Southwest Virginia’s “Crooked Road” Has Become A Valuable Asset To The Area
Abingdon,VA – Southwest Virginia has been blessed by the musical establishment known as “The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail.” The initial idea was to boost tourism and regional economies by establishing a network of venues and communities that support the region’s heritage of unique, traditional music. Todd Christensen, Executive Director of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and co-founder of The Crooked Road, elaborates.
“The Crooked Road was started just by a get-together of music and folklore and culture people with local government, tourism and regional planning people,” Todd Christensen says. “They all got together and realized southwest Virginia had such a great music tradition that we could support the music and provide economic development to the communities by just marrying all of those things together.”
The Crooked Road took off almost immediately. The trail itself winds from Rocky Mount in Franklin County, turns south at Floyd and continues to wind east past Stuart in Patrick County, and most every town and community along the road itself has been happy to be included.
“We did an economical impact analysis of The Crooked Road,” he says. “Since it started eight years ago, there has been approximately $24 million that has gone back into the communities. At Heartwood, which is our artisan gateway for southwest Virginia for 19 counties, 85 cents of every dollar through craft, local food, music and literature goes back directly to people we can identify by name.”
“The communities all want to be part of it,” Todd adds. “They want to get the tourism; they want to get the signs and the recognition and something to be proud of for their community and their culture.”
The signs that Todd mentions are one of the trademarks of The Crooked Road. They prominently feature a 5-string banjo looming over a mountain and winding trail, perfectly representing the road itself and the music included along the trail. Of course, the signs and logos came in time.
“I like to say we got together and the Holy Ghost of Music came down, because right from our very first meeting, numerous people jumped in and made contributions,” Todd says. “Somebody went and got a logo made and somebody got a brochure made. We got localities to put in money. That really only took about seven or eight months. It’s taken us now about eight years to get all 19 counties involved and get all those counties supporting financially and with their involvement. We are still working at it, actually.”
With all of the great things that have come out of The Crooked Road, it is no surprise that there is a lot of recent local interest in establishing a music heritage trail throughout Pocahontas County and surrounding West Virginia counties to the north and south. Join us next Friday during the 12 o’clock hour for information on the beginning efforts of West Virginia’s own music trail.