Article from Local Quarterly

Exterior Storefront at Night

The Crooked Road
By Taylor Kirland

Californians have their Highway 1, arguably one of the nation’s most thrilling roads. Early migrants heading west got their kicks on Route 66, the nation’s first all-weather highway linking Chicago to Los Angeles. And the Lincoln Highway, which stretches from Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park, is the “Main Street Across America” that marked the dawn of a new interstate age in the U.S.

Tucked in the hills of southwest Virginia is a vastly shorter but equally significant highway known as The Crooked Road, a 300-some-mile-long series of switchbacks and hairpin turns passing through a land of breathtaking panoramas, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it towns, and heaps of legendary music venues and festivals.

The Crooked Road isn’t one single highway, but a series of interconnected two lane byways linking the Virginia piedmont to the Cumberland Mountains. The Road hits a few larger towns along the way—Bristol, Abingdon, Radford—but mostly skims past small and unincorporated communities like Frog Level, Lick Skillet, Boom Furnace, and Busthead, whose name, according to legend, refers to local moonshiners’ homemade hooch, which won pre-Prohibition notoriety for being strong enough to “bust your head.”

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