The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (novel)

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The Trail of the Lonesome Pine
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.jpg
First edition cover
Author John Fox, Jr.
Country United States
Language English
Genre Western, Romance
Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 223 pp

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is a 1908 romance novel/western novel written by John Fox, Jr.. The novel became Fox's most successful, and was included among the top ten list of bestselling novels for 1908 and 1909. The novel has been adapted numerous times for both stage and screen.

The novel inspired the same-titled song published in 1913.

Plot summary[edit]

Set in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the twentieth century, a feud has been boiling for over thirty years between two influential mountain families: the Tollivers and the Falins. The character Devil Judd Tolliver, in the novel was based on the real life of "Devil John" Wesley Wright, a United States Marshal for the region in and around Wise County, Virginia, and Letcher County, Kentucky.[1] The outside world and industrialization, however, are beginning to enter the area. Coal mining begins to exert its influence on the area, despite the two families' feuds. Entering the area, enterprising "furriner" (foreigner) John Hale captures the attention of the beautiful June Tolliver, and inadvertently becomes entangled in the region's politics.

Geologist Hale has a vision for the potential wealth of the natural raw materials, especially coal, that he intends to use as a means of creating a legacy for himself and the Gap. But he also has an eye for the young natural beauty of a mountain girl, June Tolliver, who he feels compelled to free from the confines of mountain life and introduce her to higher education.

The coming boom time for the region necessitates Hale to establish a law and order authority that the two feuding clans refuse to recognize. It is this conflict between clans who are used to settling their differences established by 100 years of tradition and the principled Hale that threatens to destroy the budding romance between him and June, who then must choose between clan loyalties and the man she loves.


Film adaptations include 1916 silent by Cecil B. DeMille and a 1936 motion picture helmed by Henry Hathaway. The 1936 version, starring Sylvia Sidney, Henry Fonda, and Fred MacMurray, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Louis Alter and Sidney D. Mitchell's "A Melody for the Sky." It was also awarded the Venice Film Festival Award for Best Color Film. Hathaway's version marked the first time the Technicolor process was used for outdoor filmmaking.

The novel was adapted into a successful stage play by Earl Hobson Smith and Clara Lou Kelly. Since 1964, the play has been performed in an outdoor theater in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, the hometown of the novel's author.[2] It is considered the longest running outdoor drama in the United States[3] and was designated the "official outdoor drama" by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1994.

The 1916 DeMille adaptation features an additional plot angle of Hale being a revenue agent seeking out "moonshiners." It also omitted much of the subplot concerning the Falin family. Henry Hathaway's 1936 version, which was the first feature film to be filmed outdoors in full (three-strip) Technicolor, remains relatively faithful to the original novel. At least three other major film adaptations exist with varying degrees of faithfulness to Fox's novel.

Film adaptations[edit]

She Had Never Been Up There Before..., by Frederick Coffay Yohn, c. 1906, published in the The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by John Fox, Jr., Scribner's, 1908 - New Britain Museum of American Art

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Page 1". 
  2. ^ Trail of the Lonesome Pine Amphitheatre/June Tolliver Playhouse Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  3. ^ Colbert, Judy. Off the Beaten Path Virginia: A Guide to Unique Places. Globe Pequot, 2012: 203. ISBN 978-0-7627-7330-5

External links[edit]