Tennis to speak on books featuring Patrick County at the Homestead

Author Joe Tennis shares tales of railroads, rivers and the longest road in Virginia with two of his latest books, “Along Virginia’s Route 58: True Tales from Beach to Bluegrass” and “Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth.”
Both books feature Patrick County and Martinsville.
On Wednesday, October 5, the author from Bristol will speaking as part of the “History Around Us” series at the Reynolds Homestead, from noon to 1 p.m. He will also be signing books for the general public following the event.
“Along Virginia’s Route 58: True Tales from Beach to Bluegrass” (The History Press, $19.99) is an expanded and updated edition of the author’s 2007 book “Beach to Bluegrass,” which served as an inspiration for state leaders to create the now-developing Beaches to Bluegrass Trail. That statewide trail largely follows abandoned rail lines and makes use of the trails that Tennis profiles in his “Virginia Rail Trails” book, including the Dick & Willie Passage of Martinsville.
Running through Patrick County, U.S. 58 starts at Virginia Beach and stretches 500 miles to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, making it the longest road in Virginia.
Along the way, the author shares stories that range from the “Wreck of the Old 97” at Danville to the 1912 courthouse shooting in Hillsville, moonshine legends at Buffalo Springs and ghost tales at South Boston’s Berry Hill and Abingdon’s Barter Theatre.
This new book also includes an expanded chapter on the Reynolds Homestead, including speculation on the mysterious death of a young girl at Christmastime more than a century ago.
The author’s recent book on U.S. 58 also features more than 90 new photographs, including vintage images of Berry Hill’s horseshoe-shaped staircase, the original wooden boardwalk at Virginia Beach, Mabry Mill, Natural Tunnel and a construction scene of the highway in 1966 at Brunswick County.
Other images include the Dan River Queen at Meadows of Dan; Lovers’ Leap; and a historic scene of the road at Martinsville.
“This book is a guide to Route 58,” said Tennis, 47. “But it’s also a trail of tales—with exactly 58 chapters.”
The route’s weird, quirky and intriguing legends range from the “Machine Gun Kelly” of the Horseshoe Restaurant at South Hill in 1938 to an 18-year-old mayor in Clinchport appearing on David Letterman’s talk show in 1990.
The author’s “Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth” (The History Press, $19.99) includes a chapter on the Mayo River Trail of Patrick County.
The 272-page “Virginia Rail Trails” features 45 rails turned to trails—from the High Bridge Trail State Park at Farmville to the New River Trail State Park, Chessie Nature Trail, Washington and Old Dominion Trail, and the Victoria Railroad Park.
The book also includes 26 maps plus 115 photos of tunnels, trestles, trains and trails. Stories range from the 1864 battle at Staunton River during the Civil War to train wrecks and comical calamities.
A columnist for the Bristol Herald Courier, Tennis has released several books, including “Haunts of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands” (The History Press, $14.99), which features ghosts at the Henry County Courthouse in Martinsville and the Reynolds Homestead in Patrick County, as well the new “Haunted Highlands: Ghosts & Legends of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia” (Backyard Books, $6.99), which includes tales of Radford and Mount Airy, N.C.
This event is free and open to the public, who are invited to bring a bag lunch and enjoy the presentation. Come early and view the JEB Stuart Art Show and vote for People’s Choice as well.hmstd-joe-tennis 653.7 Va Rail Trails cvr.indd


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