Experience America’s favorite drive at the Blue Ridge Parkway. Meandering for 469 miles, the parkway reveals stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands in North Carolina and Virginia – not to mention some of the most magical sunrises and sunsets. Want to see more amazing pics from Blue Ridge? Follow usinterior on snapchat as Blue Ridge shares live updates from the park.
“did ya hear?” someone asks. “what?” you reply politely. “we’re gettin’ a whole foods!” it’s 5 years later. someone asks you. “did ya hear?” “what?” “we’re gettin’ a whole foods!”
you’re sitting in traffic in a parking lot in turkey creek. It must be christmas. You’ve been sitting there for days. You’re growing old. Weak. Tired. They’ve built a chik fil a and a new vegan cupcake place around you the whole time you’ve been sitting in traffic.
You’re driving down southerland. A man in a hoveround scooter waves politely. Then another. then another. then another. they all have the same smile.
It’s 95 degrees in March. You’re talking to your friend’s mom when she says, “They’re expecting snow tomorrow y’all might get out of school.” It starts to snow ten minutes later.
Quentin Tarantino is in town. The air smells like a pile of burning mulch.
You see a picture of your friends at Dollywood. You turn on your tv and Dolly Parton says “Come to Dollywood in my hometown of Sevierville!” Her eyes are unblinking and smile unmoving. In the background you see your friends. You see all your friends. You see your neighbor. You see your family. Everyone you know is at Dollywood. Are they ever coming back?
You look up at the Sunsphere. You see a body, eyes, limbs reflected in the bright yellow surface. They’re not yours. They might be a group of kids from a UT exchange program. No. They’re Bart Simpsons. You notice the sunsphere is wearing a wig. “Welcome to the Wigsphere.” is written on the reflective panels.
You drive to Happy Holler. No one has changed the signs since the 1960′s. You drive to South Knoxville. No one has changed the signs since the 1960′s. They all say “NO BODY DOESNT LIKE SARA LEE.” and “REPENT NOW TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” with your name written on the end.
You close your eyes. You see the scene from The Shining where the blood rushes from the elevators, except the blood isn’t red. It’s bright orange. Go vols.
Charles Kinney (top), fiddle maker and player, and Noah Kinney (bottom), hub cap banjo player and maker. These brothers were folk artists and musicians who spent their lives creating and reveling in Appalachian culture in Kentucky. They died six months apart in 1991.
We are not Northerners — damn Yankees, the men folks’ Confederate influence called them — and this we know without a doubt. I myself was always preened into believing I was a Southern child, born out of notions of gallantry and romance, but the fact is, I ain’t a low country belle and I’ve never picked a shred of cotton or been to a debutante ball.
We are not peaches.
And these mountain women before us were not delicate flowers or distressed coquettes. In these old heirloom hills, the women are as tough as the men, and then some. There was only one person Papaw was leery of, and that was Mamaw. No, you are not a peach, never mind how long you’ve thought you were or the times your daddy said so. No, you’re not. You are not easily bruised fruit. The blood in our veins is laced with old magic and the secrets of the noble savants before us.
Appalachia and the media have a very strained relationship, and with good reason. Representations of Appalachia haven’t changed for the last 50 years, except perhaps to get worse. Even documentaries on the area that are meant to provide a great deal of verisimilitude often fail and leave the area worse than they found it. For better or worse, however, they educate. Here’s a list of some of the more popular and easily accessible titles, from earliest to latest:
The Forgotten Frontier (1931) about the Frontier Nursing Service, a group of nurses on horseback who traveled through the mountains, founded by Mary Breckenridge in 1925.
Holy Ghost People (1967) looks at the Pentecostal Christians of Scrabble Creek, West Virginia and their traditions of snake handling and speaking in tongues. Watch here.
Before the Mountain was Moved (1969) focuses on the inhabitants of Raleigh County, West Virginia as they fight against Mountain Top Removal and fight for environmental protection. Watch here.
The Darlene Chronicles/Visiting with Darlene (1970-94) started as a look at poverty in rural Pennsylvania and quickly turned into a sad and disparaging look at an Appalachian family through the eyes of housewife Darlene and her daily struggles. This one paints an ugly picture and can be rather hard to watch, here.
It Ain’t City Music (1973) films the National Country Music Contest in Warrenton, Virginia and hears from people reminiscing on their rural homes and the hard times they’ve endured. Watch here.
Buffalo Creek Flood (1975) shows the disaster and irresponsibility of the Pittston Company when a coal waste dam collapsed in southern West Virginia, killing 125 and leaving 4000 homeless.
Harlan County, USA (1976) follows the Brookside Strike of the coal miners (and families) working for Duke Power Company in southeastern Kentucky. This documentary explores the issues of workers’ rights and the union in coal country. Watch here.
The Heartland Series (1984) is a series documentary from Tennessee focusing on different aspects of Appalachian life and culture, including the land, the history, the struggles and the trades of the mountain folk.
A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle (1986) traces the history of the Landis family of Granville County, North Carolina, through family reunions, gospel concerts, and the word of mouth from 86-year-old Bertha Landis. Watch here.
Mine War on Blackberry Creek (1986) documents the UMWA strike against Massey Energy, one of the largest coal corporations in America, and their CEO Don Blankenship. Watch here.
Dancing Outlaw (1991) tells the story of the now infamous Jesco White of Boone County, West Virginia, the eponymous Dancing Outlaw. Jesco’s story and his colorful family are the focus of this documentary and its followup “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” (2009). Watch Dancing Outlaw here.
American Hollow (1999) depicts a stark look at the Bowling family of Hazard, Kentucky, an impoverished family that has lived in the same hollow for seven generations. Watch here.
Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait (2000) follows the lives of seven girls in a coming of age story about leaving their family farm and the bonds that hold them together.
Stranger With A Camera (2000) is a fascinating documentary that looks at the murder of filmmaker Hugh O'Connor in Letcher County, Kentucky while he was shooting a piece on Appalachia during Johnson’s War on Poverty. It addresses questions of how Appalachia is represented versus how it is viewed by its own people. Watchhere.
Sludge (2005) chronicles the Martin County Sludge Spill accident that occurred when coal sludge broke through an underground mine and into the Tug Fork River.
Heaven Come Down (2006) is another documentary that looks at Appalachian sects of Pentecostal Christians.
Country Boys (2006) follows the life of two teenage boys from David, Kentucky and their struggles against poverty in a rural area from 1999 to 2002. The boys face individual family and educational issues.
Mountaintop Removal (2007) looks at strip mining in West Virginia and how it has affected local communities.
Burning the Future: Coal in America (2008) also focuses on the environmental effects of Mountain Top Removal, such as disfigured mountain ranges, extinct or endangered species from the deforestation, and pollution.
Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie (2008) is the story of Dallas and Wayne and their journey as Bigfoot Researchers. It’s an American Dream story of a passion in Portsmouth, Ohio, an impoverished Appalachian town, that is equal parts sad, delightful, heartbreaking and heartwarming. Watch here.
Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People (2009) is a 4 part PBS documentary that focuses on the role of Appalachia in the nation since its beginning.
Blowing Up Mountains: Destroying the Environment for Coal (2010), a VICE piece, examines how and why massive corporations choose to extract coal by creating environmental ruin instead of going underground. Watch here.
The Last Mountain (2011) again fights against strip mining, looking at the environmental and health impact. This documentary and the book it derives from (Crimes Against Nature, Kennedy) proposes a wind farm for clean energy in place of deforestation and mining. Watch here.
Oxyana (2013) is a portrait of the once thriving small town of Oceana, West Virginia, which has fallen hard and fast due to the spread of the Appalachian Oxycontin epidemic. Rent to watch here.
Overburden (coming soon) follows the life of a coal miner’s brother and an environmentalist grandmother in their attempts to take down the coal company in the aftermath of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 in 2010. Check out this teaser.
There are plenty more special reports, TV shows, exposé films, and degrading travel-channel sorts out there, and I know there are some actual documentaries I’ve forgotten, so if there is anything you think should be included in this let me know.
This mass of twisted metal, in the middle of the #appalachian #pennsylvania #coalcountry, is #knoebelsgrove ’s new #rollercoaster named #impulse It has one intense point of lift during a loop when the ride seemingly stops at the top. You find yourself upside down looking toward the ground. It is extremely smooth and has some speed to it. Massive fun factor. Well worth the line.