Wise Up: Southwest Virginia County Banks on Music and Nature in a Post-Coal Future

Wise County is building an economy on things that can’t be outsourced: natural beauty and traditional mountain music.

Brian Drymon from Michigan takes in the view at the Powell Valley Overlook on Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Big Stone Gap. PHOTO BY SCOTT P. YATES FOR THE ROANOKE RAMBLER

WISE COUNTY, Va. — On a warm day, Maddie Gordon props open the door of her downtown shop, and listens to the sounds of the great outdoors — the rumble of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes.

That’s the sound of tourism, and money, in this small town along the Clinch River in Southwest Virginia coal country.