New book on Route 58 released

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The author of several books featuring Suffolk will sign copies Thursday at the Suffolk Visitor Center.

Joe Tennis, a Bristol Herald-Courier reporter who grew up in Virginia Beach, became interested in U.S. Route 58 when he lived in Kingsport, Tenn., near the far end of Route 58.

He once saw some construction workers doing some work on the road near his home. “They said, ‘This road goes all the way to Virginia Beach,’” Tennis recalled.

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His new book, “Along Virginia’s Route 58: True Tales from Beach to Bluegrass,” features vignettes on 58 places of interest along the road, including several locations in Suffolk. The Great Dismal Swamp, Riddick’s Folly and Suffolk’s status as “Peanut Capital of the World” — complete with mentions of the Mr. Peanut statue at Character Corner and the Planters Peanuts factory — all are highlighted.

Tennis said the book is “truly an updated, expanded and reformed version” of his earlier book “From Beach to Bluegrass.”

The publisher of the first version couldn’t afford to reprint it, and Tennis received the rights again and moved it to a different publisher, along with some updates.

The biggest change is the title of the book, which Tennis said makes it clear it’s not a book about music, which lots of people thought of the first book when they saw the title.

Other changes include the format, which makes it easier to stick in a glovebox or a motorcycle saddlebag and go for a drive.

“I think it now sets you up that you’re going on this motoring journey,” Tennis said. The book is organized geographically from Virginia Beach to Cumberland Gap.

Tennis also added some new details to update the book.

“I don’t know how many people asked me about speeding tickets in Emporia, so I had to make a mention of that,” Tennis said.

“I just want to have fun with this book,” he added. “This is a fun collection of stories, and I’ve always liked talking about them.”

Tennis considers it a companion book to his “Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth,” which also includes mention of Suffolk. It focuses on abandoned railroad rights-of-way across the state that now double as nature paths, walking trails and more.

Tennis will sign copies of both books Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 N. Main St.

He also will sign books Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Chesapeake Barnes & Noble, 1212 Greenbrier Parkway.

Both locations will have books available for sale after Nov. 12. Customers can also order the book at