Heritage in Lee County, Virginia


Heritage has many definitions and is a hard term to nail down. Often described as a cultural inheritance, heritage is what is passed down from one generation to the next and survives as the cultural distinction of an area. For Lee County, the preservation of its own heritage is literally in the hands of the people. Music, Crafts and History are what define both the area and the people who call Lee County home. The labors of land, love, and art express the county’s heritage. Wherever the hands of the people in Lee County have touched is where much of the local heritage becomes visible.

Lee County Welcome sign

Lee County, Virginia is the westernmost county in the state. The 2014 population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Lee County, VA has approximately 24,951 residents. Lee County is bordered by Tennessee and Kentucky and is home to part of Cumberland Gap National Park, as well as the beautiful Wilderness Road State Park.

Quilting is one of the main art forms in the area. As part of Appalachia, this area has a rich supply of artisans whose quilts are just as much a part of the present as a spokespersons of the past. Traditions such as quilting, which have been passed down through families for generations, are often preserved in guilds or quilter’s associations, such as those in the Lee County Quilters.

Coal mining has had a significant impact on the county as it was historically the main industry for many years. Towns such as St. Charles and communities like Keokee are great representatives of this history and how much the county has been impacted by mining.20150609_111627

Music is celebrated throughout the county in a variety of ways. There are festivals, such as Music Meetings, or county concerts, and are also preserved in local museums such as the South Western Virginia Museum in Big Stone Gap, VA located just outside of Lee County. Music is also found in homes and on porches throughout the county.

Each of the towns and communities in Lee County have their own distinct heritage and were given their own section to try and better capture the feeling of each small community in Lee County. Please check them out. The main communities include Ewing, Rose Hill, Jonesville, Pennington Gap, St. Charles, and Dryden.