Three More Days of Centennial Pageant
Railroad Visitors, Governor’s Day and Dance, Mine Dust Explosion Big Features
From the Coalfield Progress, July 26, 1956

Improved weather, plus word-of-mouth advertising, of a tremendously attractive and inspiring pageant, “Heart of the Highlands,” has brought out an increasing crowd each night, with promise that the Municipal Stadium, will be filled to capacity, for the last three performances, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

    As a double incentive, Thursday night will be railroad night, with 100 or more representatives of the six railroads serving the county, in the stadium; Friday night a big mine dust explosion there in the stadium, at 7:30,  a part of the regular prologue and Saturday night Governor’s night.
    Probably the heaviest schedule of activities in Wise County’s history has been taking place since last Friday, with a lot more promised to come during the remaining three days of “Centennial Week.”
    Leading off Friday night, at the Coeburn high school football field, Miss Ruth Mullins, of Wise, was crowned “Miss Centennial,” and is reigning over the “Heart of the Highlands” pageant, being presented each night this week.
    All day Saturday, St. Paul held a Mountain Music Festival, complete with a parade and music by the Stanley Brothers. A daredevil show kept the crown in suspense during the afternoon.
    On Sunday afternoon 1200 to 1500 persons congregated in the Norton Municipal Stadium, for a county-wide Union Vespers Service. Although most other towns in the county reported rain, Norton was spared. Mother Nature even made a second dispensation, and provided a Technicolor sunset background for the 150-voice choir. Dr. James N. Hillman gave a “never-to-be-forgotten” sermon, its words and meaning echoing in the ears of the congregation.
    And on Monday, sticking to the theory that “The Show Must Go On,” despite several rain showers throughout the day, and skies threatening at show time, the gigantic Centennial pageant, “Heart of the Highlands” was premiered as scheduled. Local critics opined that the production was not only good, but “a hit.”
    The skies not only threatened Tuesday night’s pageant performance, but turned loose a slight sprinkle several times. The show, however, played as scheduled to more than twice the crowd attending the premier.
    During the prologue, an old-time costume parade was held, directed by Miss Edith Cherry. The judges were Mrs. G. Carey White, Hollins College; Mrs. Wilfred A. Phillips, Washington, DC

    Although Wise County’s Centennial week is half over, many more activities are on slate to the remaining three days.
    Officials of six railroads, which serve the county, will enjoy a barbecue tonight (Thursday) at the Lonesome Pine Country Club at 6 o’clock, guests of the Interstate, before journeying back to Norton where they will be introduced, during the prologue to the pageant, “Heart of the Highlands,” at the Norton Municipal Stadium, beginning at 7:30 o’clock.
    A Centennial flower show, sponsored by the Norton Garden Club, will be held in the Norton First Church of God, from two to 7:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. The public is cordially invited.
    Prologue to the pageant Friday night will feature Norton-Wise Miner’s Day. A “dust explosion,” using coal dust out of local coal mines, in Wise County, will also be presented, by the Bureau of Mines.
    Saturday promises to be the biggest day, in the biggest week in Wise County’s 100 years.
    A huge Centennial parade will start the festivities at 2 o’clock, in Wise. The parade will feature the J. J. Kelly high school band, attired in Centennial costumes; the Wise County Centennial Queen, Ruth Mullins, and her court.


The United States Air Force will sponsor a float, coming to Wise from Roanoke. Clinchfield Coal Corporation will also provide a formidable float. Other attractions include Brothers of the Brush, Sisters of the Swish, antique cars, a covered wagon and a whiskey still on a flatbed truck.

    The parade will wind up in front of the court house, will adjourn to hear an address by Virginia Governor Thomas B. Stanley.


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