue Ridge Institute, a museum and folk life center just a ways up The Crooked Road from Floyd. "In this county, Franklin County we have music at some place within the county, every night or day of the week."

That music draws people to restaurants, and stores. And it brings in nearly $13 million a year to southwest Virginia.

Jonathan Romeo, acting director of The Crooked Road, says Virginia's Heritage Music Trail has created 500 jobs.

"Well, it's definitely working here. The Crooked Road is part of a larger plan. In fact, all of Southwest Virginia is being promoted as a tourist destination."

This sign along Route 40 in Franklin County, one of many along The Crooked Road, directs people to a nearby bluegrass jam.
This sign along Route 40 in Franklin County, one of many along The Crooked Road, directs people to a nearby bluegrass jam.

People in other parts of the world will soon see and hear more about The Crooked Road, courtesy of a new website that goes online in a few months. It will several feature videos, including one of legendary Virginia musician Doctor Ralph Stanley, whose museum is a major venue on the trail.

While other places may have cultural or historic trails, people in southwest Virginia say The Crooked Road is an economic engine with a rhythm all its own.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs