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Contents:
Program 318

1. author John Fox Jr.
2. fly-fishing
3. Breaks Interstate Park
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Bourbon County

For more information:
John Fox Jr. Genealogical Library, Duncan Tavern, 323 High St., Paris, KY 40361, (859) 987-1788
• The John Fox Jr. Museum, E. Shawnee Ave., Big Stone Gap, VA 24219, (540) 523-2747, is open Tuesday through Sunday from the last week of June through Labor Day. Admission is charged.
• The outdoor drama The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is performed at the June Tolliver Playhouse, P.O. Box 1976, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219, (276) 523-1235.

Producer, videographer: Ernie Lee Martin


Remembering the Little Shepherd’s Creator

shepherd cartoon Author John Fox Jr.

In 1903, John Fox Jr., a native of Bourbon County, published The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, a coming-of-age story of a mountain boy who discovers he has aristocratic Bluegrass roots. The novel, cited in some sources as the first ever to sell a million copies in the U.S., reflected a sort of mirror image of Fox’s own life. Born in the Bluegrass during the Civil War, he had moved with his family to the Appalachians in his 20s and developed a fascination with mountain people and folklore.

Fox became a popular and prolific chronicler of his adopted culture. He gave readings and sang mountain songs at public gatherings (including a few at Teddy Roosevelt’s White House). And he filled magazine articles and more than 500 short stories with glowing descriptions of the beauty and bounty of 19th-century Kentucky, treating his beloved home state almost as another character. In between, he was also a war correspondent, reporting on the Spanish-American War in Cuba for Harper’s Weekly and the Russo-Japanese War for Scribner’s.

Fox’s greatest critical success was the 1908 novel The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, another “meeting of cultures” in which a Bluegrass-born engineer falls in love with a mountain woman. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was adapted for the stage by Eugene Walter in 1912 and has had three film versions. The drama is still performed regularly at an outdoor playhouse in Big Stone Gap, VA, where Fox made his final home.

Fox died of pneumonia in 1919, at the age of 56.

Watch This Story (13:43)




McCreary County

For more information:
• Harold Casey, (502) 875-4995

Producer, videographer: Ernie Lee Martin


Rivers Run Through It

Fly-fishing

Next, Kentucky Life tries out one of John Fox Jr.’s favorite sports: fly-fishing. Its devotees say there has never been another sport more beautifully entwined with nature. Come with us to McCreary County as fisherman Harold Casey shows us some gorgeous scenery as well as some of the grace and allure of fly-fishing.

Watch This Story (7:43)




Pike County

For more information:
Breaks Interstate Park, P.O. Box 100, Breaks, VA 24607, (800) 982-5122

Producer, videographer: Gale Worth


Gorge-ous

Breaks Interstate Park

More splendid scenery is on tap in the final segment, a visit to Breaks Interstate Park on the Kentucky-Virginia border. Here the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River has carved a five-mile-long, 1,000-foot-deep gorge known officially as “the Breaks”—and unofficially as “the Grand Canyon of the South.” The 4,600-acre park is a wild wonderland, featuring “the Towers,” a massive three-sided pyramid of rock, and the nearly impassable Pine Mountain. Our visit was in winter, when the rugged topography is the star.

Created in 1954 by the legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park is administered jointly by the two states. Facilities include a lodge that offers spectacular views (check out the dining room for breakfast and watch the morning fog lift), a nature center, cottages, and camping sites. The park is located about seven miles east of Elkhorn City on Kentucky Highway 80.

Watch This Story (4:02)


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