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
AuthorJohn Fox, Jr.
CountryUnited States
GenreWestern, Romance
PublisherCharles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback)
Pages223 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]

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

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 of 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, whom he feels compelled to free from the confines of mountain life and introduce to higher education.

The coming boom time for the region requires Hale to establish authoritative law and order that the two feuding clans refuse to recognize. It is this conflict between clans, who are used to settling their differences established by a century 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.


Reprising her 1912 Broadway role, Charlotte Walker starred with Thomas Meighan in the 1916 film The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was first adapted for the stage by Eugene Walter. The 1912 Broadway production starred Berton Churchill and Walter's wife, Charlotte Walker.[2] An adaptation was filmed in 1914.[3] In the 1916 film adaptation directed by Cecil B. DeMille, Charlotte Walker reprised her Broadway role, starring with Thomas Meighan.[4] A 1923 film adaptation starring Mary Miles Minter and Antonio Moreno is considered a lost film.[5]

A 1936 motion picture was directed by Henry Hathaway. Starring Sylvia Sidney, Henry Fonda, and Fred MacMurray, the film 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 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.

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.[6] It is considered the longest running outdoor drama in the United States[7] and was designated the "official outdoor drama" by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1994.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Page 1".
  2. ^ "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  3. ^ "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1914)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  4. ^ "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1916)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  5. ^ "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1923)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  6. ^ Trail of the Lonesome Pine Amphitheatre/June Tolliver Playhouse Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  7. ^ 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]