Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Future of the Appalachian Trail

The Roanoke Times Sunday Edition feature story focuses on the challenges impacting the Appalachian Trail as it nears its 70th anniversary:

Trail of change along the East Coast shapes AT

An uncertain path

Feeling the squeeze

Friday, October 27, 2006

Private Robert Brooks, U.S. Army

I've been doing a lot of research lately on the 1941-42 Bataan-Corregidor Campaign. The KY National Guard sent a tank company from Harrodsburg (where I live) to the the Philippines just before Pearl Harbor, and the unit (D Company, 192d Tank Battalion) served with distinction from 7 Dec 1941 to the surrender on Bataan 9 April 1942, earning 2 Presidential Unit Citations. I'll probably write more on the 192d here in the future, but one stat will suffice for now about the unit: 66 Harrodsburg men went into captivity, and only 37 made it home in 1945.

On the first day of the war (8 Dec 1941, as Luzon is on the other side of the International Date Line), Company D was guarding Clark Field when swarms of Japanese planes attacked and knocked out most of the U.S. Far Eastern Air Force. One of Company D's members, Pvt. Robert Brooks from Sadieville KY (over in the mountains) was killed in the raid. He was the first Armored Force soldier to die in World War II.

The Army wanted to honor Brooks, so they sent someone to get his family to attend a ceremony at Fort Knox, the "Home of Armor." Imagine everyone's surprise when they discovered that Brooks' family was black - this in an Army that still had segregated units until 1948-52. Turns out Brooks was a very fair-skinned black man who passed himself off as white to get into Company D. His comrades had some suspicion about his ancestry, but didn't seem to care.

Today Brooks is buried in Manila. For more info on Pvt. Brooks, see

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Weekend Five: Blacksburg

New cadets of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
(Photo from Virginia Tech's Campus Snapshot Gallery)

As I sit writing this entry on Thursday evening, it is halftime in the Virginia Tech/Clemson game and ol' Polytechnic is up 10 - 7. Therefore, all things being equal, I figured that Tech warranted some attention. Even though I got my MA at ol' Virginny. UVA. Which is "grape" in Spanish.

1. VT Underground: This guy is awesome. During his tenure in Blacksburg, he systematically explored half the places in said city that, frankly, he wasn't supposed to. Primarily, though by no means exclusively, this means steam tunnels. Now, he gives warning that no one should attempt to duplicate his feats (and I quote, "DO NOT ENTER THE VIRGINIA TECH STEAM TUNNELS! Every few weeks I hear about yet another person or group who got injured or caught while exploring the tunnels. Tech has been cracking down on tunneling... they've locked up some of the best exits, and if you're spotted entering the tunnels the police will come in after you. Don't say I didn't warn you."), but if you were to, which we here at the HS simply cannot condone or anything, but if you were, wow, this is the site to learn how to do it. Of course, for urban explorer posers (e.g. yours truly), this site is a slice of heaven. If you're interested in other towns, specifically Radford and Charlottesville, you'll want to check this place out too - yeah. That.

2. Blacksburg's Bicentennial: 1798-1998: Like so many things in the glorious Commonwealth of Virginia, Blacksburg is "old." Not China old or Babylon old or Egypt old or India old, or even Europe old. But North America (north of the Rio Grande) old? Oh yeah.
Okay okay. Sure. 1998 was like, eight years ago. Whatever. Who cares? This site, a product of Virginia Tech's Special Collections, is still absolutely rock-solid. There are tons of pictures here, a plethora of fantastic maps, a complete written history, even a review of the area's archaeological jonx. Trust me, its worth an hour or two.

3. Smithfield Plantation: There are quite a few plantations in Virginia open to tourists and my Mom and Dad used to drive my little bro' and I through them pretty much constantly - I still find it interesting that Americans adapted the feudal estate (in a substantially different form, of course) to be the primary means of conquering the Southern expanses of the continent. But I digress.
I had no idea that western Virginia had any such entity - until I started this blog entry. That's when I found this place. I mean, read this byline:

On the eve of the American Revolution, the Virginia backcountry was a place of colliding cultures, clashing ideals, and physical danger. Wolves howled at night; panthers roamed the forest. Europeans and native Shawnee and Cherokee vied for the same fertile farmlands, often erupting into murderous violence.

Color me excited.

4. Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center: Another place I have never been and simply can't believe it - the Montgomery Museum is a historical and arts center focused on Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County, Virginia. The permanent exhibits completely rock, and the special exhibits tantalize. I will be visiting soon, if for no other reason than to learn more about the Christiansburg Industrial Institute.

Oh, and be sure not to miss this crazy awesome map - I am fascinated by the evolution of Virginia's counties - I know. I'm a nerd.

5. What is a Hokie?: Not so long ago I wrote a brief entry on how some of the region's universities chose their school colors (intriguingly, its one of our most commonly viewed entries from search engines), and this site was one of those I linked to. If you want some obscure data on a school whose symbolic representations just flat out need some explanation, well, this is the jonx. I mean, how can you beat this:

Since the university had a new name and a new yell, new college colors seemed to be a desirable next step. During 1896, a committee was formed to find a suitable combination of colors to replace the original colors of black and gray, which appeared in stripes on hats, books, athletic uniforms, and other paraphernalia and presented an image resembling prison uniforms.

So great.

Oh, and Tech beat Clemson. Ah, the purple pants, the purple pants.

This one, by the way, is for Poopie.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Appalachia A-La-Carte

A few things that recently caught my eye:

The New Face of Appalachia
By Kim Cobb, Houston Chronicle
Sunday, October 22, 2006

Restoring the Wealth of the Mountains pdf
Cleaning Up Appalachia's Abandoned Mines
A report produced by Trout Unlimited

Controversial nominee named as chief of mine safety agency

By The Associated Press
Monday October 23, 2006

Falls of Little Stony Creek, Scott County, VA

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Milepost 150 to 170, The Blue Ridge Parkway of Floyd County, Virginia

October Hike at Panther Creek

Another perfect October Saturday. It wasn't on the agenda but it was far too beautiful a day not to fit in at least a short hike at Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, Tennessee. The park has some 1400+ acres carved out of the land alongside Cherokee Lake and has a surprisingly isolated feel once you hike back into the woods.

After walking around a bit by the lake overlook, my son chose the Sinkholes Trail. The sinkhole phenomenon is intriguing to me - the idea of the limestone beneath your feet quietly dissolving away until the ground collapes into the cavern that has been formed. Occasionally a misplaced building is swallowed up. Here in the woods you get deep mossy rock pits.

It was cool in the shaded woods and we looked up once to see a deer watching us from close by as it grazed. Back out in the sun, the leaf color is stunning this time of year. Next time, we'll hit our other favorite, the Ore Mine trail.

Castanea Dentata

Courtesy Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library

The American Chestnut was king among trees in the eastern forests. At one time, it dominated the Appalachian mountains from Canada to Georgia and was estimated at a population numbering 4 billion or 25 percent of the eastern forest population. And it was BIG, growing up to 150 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter!

A critical commodity to the rural Appalachian economy, its wood was straight-grained, easily worked, lightweight and highly rot-resistant which made it prized for everything from lumber for home construction to furniture to split-rail fencing. Structures that date to the turn of the century were likely constructed of American Chestnut. The tree also produced nuts that were highly valuable and sought after by both people and wildlife.

However, an invasive species of fungus introduced from Asia brought a catastrophic blight to the American chestnut. First found in 1902 in New York's Bronx Zoo, the blight spread like wildfire throughout the east and within 40 years brought devastation the tree.

Specimens can still be found in the wild, but seldom greater than 20 feet tall and 6 inches in diameter. Two of the largest surviving American Chestnut trees are in Jackson County, Tennessee. One is the state champion and has a diameter of 61 cm (24 in) and a height of 23 meters (75 ft) and the other tree is nearly as large.

On May 18, 2006, a biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources spotted a stand of several trees near Warm Springs, Georgia. One of the trees is approximately 20-30 years old and 13 meters (40 ft) tall and is the southernmost American Chestnut tree known to be flowering and producing nuts. Another large tree was found in Talladega National Forest, Alabama on June 2006. It is 26 meters (85 ft) tall with a diameter of 35 centimeters (14 in).

A combination of factors may account for the survival of these relatively large American Chestnut trees including low levels of blight resistance, hypovirulence (the attacking blight fungus is weakened by a virus), and good site conditions. In some cases, large chestnut trees have just been lucky and have not yet been exposed to the blight-causing spores.

Several organizations are working on restoring the American Chestnut to its historic eastern range.

The American Chestnut Foundation
Probably the most notable organization working on behalf of the American Chestnut. Based in Bennington, Vermont, ACF seeks to restore the American Chestnut by creating a blight-resistant American Chestnut by "backcrossing" blight resistance from the Chinese chestnut into the American Chestnut, while maintaining the American Chestnut’s characteristics. A blight-resistant American Chestnut tree is expected to be ready soon for forest test-planting and for wider distribution within the next decade. An American Chestnut from ACF's research farm in Meadowview, VA was planted on the White House lawn during last year's Arbor Day celebration.

American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation
The American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation's goal is to raise funds to support graduate and undergraduate student research projects at Virginia Tech's Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology & Weed Science, and at Concord College, West Virginia. The research makes possible seedling and nut distributions from an all-American breeding program to restore American Chestnuts to native forests.

The Canadian Chestnut Council
The Canadian Chestnut Council is a charitable organization that has been actively involved since 1988 in the development and implementation of numerous objectives in support of the American Chestnut. CCC acts as an information network for coordinating the support efforts by various Chestnut enthusiasts and research scientists across Ontario and Canada, and to communicate with similar groups in the United States and elsewhere.

Also noteworthy is an article on the American Chestnut in National Geographic Magazine.

Bridge Day

I am embarrassed. Really, I am. I am West Virginia's biggest tourism advocate (at least in my neighborhood) and completely, utterly, absolutely forgot to post something on what is arguably the Mountain State's most rock-solid festival. Bridge Day.

The New River Gorge Bridge, near Fayetteville, West Virginia
(photo from the website of the New River Gorge National River)

For those of you who don't know, Bridge Day is the one day of the year that its completely legal for people to jump off the New River Gorge Bridge. If you don't know, by the way, the NRGB is the world's second largest single-span arched bridge over the tremendously beautiful New River Gorge (kind of like Eden if it were more vertical than described in all the major textbooks).

I've got some links for you.

- New River Gorge Bridge Day: Here we have the official website of Bridge Day (this year is, apparently, the 27th such celebration) - it'll give you the lowdown on the entire event - food vendors, base-jumping, events, souvenirs, the whole nine yards.

- This is the homepage of the New River Convention & Vistor's Bureau - it'll tell you where to stay and what to eat, since you'll be scrambling to get there this afternoon and won't have time to read a guide, unless you can read in the car, which is unsafe.

- The New River Gorge National River: This is the official National Park Service page for the NRG - you're gonna' want to check this page out in case you get all crazy and decide to get off the bridge and walk around in the "natural beauty."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Weekend Five

The Virginia Brewing Company
Image from Old Roanoke (page 38)

As part of my concerted effort to be a better blogger, I'm actually entering this week's Weekend Five in the midst of the weekend. Huzzah!

1. Forgotten Roanoke: This is a personal site, and frankly, I am a fan. First, I want to drop you the bio:

We are a married couple. She is from Florida originally, then moved to New York. He spent most of his life either on the edge of - or in New York City. We've always been interested in history, but in NY - if its old - its torn down. And besides, how many times does the history of NY need to be retold? However when we moved to Roanoke, and found a community that embraces its history, its old buildings - we were in heaven. Mostly because it seems alot of the older history of Roanoke has been "misplaced." And with the large amount of people just now moving into the area (not that we would know anything about that *koff koff*), we thought why not put together a site that explores Roanoke as best as we can. Of course, it also grew out of our frustration at not finding anything online about certain buildings downtown. I (KMC - she is KJC) remember my first trip down here with my parents while they were looking at places down at the lake for a vacation and possible retirement. I remember clearly seeing the side of Twists and Turns, before it was Twists and Turns. That glass block brick, and looking around at the surrounding area (this was probably about 1994) and thinking, wow - this place has serious potential. I was probably 18-19 at the time, and embarking (for the first time) on my culinary career. I remember thinking, what a great place for a restaurant. What a beautiful town. Well, it only took about 10 years, but Im finally here. Happy to see mountains instead of more houses.

Now, I find that interesting, the notion that folks from outta' town have embraced a city and, in their love of the place, have begun to seek out not only the well-known history, but the secret history. I'm reminded of course of Knoxville's own Jack Neely, and all I can say is that that's a very, very good thing. I think my pal Joe might just like this one.

2. Old Roanoke: And, speaking of great websites focusing on the Star City, how about Old Roanoke, which bills itself as, "A photographic history of Roanoke, Virginia." Wonderful.

3. Golden Globe of the World Expo: One of the blogs I try to check out at least once every week or so is, the homepage of a fellow named Jay Corless. The articles are always interesting, and often strike a note with me. Well, this one, which is brief but pleasant, is one of those, a short tale of Jay's first experience with our Beloved Sunsphere. Huzzah!

4. Bristol Herald Courier: "Wooly Worm Festival Underway This Weekend": I love woolly worms. They rock. Also, and I quote:

Working on the theory that the champion woolly worm that wins the race to the top of a three-foot string shall be the reigning meteorologist, Morton attracted national news coverage for the first event. Last year, 20,000 people showed up to cheer on the little fellows, and the contest will be staged yet again on Oct. 21-22 at Banner Elk Elementary School.

Yeah. You got it. for $5 American you can buy a meteorological arthropod. In Banner Elk, North Carolina. God, to have spare time.

5. Gary Monroe: I'm a daily reader of Boing Boing, one of the best damn web institutions ever, and it was therein that I found this site - think of it as Renaissance-style iconography fully integrated with that of snake-handling Biblical literalists in the Southern mountains. Awesome stuff. Even for a theologically morbid Methodist like me.

Highway 11W

As anyone who knows me reiterate, I don't like interstates. Oh, I know they serve a purpose, and sometimes I do use them, but if no one is in the car with me and I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time, well, I prefer the backroads, or rather the roads that were the main roads prior to the development of the American autobahn system. One of my favorites is the highway 11 system, specifically those runs of the highway that connect Abingdon, Virginia with Knoxville, Tennessee. I can't imagine the number of times I've run these roads, specifically highways 11E and highways 11W.

If you click on the image above (muchas gracias Wikipedia), then you'll see the stretches I mean in orange.

Well, I was in Emory this past weekend for Homecoming, and decided to take 11W home this past Tuesday and, as I drove down Main Street in Abingdon, I thought to myself, hell, why not take pictures of the major landmarks that, in my mind at least, define the trip. Consider:

First, there's the spot that inspired my little photographic fit of pique - downtown, Abingdon, Virginia right beside the Cave House, a great wine store, the legendary Tavern, and so on. The Cave House, of course, is where a pack of wolves that attacked Daniel Boone in the 1760s lived - a pack that gave Abingdon its first name, Wolf Hills.

Next is the Robert E. Lee Motel, a long defunct motel just north of Bristol, Virginia. I took this picture while filling up. There is a part of my head that has wanted to just pull over with a flashlight and my cane and slip in to explore - but my fear of being charged with trespassing or encountering hobos has long restrained me. For a creepy paragraph, scroll down this page from the Abingdon Virginian. Spookylicious.

The Helms Candy Company in Bristol, Virginia is one of the few remaining icons of the days when Bristol was a hub of candymaking - once having nine different companies making hundreds of different products. They've got a relatively new website worth a few minutes of anyone's time - I specifically recommend the page on the company's history. You also might want to hit ETSU's Reece Museum soon - they're having an exhibit on the city's candymaking tradition through January 31st.

Okay, this picture didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped it would - it's simply an intersection in the Euclid Avenue Historic District in Bristol, one of the prettiest drives in the region. I love the houses though this stretch, not to mention the beautiful schools and churches. ah.

I didn't get a good picture of the Grand Guitar, though it wasn't for lack of trying. I love the Grand Guitar. It is a huge guitar, just into Bristol, Tennessee. It is a museum, it is a radio station. And it is awesome. I borrowed this pic from their site which you all should visit almost as hard as you should visit their museum.

The Tennessee Mountaineer Restaurant isn't somewhere I've ever eaten - though I plan to in the near future - after all, how can you have a sign like that and not serve incredibly delicious vittles? I believe this joint is in Church Hill, a town I don't know particularly well, but one which, from what I have seen as I drive by, is quite lovely. Moving on. . .

Cherokee Lake, is a long, meandering body of water with a shoreline hundreds of miles long, reminiscent of of the rivers that spawned her. It is an artificial lake, only around 64 years old, a product of the Tennessee Valley Authority's radical reinvention of East Tennesseean geography (not to mention political-economy). As you drive down 11W you come into contact with the lake time and time again. On sunny days, especially when the water is low, the artificiality of the lake becomes manifest - it doesn't do much for me, frankly. But, on days like this last Tuesday, days where all the world is green and gray and brown, days when the water is high - well, some nooks have aged just enough to make one think of Inverness.

This house, or perhaps an old store, lies just to the southwest, as I remember at least, of Rutledge, Tennessee. I don't know who lived or worked there, or how long this place has been empty. But, as the greenbriar and the whitethorn grow up around it, well, I dunno', I like this place. I normally stop for at least a minute or two everytime I'm on 11W. Maybe I'm crazy.

Finally, as I roll into Knoxville, this is the landmark that tells me I'm home. Like the Tennessee Mountaineer, I've never actually been inside this Tavern - but I like to think that someday I will. Who knows.

Hike du Jour

The rocky spine in the background of the picture above is Cove Mountain, located in western Roanoke County, Virginia, near the community of Catawba (and world famous Homeplace Restaurant). One of the rocks atop this mountain is known as Dragon's Tooth. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see if you can't find a lower jaw of a dragon.

Hiking to the pinnacle of the mountain is one of my favorite day hikes in the region. The trail offers three approaches. First, local Boy Scouts have blazed a trail that is moderately easy leading up to an intersection with the Appalachian Trail. This is the most common for hikers to use because of the large parking area provided off of route 311 at the Roanoke / Craig County line. The second option is to hop on the A.T. and hike south, as described in this article that appeared in the Roanoke Times. The third option is to start at the Trout Creek / Appalachian Trail junction on the north side of Cove Mountain. This section will make you feel like you are climbing Everest but it the most rewarding for the views. Taking the A.T. north, you will pass through old pastures that are lined with rock walls, virgin evergreen stands and lots and lots o' rock out-croppings. You eventually get above treeline (due to the steepness of the terrain) and do a fair share of hand over hand climbing. This is right at the top of the mountain so you are rewarded with 360 views after seven miles of hiking uphill. If you choose to take this route, be advised that you must ford Trout Creek with your car before you get to the parking area. Just make sure that there is no chance of a rainstorm prior to your arrival so you don't get stranded. Being so close to Roanoke and Blacksburg, this time of year makes the first two hiking options a little crowded. I like solitude in on the trail so I prefer the third, little known, harder approach.

a view from the top

There is a season...

Some sights from around Camp Creek Bald Mountain.

The first pic from Blackstack Cliffs looks toward Tennessee. The second pic from nearby White Rock Cliffs looks into North Carolina.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Appalachian Characters

Anyone from East Tennessee has heard of the legendary politician, entertainer, and general curmudgeon Cas Walker. His career as a local politician made waves in the Knoxville political spectrum of the mid 20th century, and his famous radio and television show helped propel to stardom many household names, including Dolly Parton.

On October 27 at 6:00 and 8:15 PM a tribute to Cas will be held at the East Tennessee History Center, including bluegrass music and presentations by local film historians. Should be an interesting event...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Looking ahead to the weekend...

[Donna the Buffalo at FloydFest '06]
If you like snake charmers, great bands, microbrews, Ferris wheels, fire eaters, belly dancers and good food all in one place, then Floyd Fandango is the place for you this weekend. From its pastoral setting high atop the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Rock Castle Gorge at milepost 170.5 in Floyd County, Virginia, the festival site hosts thirteen musical acts, highlighted by Junior Brown on Saturday night, and fifteen microbreweries for some seasonal samplings. The two-day event, on October 21 & 22, intends to take on a carnival atmosphere with renaissance crafts, Ferris wheel and vaudeville style entertainment; sword swallowers, stilt walkers, jugglers, clowns, music, and camping. The $18 ticket gets you in the door and four microbrew tastings. For three dollars more, you can get a souvenir mug and one more beer. If you really want to have a good time, it will be $4 more per beer. If you just want to hear the music, watch the acts and be a D.D., you only need to pay $15. It would be tough for me to be that responsible around the breweries that will be in attendance. My favorites include New River Brewing, Three Floyds, New Knoxville, Troegs and Sierra Nevada. For the wine connoisseurs, Chateau Morrissette and Villa Appalaccia, both Floyd County wineries, will be pouring by the glass. Cheers!

(Tardy) Weekend Five: Appalachian Environmental Service Project

Volunteers at Caanan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia
For Information on Volunteering, visit their website at

First off, I want to apologize. Normally this would have been out on Friday, but I didn't get it done till Monday, due to my vast enjoyment of Homecoming at my dear old Emory & Henry College. Lo siento.

This past week I got to attend the annual Knoxville Orchids and Onions dinner. It is a great event - in essence, Knoxville's chapter of Keep America Beautiful (Keep Knoxville Beautiful) publically commends those organizations, corporations, and individuals who have substantially contributed to the area's beauty and/or environmental quality. Also, the dinner publicizes buildings and lots that are in grave need of repair or replacement, in part because they are mere eyesores, and in part because they are decreasing the value of the surrounding area - seeds, if you will, of urban blight.
Well, the dinner got this old Eagle Scout thinking, hmm, what organizations are there that help organize volunteer's contributions of both capital and service to the improvement of the Appalachian region's natural and urban beauty? I am interested in this for both practical and esoteric reasons - esoteric because I think the big ugly is bad thing, practical because beautiful places tend to have happier people who work harder and attract capital both in terms of business and tourism. Consider:

1. Keep America Beautiful: KAB describes itself quite admirably on its website. Consider:

Keep America Beautiful is a national nonprofit community improvement and educational organization with a network of more than 540 local, statewide and international affiliate programs that educates individuals about litter prevention and ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and properly manage waste materials. Through partnerships and strategic alliances with citizens, businesses and government, Keep America Beautiful’s programs motivate millions of volunteers annually to clean up, beautify and improve their neighborhoods, thereby creating healthier, safer and more livable community environments. The story begins in 1953, when a group of corporate and civic leaders met in New York City to discuss a revolutionary idea—bringing the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic.

Groovy, eh? You might be interested to know that two of the states in the southern Appalachians, Tennnessee and West Virginia, have their own websites/organizations, with Knoxville and Sevier County, both in Tennessee, having solid sites of their own. Hitting the American site, however, will put you into contact with whatever private or public body coordinates KAB locally in your area.

2. Appalachian Trail Conservancy: I think I'm going to stick to the big quote theme today, so, without further ado:

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a volunteer-based, private nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the 2,175-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail, a 250,000-acre greenway extending from Maine to Georgia. Our mission is to ensure that future generations will enjoy the clean air and water, scenic vistas, wildlife and opportunities for simple recreation and renewal along the entire Trail corridor.
Formerly known as the Appalachian Trail Conference, the ATC is an 80-year-old organization whose roots are traced to the vision of Benton MacKaye, who convened and organized the first Appalachian Trail "conference" – a gathering of hikers, foresters and public officials – in Washington, D.C., in 1925. Today, we work with the National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office, 30 maintaining clubs and multiple other partners to engage the public in conserving this essential American resource.

Living in Knoxville, I know a thing or two about maintaining interstates. Along with Vol football, interstate maintenance and expansion (and the costs and delays involved) is the most common subject of conversation here. Well, think of the AT as the most used interstate for hikers - between foot traffic and weather, it takes a beating. Well, whether you're a long distance hiker or a day hiker, you're using a service that has to be "paid" for somehow. Volunteers pay that cost through their labor. Give'm a call.

3. The Nature Conservancy: In essence, the Nature Conservancy, one of the better known nature conservation groups, does tons of volunteer work all over the world, coordinating every imaginable sort of project. You're interested in some local work? Sure you are. Well, why not click on one of the links to the various state organizations: Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Oh, and by the by, fantastic website.

4. Adopt-a-Highway Programs: Okay, okay, this one, notsomuch a link as much as it is a few links. Who really needs an explanation of this incredibly popular program - you get your group to volunteer to maintain a roadway in your local area, promising to clean a two-mile stretch of litter three or four times a year. I just have to quote this quip on West Virginia's Department of Transportation site:

In West Virginia there are currently 30,000 volunteers who regularly pick up litter on 4,000 miles of highway. They have been responsible for removing more than 20 million pounds of litter since the program began.

Did you get that? 20,000,000 pounds. 4000 miles. That's people helping people, baby.

Its all pretty simple, makes a huge difference in a road's appearance, and you don't need many people to do it - on a city street with no median four people could do it in an hour or so: Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.

5. American's in general are blessed by two key points. Our nation-state did not develop either as quickly as some nor as early as others. This gave us the ability to avoid some of the mistakes (though of course not all) of our peer nation-states with regards to our natural environment. The good Mr. Teddy Roosevelt, along with other visionaries such as John Muir, thus had the ability to limit the extent of our development of our terrain, allowing us to preserve a substantial part of what the Deity blessed this continent with. The same point can be made in spades for Appalachia, where some counties are overwhelmingly still in their natural states, allowing men and women to have gainful employment in our modern service industries and yet still live in and around Beauty. I capitalize it because, dammit, its a noun in Appalachia.
Americans, and vistors to the Union, appreciate this incredible Beauty - they visit it often and repeatedly. Heck, the most visited national park in the country is the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest, receiving literally millions of visitors every year. That said, despite all this admiration, despite this appreciation, many people don't follow that ironclad law I learned when I was 6 and a Tiger Cub (that's lower than either a Cub Scout or a worm's belly, for those of you interested): take only photos, leave only footprints. And since the United States has neither unlimited resources nor do we want to be taxed at extraordinarily high rates, it takes volunteers to maintain our parks, to clean up after ourselves.
Enter, stage left,

Volunteer.Gov/Gov is a partnership among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, State of New York Division of Veterans Affairs, the Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S.A. Freedom Corps aimed at providing a single, easy-to-use web portal with information about volunteer opportunities. The site allows you to search for volunteer opportunities by keyword, state, activity, partner, and/or date range.

All the site is, in other words, is a way for you, the citizens of the Union, to find out ways to help other citizens take care of the holdings of the Union for the benefit of yourselves and your children. For some, its beneficence, for others its self-interest. And for others, it's the trees.
All that said, you can either link into the sites via the site's gateway/index or you can just hit the state-based sites: Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Appalachian Greens: Wheeling, WV Early History

I try to keep up with what the folks over at Appalachian Greens are saying - I'm an independent myself, but I've voted for my fair share of Green candidates (of course, I've also voted for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) and I like to keep up with what they're saying. Well, I was reading this afternoon and found this great historical entry on Wheeling, West Virginia's early history. The entry, posted by a gentleman named kayakdave (sorry, no full name) is, apparently, going to be multi-stage. Don't worry, we'll keep an eye out.

Wheeling, West Virginia, a settlement on the 18th century frontier, it’s early history.
Before Europeans took over, the land in the vicinity of Wheeling was inhabited by what is assumed to be the ancestors of modern American Indians. Evidence of human habitation can be found dating to around 15,000 years ago. Later, about 1,000 years ago, a culture known collectively as Moundbuilders inhabited the area, leaving behind large earthen mounds. Moundsville, WV, as you can probably guess, is the home to a very large one. The Moundbuilders left little behind other than their mounds but seem to have developed agriculture and lived in fairly large communities with an apparent class system. By 1749, tension over the fur trade and overlapping claims of the English and French in the Ohio Valley led to an expedition headed by Capt. Pierre Joseph de Celoron de Blainville being sent down the river to officially claim the land. ( I have heard that they needed a canoe just to haul his name along!) On June 15, 1749 Blainville left Montreal with 272 men. Hugging the south shore of Lake Erie they found the mouth of Apple Creek and ascended to the portage. After much trial and toil they reached the Allegheney River and buried the first of the lead plates which claimed the land for France. Eventually they reached the mouth of Wheeling Creek and buried yet another lead plate- which has never been found. The seventh and last lead plate was buried at the mouth of the Great Miami River, near present Cincinnati, OH. Blainville ascended the Miami, portaged to the Auglaize River and descended to the western end of Lake Erie and made Montreal on Nov. 10, an average of 16 miles a day, not bad. Soon the English responded and the French and Indian War broke out. When it was over, the French had been evicted from North America. With the French gone, seeds of Revolution germinated in the minds of some Americans.
The stage is now set. Enter the actors.
Ebenezer Zane, 22 years old, had an itch and a vision. The itch had made him move to Redstone Creek, present Brownsville, PA. His vision would lead him to erect the first cabin in what would become Wheeling, West Virginia. From listening to traders returning from Indian territory he saw that instead of floating down the Monongahela River (locally called the Mon) to Pittsburgh and then down the Ohio it would be easy to strike out due west on horseback and eventually hit the Ohio. The Ohio River has had many names. The Shawnees called it Spaylaywitheepi, the Iroquois called it Oligensipen and the French called it La Belle Riviere, and there were others. Most all of the names mean essentially- the beautiful river. It was also a river of death.
In June 1769, along with his brothers Silas and Jonathan, friend Isaac Williams, 4 dogs and two slaves Ebenezer set out on his expedition. Swimming the Mon, they followed Ten Mile Creek to the northwest and it’s headwaters. They soon encountered the headwaters of Wheeling Creek. Several days later they encountered Middle Wheeling Creek entering Wheeling Creek from the east. Middle Wheeling Creek is almost as large as Wheeling Creek and for the next 8 miles Wheeling Creek takes on the proportions of a small river. The Shawnees referred to Wheeling Creek as Macatetheepi- Gunpowder River. The forks of Wheeling Creek are mentioned in a journal of G. Washington. Members of the Washington family would claim land in the area in the near future. Just below the forks Zane encountered an elderly Delaware Indian cooking a fish. After making peace signs Zane approached the Indian and asked the name of the creek. "Weiling" replied the Indian. So Wheeling it was.
( I guess these folks were not to creative in the name department. Today there is "Big" Wheeling Creek, "Middle" Wheeling Creek and "Little" Wheeling Creek. These are pronounced "crick" amongst us natives and only become "creek" when speaking to outsiders.)( I don’t know if it is my own personal quirk or not but if I say "I’m going down to the creek" I say "crick". If however I say I’m going down to Buffalo Creek I pronounce it "creek", as if using the official name somehow forces conformity.)
The party reached the mouth of the creek and were delighted with the rich bottomland they found. Ebenezer, as the eldest, made the first claim on a fine level terrace north of the creek about 16 feet above the water. The brothers had soon claimed all the land along Wheeling Creek clear back to the fork, well in excess of the limit. Apparently the claims were never questioned. (There is also a Wheeling Creek that enters the Ohio River from the west almost directly across the river from Wheeling Creek. In fact almost every creek along this stretch of river has a counterpart across the river with the same name. To avoid confusion the Wheeling Creek that enters the Ohio from the east will be called Wheeling Creek. The Wheeling Creek that enters the river from the west will be referred to as Indian Wheeling Creek, as was the practice back then) Their lust for land satisfied for the moment, they cleared ten acres on Ebenezer’s claim and erected a cabin. Isaac Williams however had a bit more wanderlust in his blood than the Zanes and decided to set off down the Ohio saying he would be back after a spell. Ten years later Williams returned, having seen the Rockies and points thereabouts.
Silas remained at the cabin while Ebenezer and Jonathan returned to the Zane cabin on Redstone Creek to bring Ebenezer’s wife to their new home in the spring. Ebenezer’s wife, Elizabeth, presented him with their first child upon his arrival, a daughter named Catherine. Catherine would grow to maturity in Wheeling and marry Capt. Absalom Martin of the US Army. Elizabeth was as taken with the land as her husband had been and they agreed that here they would sink their roots.
Lewis Bonnett, John Wetzel, Conrad Stoup, Martin Stull, George Rhinehart, Jacob Reagen, Martin Kellar, John Pectoll, James Clark, Abraham Messer and Adam Grindstaff set out from Redstone in 1770 having reached the same conclusion as Zane but a year latter. They hit the headwaters of Wheeling Creek and followed it downstream only to be disappointed when they found all the bottomland from the Forks of the Wheeling to the river already claimed. So they backtracked to the Forks and started claiming land going up Wheeling Creek. Bonnett as leader got first pick and the rest drew straws. ( I now live on a piece of Bonnett’s claim, it later became my cousin’s farm and I live in what I remember as a corn field. Is this progress?) Wetzel had bad luck and ended up some seven miles above the Forks. While claiming his land Wetzel spotted a bear in a hollow tree. He brought the tree down with several blows of his ax and when the bear tumbled out he jumped on it’s back, encircled it’s throat with one arm and killed it with a few strokes of his tomahawk, while his companions hooted and cheered.
A family of seven came down the Ohio and claimed land at the mouth of Short Creek, 9 miles above Wheeling. Samuel and Rachel McCulloch had 2 daughters and four sons, Nancy, Samuel, John, Abraham and George. Their other daughter, Elizabeth, had married a fellow named Zane. Sam and Rachel quickly decided that there was much danger of Indian attack and returned to their home on the South Branch of the Potomac. Their grown children determined that they would stay.
A settlement named Holliday’s Cove was established in May 1771, 25 miles above Wheeling. Among the settlers was one Harmon Greathouse and his sons Jacob and Daniel.
Talgayeeta, known as Chief Logan to the whites, was reported to have fine strong features and kind eyes. He was born in the village of Shamokin at the forks of the Susquehanna about 1731, the son of Shikellimus. Shikellimus was friendly with William Penn and his friend John Logan. When Talgayeeta was born Shikellimus gave him an alternate name-Logan. Chief Logan became well known for his generosity and hospitality, often referred to in the writings of the day as "a friend to the white man". Known as a man of peace he was also known to be a frightful enemy when circumstances so dictated. At the outbreak of the French and Indian War, Logan declared himself neutral and was ostracized by his tribe. He called upon others that felt as he did to join him and he established a settlement in present Mifflin County, PA. A goodly number went with him and they began referring to themselves an Mingos- Chiefs all, Warriors all- nobody outranked anybody.
Ebenezer Zane began selling off lots and by 1774 Wheeling had become a village of some 40 souls and a trading center. Rumors of Indian attacks swept the upper Ohio Valley in the spring of 1774 and a meeting was held at Briscoe’s Settlement, present Parkersburg, WV. Among those present were Briscoe, Jacob Greathouse , Capt. Mike Cresap and about 3 dozen others. There was talk of attacking the Indians but Cresap felt the best thing to do was to go upriver to Wheeling where there was better protection and there would likely be more information available, as no one present had actually seen any signs of an actual Indian attack.
By this time Logan had relocated his village to the mouth of Yellow Creek, just south of present Wellsville, OH, where it enters the Ohio. (Today the State of Ohio maintains a rest stop on the south shore of Yellow Creek opposite the site of Logan’s settlement, no marker is present. I generally stop here on the return trip when I visit the son)(I have an oak tree growing in my back yard that was started from an acorn taken from the site of Logan’s settlement- I also planted an acorn from Monticello at my last home, I guess the tree is still there)
Some 400 people were now assembled at Wheeling. The Zanes argued that nothing should be done to start trouble with the Indians as no real information was at hand. Cresap and Greathouse argued for an attack. A goodly number of people packed up and headed east toward Catfish Camp,(present Washington, PA) Redstone, (present Brownsville,PA) and beyond, giving up on settling the west. A messenger arrived from Ft. Pitt with a warning from the commander to increase their watchfulness as Indian trouble was expected. A group of about 20 Indians was reported at the mouth of Captina Creek some 10 miles south of Wheeling. An attack was organized, amidst protests from those with cooler heads, and set off. The attack was bungled when a settlers gun went off accidentally and alerted the Indians. Nevertheless 3 Indians were killed and several wounded along with a settler known only as Big Tarrener. Two Indians were killed at the mouth of Indian Short Creek the following day. Big Tarrener later died of his wounds at Catfish Camp.
Cooler heads started to prevail when what had been done began to sink in. A group of 32 were not yet satisfied and they headed upriver to Yellow Creek, some 35 miles above Wheeling. Among the 32, known to have participated were Daniel & Jacob Greathouse, Rafe & John Mahon, Joseph Tomlinson, Ed King, John Martin, George Cox, John Sappington, William Grills, Michael Myers, William Fitzgerald, Joseph Smith (a one armed man) and John Biggs. It is believed Joshua Baker and Samuel Tomlinson also participated. The names of the remainder have been lost to history. Cresap did not participate, though his name would become linked to the massacre.
They lured some of the Indians to the east bank, known as Baker’s Bottom, with kegs of whiskey and promises of a great party. Most of the whites remained hidden and in the middle of the festivities the attack was launched. Logan, who was not present, lost his brother, wife, nephew, sister and possibly his mother. His sisters unborn baby was removed and scalped. All told about 20 Indians were murdered. Logan vowed revenge. All accounts indicate he got it. He may have killed David Duncan, a frontiersman of some note. Shortly after this a delegation of Indians on a peace mission were ambushed at Ft. Pitt and as they say, it hit the fan. The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. Indian raiding parties penetrated deep into West Virginia and Pennsylvania killing whole families. A expedition was organized to attack the Indian villages located in the area of present Columbus, OH. General Andrew Lewis led half the expedition down the Kanawha River to Point Pleasant, WV on the Ohio and camped there awaiting the arrival of the expeditions other half under Lord Dunmore. The Indians attacked Lewis at his camp. The Battle of Point Pleasant ended pretty much a draw with casualties fairly heavy on both sides. The Indians withdrew back across the Ohio with Cornstalk standing in his canoe facing backwards so that it could not be said he had turned his back on the whites. Lord Dunmore then landed on the Ohio shore rather than follow the plan to meet up with Lewis. This was designed to steal the glory from Lewis and the Colonial militia. With Dunmore’s army approaching, the Indians sued for peace and a treaty was worked out at Camp Charlotte. Lewis marched his army to attack anyway and was finally ordered east at the insistence of Dunmore. Later, at the start of the Revolution, Lewis would have the pleasure of chasing Dunmore out of Virginia.
When invited to the Camp Charlotte peace talks toward the end of the year Logan instead dictated a message to be delivered.
" I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry and I gave him not meat; if ever he came cold or naked and I gave him not clothing. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his tent, an advocate of peace. Nay, such was my love for the whites that those of my own country pointed at me as I passed and said, "Logan is a friend of the white man." I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relatives of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbor the thought that mine is the joy of fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to morn for Logan? Not one."
The agreements reached at Camp Charlotte were pretty much ignored by both sides. Both sides continued to kill members of the other when the opportunity presented itself.
At the beginning of the American Revolution most Indian tribes attempted to remain neutral. Thayendanegea, Chief Joseph Brant to the whites, persuaded the Mohawks and the Six Nations to back the British early on however. The Six Nations would pay a terrible price some years later as the Revolution cooled down in the North. With trouble afoot the Zanes erected a fort at Wheeling and converted the cabin to a blockhouse. Fort Henry, named after Patrick Henry, wasn’t all that much of a fort but it was better than nothing.
Old John Wetzel, as he became known around Wheeling, had over 100 acres cleared and producing crops on his claim in the seven years since his arrival. In the year of the "bloody three sevens" his children were Christina 21, Martin 20, George 17, Lewis 13, Jacob 11, Susan 9 and John Jr. 7. Old John took Lewis and Jacob for a long walk in the woods and set up camp, cooked a meal and asked the kids if they were planning to eat as this meal was his alone. You can find things to eat all around you if you get hungry he told them. This was their introduction to survival on the frontier. In August, 1777 Old John took his family to hole up in Wheeling for a spell. After a week he, Lewis Jacob and George headed up the creek to tend the crops. As they neared their cabin everything seemed to be in order. The horses were there and the dog was still nursing the 4 pups. Nothing had been disturbed in the cabin. So the four began hoeing, George and Old John inexplicably leaving their rifles in the cabin. After a time Old John sent Lewis and Jacob to fetch the rifles. The boys had just entered the cabin when a party of seven Wyandots appeared. They shot Lewis, wounding him lightly and captured the boys. Grabbing the rifles, blankets, horses and such they fled with their prisoners. Old John and George having heard the shot could only watch helplessly from nearby hiding before they headed for Wheeling for help. Lewis and Jacob were taken across the Ohio and several miles inland before nightfall. They were tied up for the night. In the morning they were led northwest for a day. That night the boys got loose, retrieved the stolen guns and headed east, avoiding detection throughout the day and eventually emerged on the Ohio at the mouth of Indian Wheeling Creek.
The capture of the Wetzel boys caused considerable consternation. Patrols were organized to detect Indian intrusions on the east bank of the Ohio. It was one such patrol consisting of Old John, George, Martin Wetzel and John Baker that set out, August 22 to check on McMechen’s Settlement some 5 miles below Wheeling. Finding no sign of Indians they continued another 9 miles to Round Bottom to check on the blockhouse there. Several families were holed up and reported having seem Indians about. They decided to continue to Cresap Bottom another 6 miles and a full 20 miles below Wheeling. While at that blockhouse a party of Indians emerged on the shore across the river. John Baker took aim and the others began teasing him that he would never hit one at 300 yards. Baker fired and an Indian dropped stone cold dead across the river. Baker hurriedly crossed to claim the scalp despite Old John’s warnings that it would be best to wait a spell. With no real choice the Wetzels followed. As Baker stepped ashore two shots rang out and Baker collapsed on shore. Two Indians appeared and drug him into cover. Screams were heard as the Wetzels landed. They found Baker still alive, shot twice in the chest and stomach, scalped and his eyes torn out. They got him back to the east shore where he soon died.
On the morning of Sept.1, 1777 the Indians attacked Wheeling. Dr. David McMahan, of Baltimore, MD, owned two slaves, Sam and Ezra, who were rounding up horses with the help of John Boyd and Jacob Greathouse. As they recovered the horses and turned back toward the fort a shot rang out and a ball passed through Boyd’s throat, killing him instantly. The Indians charged the group who turned and fled. Ezra was captured and never seen again, Greathouse and Sam got away to the fort. The shot alerted Wheeling and everyone fled to the fort except for a group including Silas, Elisabeth and Jonathan Zane which manned the blockhouse. Col. Shepherd, commander of Ft. Henry, sent out a patrol under Captains Meason and Ogle with 24 men to see what was up, leaving 33 men in the fort. As the patrol neared the ambush site the patrol was itself ambushed. Martin Wetzel escaped back to the fort, John Caldwell escaped across the creek in the direction of Shepherd’s Fort at the Forks of Wheeling Creek and Robert Harkness escaped up Wood’s Run and eventually made it to Fort Vanmetre on Short Creek. Nineteen of the 26 were killed outright, the remainder getting away. At least one didn’t stop until reaching Cumberland, MD. At Ft. Vanmetre, Maj. Samuel McCulloch rounded up 31 men and, with all on horseback, headed to Wheeling after sending a runner to Holidays Cove with news of the attack. When they came within sight of Ft. Henry Sam ordered his brother, John, to lead the troops into the fort and he would bring up the rear. They raced for the gate and Sam got cut off as Indians emerged from the nearby cornfields. He turned to backtrack but found Indians blocking the way. Sam turned up Wheeling Hill in an effort to escape. All the riders made it to the fort with several of them receiving light wounds and 5 horses had to be put down. Having raced the 7 miles to Wheeling and now climbing the 400 feet to the top of Wheeling Hill, McCulloch’s horse was near spent when he met another group of Indians. Almost without thought McCulloch turned right and urged his mount over the cliff on the east side of the hill. The Indians gathered at the top and watched as McCulloch and horse emerged from the trees at the bottom. When they saw this the Indians raised a cheer for their courageous enemy. Today there is a marker at the spot alongside US Route 40 to commemorate the event. Rt. 40 did not exist at the time so McCulloch had to have jumped from even higher than the location of the monument. I’ve been there and looked over. It’s near straight down. That none of the Indians attempted to follow him points out the desperation McCulloch felt when he rode over the edge. It’s known as McCulloch’s Leap. A bar, that no longer exists, at the base of the hill was known as "The Leap". McCulloch’s white horse spent the rest of it’s life being well cared for and honored before dying at age 34. The horse outlived it’s fabled owner but that happens later. A British officer approached the fort under a flag of truce and called for it’s surrender. The reply was typically American. The assault against Wheeling began just after the arrival of McCulloch’s troops and raged for 6 hours before sundown. In the Zane blockhouse it was discovered that a keg of gunpowder that was to be kept on hand was empty. Elizabeth Zane (Betsy) demanded she be the one to run to the fort for more powder. Apparently she was a woman that usually got her way. She dashed the 60 yards to the fort and 2/3 of a keg of powder was dumped into her apron. The Indians had not fired at her for some reason. The return trip was more eventful. Slowed by the weight she struggled back to the blockhouse with bullets whizzing around her, several tore through her skirt. Betsy had secured her place in local folklore. Everyone in the fort was busy. Mrs. Henry Glum merrily stood at the pickets picking off Indians that showed themselves. Most loaded rifles and passed them up to the shooters. Others prepared food, boiling water, bandages and such. A major assault was beaten off by pouring boiling water on the attackers as they attempted to batter down the gate. The Indians hollowed out a maple log in an attempt to make a cannon. They loaded it with powder and lead balls, nails and scrap metal laying about. They fired it at the gate. Needless to say it exploded, killing 3 Indians and wounding about 20 others. In their outrage the Indians began killing livestock and burning cabins. Ebenezer Zane at one point took aim at an Indian on Wheeling Island some 300 yards away and dropped him. At dusk the Indians pulled back and it looked as if there would be a siege.
Around this time runners had reached Holliday’s Cove and Catfish Camp. Col. Andrew Van Swearington at Holliday’s could round up only 14 men. There were not enough horses for even this number so they set out in canoes. At Catfish Camp luck went to the settlers. Two companies of militia had been called out to drill and had not yet been dismissed when the runner arrived. A night march was organized and started out. A thick fog settled on the river that night and Col. Swearington could not be sure of his location on the river. They ran aground several times. It was when they spotted a pink glow in the mist that they were sure they had arrived near their destination and feared that Wheeling had gone under. Three men exited the canoe and crept in the darkness toward Wheeling. They made it to the fort and were admitted. The Indians, aware of the approach of the two companies from Catfish Camp had skedattled during the night.

Well folks that’s the end of Part One. Most of the characters have been introduced. The further adventures of the Zanes, Wetzels, the second siege of Wheeling and other tales will be continued at a later date. Digging up these facts is time consuming so it will be at least a week or two.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This Weekend: the everybodyfields in Knoxville

Awhile back, I posted a review of the last time the everybodyfields played Barley's in Knoxville. It was, as always, an amazing performance. Well if you are going to be in the area this weekend, you have two opportunities to catch them live. First, they will play at Blue Cats in the Old City, opening for The Duhks.

On Saturday they are headlining Knoxville's annual Brewer's Jam, on the lawn in World's Fair Park. If you like great beer with your great live music, this is the place to be this weekend. $20 in advance, or $25 at the gate will get you a mug, the show, and all of the samples you can handle from craft brewers from all over the country.
the everybodyfields on Rhapsody

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fall Festivals


It’s time to get on the roads and the paths in order to enjoy the beauty of fall. The leaves are starting to change and I can see them from Richmond. So many events are scheduled in the mountains to celebrate autumn. The tractors are out in full force pricking their way down the road at twelve miles an hour to catch the harvest before the first frost so be careful. Take your time and enjoy what you are seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing. So, if you are looking for a way to keep track of all the upcoming events and festivals of our breathtaking mountain fall then I just found a link that will make your life so much easier. Click on a Virginia State Webpage here and browse events from Danville, Staunton, Chesapeake and so on. The events are listed on the right side with next closest date. This is such a great reference site for those of you who spend most of your fall experiences outside wandering around.

Werbsite here


Another great source is an artile at by Neil Harvey

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An Appalachian Celtic Journey

The Tri-Cities based Celtic band, Fire in the Kitchen, is the perfect listening for a day like today. The fog hides the mountains and mist is in the air in the valleys. It's the kind of day that you just want to hide under a wool blanket, drink some hot tea, grab a good book and listen to some music from the Highlands. FITK's first album, An Appalachian Celtic Journey, is a compilation of traditional Celtic jigs and mountain tunes with an Irish twist. The four musicians in the group play a number of combinations of instruments, including hammer dulcimer, penny whistle, guitar, flute, upright bass, violin and viola. Check out their web-site linked above for show dates and times. They have several coming up in the region.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mazey Afternoon

A little local October fun – Fender’s Farm in the rolling hills outside of Jonesborough, TN. The main attraction at the farm is their corn maze.

Their web site shows that the maze is shaped like an alien with crop circles, but to us it looked more like this.

It was more difficult to navigate than it looked, and we hoped for an intervention of some sort. Eventually we gave up, broke through a barrier and escaped.

Still, not a bad way to spend a cool fall day.