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Title: Appalachia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Midwestern United States, Upland South, Southwest Virginia, West Virginia, Southern United States
Collection: Appalachia, Appalachian Culture, Appalachian Studies, Regions of the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Areas included under the Appalachian Regional Commission's charter.

Appalachia ( or ) is a

  • , 1972 – presentAppalachian JournalScholarly articles from the
  • 1965 Original Congressional definition
  • Appalachia at DMOZ
  • "Appalachia: Hollow Promises", a comprehensive 1999 series of articles on the region and the ARC published in the Columbus Dispatch
  • Appalachian Center for Economy and the Environment
  • Digital Library of Appalachia
  • Morehead State University Center for Virtual Appalachia
  • University of Kentucky Appalachian Center
  • "Space, Place, and Appalachia", Southern Spaces, June 3, 2009.
  • The Uses and Misuses of Appalachian Culture

External links

  • Abramson, Rudy and Haskell, Jean, editors (2006). Encyclopedia of Appalachia, University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-456-8
  • Becker, Jane S. Inventing Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930–1940 (1998).
  • Biggers, Jeff (2006). The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture and Enlightenment to America (New ed.). Shoemaker and Hoard.  
  • Davis, Donald Edward. Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians 2000.
  • Dawley, Jr., Thomas R. (March 1910). "Our Southern Mountaineers: Removal The Remedy For The Evils That Isolation And Poverty Have Brought".  
  • Dotter, Earl. "Coalfield Generations: Health, Mining and the Environment" Southern Spaces, July 16, 2008.
  • Eller, Ronald D. (2008). Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945. The University Press of Kentucky.  
  • Eller, Ronald D. Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880–1930 1982.
  • Ford, Thomas R. ed. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey. (1967), includes highly detailed statistics.
  • Kephart, Horace (1922). Our Southern Highlanders (New and revised ed.). Macmillan. text online  
  • Lee, Tom, "Southern Appalachia's Nineteenth-Century Bright Tobacco Boom: Industrialization, Urbanization, and the Culture of Tobacco," Agricultural History 88 (Spring 2014), 175-206. online
  • Lewis, Ronald L. Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia, 1880–1920 (1998) online edition
  • Light, Melanie and Ken Light (2006). Coal Hollow. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24654-6
  • Noe, Kenneth W. and Shannon H. Wilson, Civil War in Appalachia (1997)
  • Obermiller, Phillip J., Thomas E. Wagner, and E. Bruce Tucker, editors (2000). Appalachian Odyssey: Historical Perspectives on the Great Migration. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96851-0
  • Olson, Ted (1998). Blue Ridge Folklife. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-023-0
  • Pudup, Mary Beth, Dwight B. Billings, and Altina L. Waller, eds. Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century. (1995).
  • Sarnoff, Susan; Yoon, Hong-Sik (2003). "Central Appalachia – Still the Other America". Journal of Poverty (The Haworth Press) 7 (1 & 2): 123–139.  
  • Slap, Andrew L., (ed.) (2010). Reconstructing Appalachia: The Civil War's Aftermath Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
  • Stewart, Bruce E. (ed.) (2012). Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
  • Walls, David (1977). "On the Naming of Appalachia" An Appalachian Symposium. Edited by J. W. Williamson. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University Press.
  • Williams, John Alexander. Appalachia: A History (2002) online edition

References and bibliography

  1. ^ a b "Appalachian Region". Appalachian Regional Commission. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Census Population Change, 2000–2010". Appalachian Regional Commission. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Rudy Abramson, Introduction to Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. xix—xxv.
  4. ^ Sokol, Anna. "Economic Redevelopment in Appalachia: The Appalachian Regional Commission". University of Michigan. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ In Virginia, all municipalities incorporated as "cities" are legally separate from counties.
  7. ^ a b c John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), pp. 11–14.
  8. ^ Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell, eds., Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1287-8.
  9. ^ After Florida,  
  10. ^ Walls, David (1977), "On the Naming of Appalachia," In An Appalachian Symposium, pp. 56–76.
  11. ^ Blaustein, Richard (2003), The Thistle and the Brier: Historical Links and Cultural Parallels Between Scotland and Appalachia, pp. 21.
  12. ^ Stewart, George R. (1967). Names on the Land. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  13. ^ Walls, David (2006). "Appalachia." The Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press), pp. 1006–1007.
  14. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1993), p. 102.
  15. ^ Charles Hudson, The Juan Pardo Expeditions: Explorations of the Carolinas and Tennessee, 1566–1568 (Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 2005), p. 17.
  16. ^ a b Williams, Appalachia: A History, pp. 30–44.
  17. ^ Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, pp. 7–13, 19.
  18. ^ a b Richard Drake, A History of Appalachia (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), pp. 59–69.
  19. ^ John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History, pp. 64–68.
  20. ^ John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History, pp. 118–9.
  21. ^ John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History, p. 141.
  22. ^ Eric Lacy, Vanquished Volunteers: East Tennessee Sectionalism from Statehood to Secession (Johnson City, Tenn.: East Tennessee State University Press, 1965), pp. 122–126.
  23. ^ a b c Gordon McKinney, "The Civil War." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1579–1581.
  24. ^ a b John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History, pp. 160–165.
  25. ^ Curry, Richard O. A House Divided, Statehood Politics & the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1964, pgs. 141–147. Twenty-four of the most mountainous counties of West Virginia voted for the Secession Ordinance on May 23, 1861.
  26. ^ "Most of West Virginia went through the Civil war not as an asset to the Union but as a troublesome battleground, while the Unionist Ohio River counties struggled to cope with the tide of refugees fleeing to their sanctuary from the interior." Weigley, Russell F. A Great Civil War, W.W. Norton, 2003, pg. 55
  27. ^ Margaret D. Binnicker, "Scott County", Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture Encyclopedia (, retrieved 2011-02-08 
  28. ^ a b c Drake, A History of Appalachia, p. 109-123.
  29. ^ Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, pp. 39–45.
  30. ^ Drake, A History of Appalachia, 131–141.
  31. ^ a b John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History, pp. 187–193.
  32. ^ E.g. see Matthew H. Walker, Discrimination Based on National Origin and Ancestry: How the Goals of Equality Have Failed to Address the Pervasive Stereotyping of the Appalachian Tradition, 38 U. Dayton L. Rev. 335 (2013).
  33. ^ Keith F. Otterbein, "Five Feuds: An Analysis of Homicides in Eastern Kentucky in the Late Nineteenth Century," American Anthropologist, June 2000, Vol. 102 Issue 2, pp 231–43, provides a theoretical analysis
  34. ^ Dwight B. Billings and Kathleen M. Blee, "'Where the Sun Set Crimson and the Moon Rose Red": Writing Appalachia and the Kentucky Mountain Feuds," Southern Cultures, Summer 1996, Vol. 2 Issue 3/4, pp 329–352
  35. ^ a b Drake, A History of Appalachia, pp. 200–210.
  36. ^ John Alexander Williams, Appalachia: A History, pp. 310–312.
  37. ^ "ARC-Designated Distressed Counties, Fiscal Year 2010". Appalachian Regional Commission. Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  38. ^ David Newhall, "English." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 253–255.
  39. ^ Rouse, Parke Jr., The Great Wagon Road, Dietz Press, 2004, pg. 32; Leyburn, James G., The Scotch-Irish: A Social History, Univ of NC Press, 1962, pg. 180
  40. ^ a b David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 620–630.
  41. ^ John Ellis, "Welsh." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), p. 282.
  42. ^ Bruce Betler, "Swiss." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 281–282.
  43. ^ Dwight Billings and Kathleen Blee, "African-American Families and Communities." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 155–156.
  44. ^ Ima Stephens, "Black Dutch." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 2006), p. 248.
  45. ^ Howard Dorgan, Introduction to the "Religion" section, Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1281–1289.
  46. ^ a b Clifford Grammich, "Baptists, the Old-Time Groups." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee, 2006), pp. 1298–1300.
  47. ^ Conrad Ostwalt, "Presbyterian, Denominational Family." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1342–1344.
  48. ^ Heather Ann Ackley Bean, "Methodists." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1330–1332.
  49. ^ Stanley Burgess, Patrick Alexander, and Gary McGee, "Pentecostals." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1336–1339.
  50. ^ Harvey Neufeldt, "Mennonites." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1327–1329.
  51. ^ Johnstone, Barbara. "Steel Town Speak".  
  52. ^ William Labov, Sharon Ash & Charles Boberg, Atlas of North American English, Mouton de Gruyter, 2005
  53. ^ South Regional Map
  54. ^ Michael Montgomery, Language – Introduction, The Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 999–1004.
  55. ^ a b Alan DeYoung, Introduction to Education section, Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1517–1521.
  56. ^ Philis Alvic, "Settlement, Mission, and Sponsored Schools," Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), p. 1551.
  57. ^ Ted Olson, "Music – Introduction". Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1109—1120.
  58. ^ Grace Toney Edwards, "Literature – Introduction," Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 1035–1039.
  59. ^ a b c d Deborah Thompson and Irene Moser, "Appalachian Folklife." A Handbook to Appalachia: An Introduction to the Region (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 143–156.
  60. ^ Kelley, Saundra Gerrell (2011). Southern Appalachian Storytellers: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition. Jefferson: McFarland Publishing. p.205-7.
  61. ^ Dictionary of American Regional English, Belknap Press, 1985
  62. ^ Joseph M. Flora, Lucinda Hardwick MacKethan, Todd W. Taylor, The Companion to Southern Literature, Louisiana State University Press, 2001, pg. 304.
  63. ^ Appalachian Odyssey, ed. Phillip J. Obermiller et al. (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000).
  64. ^ a b Michael Best and Curtis Wood, Introduction to the Agriculture section in the Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 395–402.
  65. ^ a b c Linda Daily Paulson, "Lumber Industry." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 501–504.
  66. ^ Vic Weals, The Last Train to Elkmont (Knoxville, Tenn.: Olden Press, 1993), pp. 1–8.
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^ a b c Rudy Abramson, "Bituminous Coal Industry." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 457–460.
  70. ^ "U.S. Coal Production by State, Region and Method of Mining – 2007" (PDF). National Mining Association. 
  71. ^ "Profile of the U.S. Coal Miner – 2007" (PDF).  
  72. ^ "U.S. Coal Mine Employment by State, Region and Method of Mining – 2007" (PDF). National Mining Association. 
  73. ^ a b Jack Hurst, Introduction to Business, Technology, and Industry section, Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee, 2006), pp. 441–447.
  74. ^ Janice Willis Barnett, "Aluminum Industry," Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 449–451.
  75. ^ Martha Avaleen Egan, "Chemical Industry," Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee, 2006), pp. 468–471.
  76. ^ Daniel Varat, "Champion Fibre," Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 466–467.
  77. ^ a b c Benita Howell, "Tourism." Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 611–616.
  78. ^ Economic Effects of Tourism in Appalachia. Appalachian Regional Commission Online Resource Center. Retrieved: August 7, 2009.
  79. ^ Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Official site. Retrieved: August 7, 2009.
  80. ^ Blue Ridge Parkway. Official site. Retrieved: August 7, 2009.
  81. ^ Appalachian Regional Commission Tourism Council, Roadmap for Tourism & Craft. July 2003. Retrieved: August 7, 2009.
  82. ^ ARC History
  83. ^ Jackson, David (April 23, 2008). "McCain's economics talk follows LBJ path". USA Today. 
  84. ^ "United States Code Title 40 Subtitle IV – Appalachian Regional Development". Appalachian Regional Commission. Archived from the original on October 5, 2010. Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  85. ^ a b Appalachian Regional Commission
  86. ^ Earl Dotter, "Coalfield Generations: Health, Mining and the Environment" Southern Spaces, July 16, 2008.
  87. ^ "Counties in Appalachia". Appalachian Regional Commission. Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2008. 
  88. ^ Youngstown, Appalachia? – Metro Monthly. (2007-09-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  89. ^ Progress through Partnership: Reflections on ARC's 40th Anniversary
  90. ^ a b Mark Burton and Richard Hatcher, Introduction to Transportation section, Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2006), pp. 685–690.
  91. ^ "Designated Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks". American Society of Civil Engineers. Archived from the original on October 25, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  92. ^ D. Russell Crane; Tim B. Heaton (2008). Handbook of families and poverty. SAGE. p. 111.  
  93. ^ Katherine Ledford (2000). Back Talk from Appalachia: Confronting Stereotypes. U. Press of Kentucky. pp. 9–10.  
  94. ^ John Solomon Otto, "Hillbilly Culture": The Appalachian Mountain Folk in History and Popular Culture," Southern Quarterly, (1986) 24#3 pp 25–34
  95. ^ Edward L. Tucker, "John Fox, Jr., Bon Vivant and Mountain Chronicler," Virginia Cavalcade, (1972) 21#4 pp 18–29
  96. ^ Sharon B. Ewing (2008). Big Stone Gap. Arcadia Publishing. p. 124.  
  97. ^ Ruth A. Banes, "Mythology in Music: The Ballad of Loretta Lynn," Canadian Review of American Studies, (1985) 16#3 pp 283–300
  98. ^ Kimberley M. Holloway (2003). From a race of storytellers: essays on the ballad novels of Sharyn McCrumb. Mercer University Press. p. 175.  
  99. ^ Appalshop website
  100. ^ John O'Brien, At Home in the Heart of Appalachia (2002) p 15
  101. ^ Richard B. Drake (2003). A History of Appalachia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 263.  
  102. ^ Robert Kapilow and John Adams (1999), "Milestones of the Millennium: "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland", NPR's Performance Day ( 
  103. ^ Chris Woodstra; Gerald Brennan; Allen Schrott (2005). All music guide to classical music: the definitive guide to classical music. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 364.  
  104. ^ Ivan March; Edward Greenfield; Robert Layton; Paul Czajkowski (2008). The Penguin guide to recorded music. Penguin. p. 588.  
  105. ^ Emily Satterwhite, Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction Since 1878 (2011) Chapter 4, Part I:
  106. ^ Barbara Kingsolver with Guy Mendes, "Messing with the Sacred: An Interview with Barbara Kingsolver," Appalachian Journal, (2001) 28#3 pp 304–324
  107. ^ M. Thomas Inge, "Al Capp's South: Appalachian Humor in Li'l Abner," Studies in American Humor (2001) 3#8 pp 4–20
  108. ^ Edwin T. Arnold, "Abner Unpinned: Al Capp's 'Li'l Abner,' 1940–1955," Appalachian Journal, (1997) 24#4 pp 420–436
  109. ^ Lois H. Gresh, The Hunger Games Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series (2011) p. 188
  110. ^ Appalachia: A History, John Alexander Williams, The University of North Carolina Press. 2002.
  111. ^ Allan Poe, Edgar (2006). "The Name of the Nation". In Kennedy, Gerald. The Portable Edgar Allan Poe. Penguin Books. p. 600. 


See also

  1. Appalachian Plateau
  2. Allegheny Mountains
  3. Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians
  4. Great Appalachian Valley
  5. Blue Ridge Mountains
  6. Piedmont

The six physiographic provinces that are commonly treated as components of Appalachia are:

Physiographic provinces

In 1839 Washington Irving proposed to rename the United States "Alleghania" or "Appalachia" in place of America, since the name belonged to Latin America too.[110] Edgar Allan Poe later took up the idea, and considered Appalachia a much better name than America or Alleghania; he thought it better defined the United States as a distinct geographical entity, separate from the rest of the Americas, and he also thought it did honor to both Irving and the natives who the Appalachian Mountains had been named after.[111] At the time, however, the United States had already reached far beyond the greater Appalachian region, but the "magnificence" of Appalachia Poe considered enough to rechristen the nation with a name that would be unique to its own character. However, Poe's popular influence only grew decades after his death, and so the name was never seriously considered.

'Appalachia' as the United States

  • The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, and other early 20th-century novels of John Fox, Jr., set in the Appalachian town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and surrounding areas, gave readers an image of frontier life in Appalachia and were made into popular films. Fox himself graduated from Harvard, and was a bon vivant newspaperman in New York City. He returned home to the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee to write his stories because of poor health.[95]
  • Big Stone Gap also is the setting for the early 21st-century Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani.[96]
  • The motion pictures Coal Miner's Daughter (based on the life of noted country singer Loretta Lynn), Where the Lilies Bloom and Songcatcher attempt an accurate portrayal of life in Appalachia which stresses the tensions between Appalachian traditions and the values of urbanized America.[97]
  • Songcatcher takes place in rural Appalachia in 1907 and features the "lost" ballads of the Scots-Irish brought over in the 19th century and a musicologist's quest to preserve them.[98]
  • Stranger with a Camera is a documentary film from Appalshop about the representation of Appalachian communities by outsiders in film and video.[99]
  • The 1972 film Deliverance takes place in southern Appalachia. The film perpetuated extremely negative stereotypes of subhumanity.[100]
  • Large-format photographer Shelby Lee Adams, himself a son of Appalachian emigrants, has portrayed the Appalachian family life sympathetically in several books.[101]
  • Appalachian Spring is the name of a musical composition by Aaron Copland and a ballet of the same name by Martha Graham. Copland did not intend for his music, which he composed for Graham and which incorporates Shaker melodies, to have an Appalachian theme. Graham gave the work its name; her ballet told the story of a young couple living on the frontier in western Pennsylvania.[102]
  • Composer Frederick Delius wrote a theme and variations entitled Appalachia; he first composed Appalachia, subtitled "Variations on an Old Slave Song with final chorus." in 1896.[103]
  • Alan Hovhaness in 1985 composed a tone poem named To the Appalachian Mountains (Symphony no. 60).[104]
  • Author Catherine Marshall wrote Christy, loosely based on her mother's years as a teacher in the Appalachian region. The novel was highly popular and became the basis of a short-lived television series of the same name in 1994.[105]
  • The book Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver explores the ecology of the region and how the removal of the predators, wolves and coyotes, affected the environment.[106]
  • The comic strips often featured Appalachia, especially in "Li'l Abner" by Al Capp (1909–1979). Inge notes that the strip, which ran 1934–77, largely ignored religion, politics, blacks and the Civil War, but instead focused its humor on the morality of Dogpatch, examining its memorable and often eccentric people who typically relied on violence to control the social order, and held deep to their faith in land, home, self-sufficiency, and antipathy to outsiders.[107] Arnold finds that starting with World War II Capp increasingly emphasized sex and violence.[108]
  • The fictional television program, Justified, is set in the eastern hills of Kentucky in and around Harlan County and was filmed in the Pittsburgh area originally.
  • Chelsea Wolfe's album Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs' fourth track is called Appalachia.
  • Much of the popular book series The Hunger Games is set in "an area that used to be called Appalachia" which is referred to in the book as District 12. Much of the surroundings and culture reflect present day Appalachia, such as reliance on coal mining as an industry.[109]

Depictions of Appalachia and its inhabitants in popular media are typically negative, making the region an object of humor, derision, and social concern.[92] Ledford writes, "Always part of the mythical South, Appalachia continues to languish backstage in the American drama, still dressed, in the popular mind at least, in the garments of backwardness, violence, poverty, and hopelessness."[93] Otto argues that comic strips "Li'l Abner" by Al Capp and "Barney Google" by Billy de Beck, which both began in 1934, caricatured the laziness and weakness for "corn squeezin's" (moonshine) of these "hillbillies." The popular 1960s "Andy Griffith Show" on television and James Dickey's 1970 novel Deliverance perpetuate the stereotype, although the region itself underwent so many changes after 1945 that it scarcely resembles the comic images.[94]

"The Moonshine Man of Kentucky," an 1877 illustration from Harper's Weekly

Popular culture

The effort to connect Appalachia with the outside world has required numerous civil engineering feats. Millions of tons of rock were removed to build road segments such as fourth-longest single-arch bridge in the world. The Blue Ridge Parkway's Linn Cove Viaduct, the construction of which required the assembly of 153 pre-cast segments 4,000 feet (1,200 m) up the slopes of Grandfather Mountain,[90] has been designated a historic civil engineering landmark.[91]

Transportation has been the most challenging and expensive issue in Appalachia since the arrival of the first European settlers in the 18th century. With the exception of the October 1, 1940 opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike the region's mountainous terrain continuously thwarted major federal intervention attempts at major road construction until the 1970s. This left large parts of the region virtually isolated and slowing economic growth. Before the Civil War, major cities in the region were connected via wagon roads to lowland areas, and flatboats provided an important means for transporting goods out of the region. By 1900, railroads connected most of the region with the rest of the nation, although the poor roads made travel beyond railroad hubs difficult. When the Appalachian Regional Commission was created in 1965, road construction was considered its most important initiative, and in subsequent decades the commission spent more on road construction than all other projects combined.[90]

The New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia is the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and at 876 feet, the third highest in the United States


The ARC's geographic range of coverage was defined broadly so as to cover as many economically underdeveloped areas as possible; it extends well beyond the area usually thought of as "Appalachia". For instance, parts of Alabama and Mississippi were included in the commission because of problems with unemployment and poverty similar to those in Appalachia proper, and the ARC region extends into Northeastern states, which are never considered part of Appalachia culturally. More recently, the Youngstown, Ohio, region was declared part of Appalachia by the ARC due to the collapse of the steel industry in the region in the early 1980s and the continuing unemployment problems in the region since, though aside from Columbiana County, Ohio, the Youngstown DMA isn't traditionally or culturally considered part of the region.[88] The ARC's wide scope also grew out of the "pork barrel" phenomenon, as politicians from outside the traditional Appalachia area saw a new way to bring home federal money to their areas. However former Ohio governor Bob Taft has stated that "What is good for Appalachia is good for all of Ohio."[89]

The cities in Virginia, where state law makes cities administratively separate from counties. The ARC is a planning, research, advocacy and funding organization; it does not have any governing powers.

Appalachian Regional Commission

The region's poverty has been documented often since the early 1960s. John Cohen documents rural lifestyle and culture in The High Lonesome Sound, while photojournalist Earl Dotter has been visiting and documenting poverty, healthcare and mining in Appalachia for nearly forty years.[86] Another photojournalist, Shelby Lee Adams, has been photographing Appalachian families and lifestyle for decades.

I'm here to make a simple point. This is the time to bring more jobs and investment to parts of the country that have not participated in this time of prosperity. Any work that can be done by anybody in America can be done in Appalachia.[85]

Like Johnson, President Bill Clinton brought attention to the remaining areas of poverty in Appalachia. On July 5, 1999, he made a public statement concerning the situation in Tyner, Kentucky. Clinton told the enthusiastic crowd:

Since the creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in 1965, the region has seen dramatic progress. New roads, schools, health care facilities, water and sewer systems, and other improvements have brought a better life to many Appalachian residents. In the 1960s, 219 counties in the 13-state Appalachian Region were considered economically distressed. Now that list has been cut in half, to 82 counties, but these are "hard-core" pockets of poverty, seemingly impervious to all efforts at improving their lot.[85] Martin County, Kentucky, the site of Johnson's 1964 speech, is one such county still ranked as "distressed" by the ARC. As of 2000, the per capita income in Martin County was $10,650, and 37% of its residents lived below the poverty line.

The Appalachian region of the United States, while abundant in natural resources and rich in potential, lags behind the rest of the Nation... its people have not shared properly in the Nation's prosperity.[84]

In Appalachia, severe poverty and desolation were paired with the necessity for careful cultural sensitivity. Many Appalachian people feared that the birth of a new modernized Appalachia would lead to a death of their traditional values and heritage. Because of the isolation of the region, Appalachian people had been unable to catch up to the modernization that lowlanders have achieved. In the 1960s, many people in Appalachia had a standard of living comparable to third world countries'. The film series "West Virginia", produced during the term of Governor Gaston Caperton, makes the point that at least on some level images of poverty were contrived. Lyndon B. Johnson declared a "War on Poverty" while standing on the front porch of an Inez, Kentucky home whose residents had been suffering from a long ignored problem.[83] The Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 stated:

Poverty had plagued Appalachia for many years but was not brought to the attention of the rest of the United States until 1940, when James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book that documented families in Appalachia during the Great Depression in words and photos. In 1963, US President John F. Kennedy, established the President's Appalachian Regional Commission. His successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, crystallized Kennedy's efforts in the form of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which passed into law in 1965.[82]

A 1930s-era TVA photograph showing a young girl in front of her family's house in the lower Clinch River valley in East Tennessee

Poverty in Appalachia

The mineral-rich mountain springs of the Appalachians—which for many years were thought to have health-restoring qualities—were drawing visitors to the region as early as the 18th century with the establishment of resorts at Hot Springs, Virginia and what is now Hot Springs, North Carolina. Along with the mineral springs, the cool and clear air of the range's high elevations provided an escape for lowland elites, and elaborate hotels—such as The Greenbrier in West Virginia and the Balsam Mountain Inn in North Carolina—were built throughout the region's remote valleys and mountain slopes. The end of World War I (which opened up travel opportunities to Europe) and the arrival of the automobile (which changed the nation's vacation habits) led to the demise of all but a few of the region's spa resorts. The establishment of national parks in the 1930s brought an explosion of tourist traffic to the region, but created problems with urban sprawl in the various host communities. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, states have placed greater focus on sustaining tourism while preserving host communities.[77]

One of the region's oldest industries, tourism became a more important part of the Appalachian economy in the latter half of the 20th century as mining and manufacturing steadily declined.[77] In 2000–2001, tourism in Appalachia accounted for nearly $30 billion and over 600,000 jobs.[78] The mountain terrain—with its accompanying scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities—provide the region's primary attractions.[77] The region is home to one of the world's most well-known hiking trails (the Appalachian Trail), the nation's most-visited national park (the Great Smoky Mountains National Park),[79] and the nation's most visited national parkway (the Blue Ridge Parkway).[80] The craft industry, including the teaching, selling, and display or demonstration of regional crafts, also accounts for an important part of the Appalachian economy, bringing (for example) over $100 million annually to the economy of Western North Carolina and over $80 million to the economy of West Virginia.[81] Important heritage tourism attractions in the region include the Biltmore Estate and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina, Cades Cove in Tennessee, and Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. Important theme parks include Dollywood and Ghost Town in the Sky, both on the periphery of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Homestead, a resort hotel in Bath County, Virginia, photographed in 1903


U.S. Steel, founded in Pittsburgh in 1901, was the world's first corporation with more than a billion dollars in initial capitalization.[73] Another Pittsburgh company, ALCOA, helped establish the nation's aluminum industry in the early 20th century, and has had a significant impact on the economies of western Pennsylvania and east Tennessee.[74] Union Carbide built the world's first petrochemical plant in Clendenin, West Virginia in 1920, and in subsequent years the Kanawha Valley became known as the "Chemical Capital of the World."[75] Eastman Chemical, also established in 1920, is Tennessee's largest single employer. Companies such as Champion Fibre and Bowater established large pulp operations in Canton, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina, respectively, although the former was dogged by battles with environmentalists throughout the 20th century.[76]

The manufacturing industry in Appalachia is rooted primarily in the ironworks and steelworks of early Pittsburgh and in the textile mills that sprang up in North Carolina's Piedmont region in the mid-19th century. Factory construction increased greatly after the Civil War, and the region experienced a manufacturing boom between 1890 and 1930. This economic shift led to a mass-migration from small farms and rural areas to large urban centers, causing the populations of cities such as Knoxville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina to swell exponentially. Manufacturing in the region suffered a setback during the Great Depression, but recovered during World War II and peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. However, difficulties paying retiree benefits, environmental struggles, and the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 led to a decline in the region's manufacturing operations. Pittsburgh lost 44% of its factory jobs in the 1980s, and between 1970 and 2001, the number of apparel workers in the Appalachian region decreased from 250,000 to 83,000 and the number of textile workers decreased from 275,000 to 193,000.[73]

Storage tanks at the Institute plant along the Kanawha River in West Virginia, photographed late 1930s/early 1940s


Coal mining has made a comeback in some regions in the early 21st century because of the increased prominence of CONSOL Energy, based in Pittsburgh. The Quecreek Mine Rescue in 2002 and continuing mine subsidence problems in abandoned coal mines in western Pennsylvania as well as the Sago Mine disaster and Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia and other regions have also been highlighted in recent times.

In the late 19th century, the post-Civil War Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the nation's railroads brought a soaring demand for coal, and mining operations expanded rapidly across Appalachia. Hundreds of thousands of workers poured into the region from across the United States and from overseas, essentially overhauling the cultural makeup of Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania. Mining corporations gained considerable influence in state and municipal governments, especially as they often owned the entire towns in which the miners lived. The mining industry was vulnerable to economic downturns, however, and booms and busts were frequent, with major booms occurring during World War I and II, and the worst bust occurring during the Great Depression. The Appalachian mining industry also saw some of the nation's bloodiest labor strife between the 1890s and the 1930s. Mining-related injuries and deaths were not uncommon, and ailments such as black lung disease afflicted miners throughout the 20th century. After World War II, innovations in mechanization (such as longwall mining) and competition from oil and natural gas led to a decline in the region's mining operations.[69] Environmental restrictions, such as those placed on high-sulfur coal in the 1980s, brought further mine closures. While with annual earnings of $55,000, Appalachian miners make more than most other local workers, Appalachian coal mining employed just under 50,000 in 2004.[71][72]

Coal mining is the industry most frequently associated with Appalachia in outsiders' minds,[67][68] due in part to the fact that the region once produced two-thirds of the nation's coal. At present, however, the mining industry employs just 2% of the Appalachian workforce. The region's vast coalfield covers 63,000 square miles (160,000 km2) between northern Pennsylvania and central Alabama, mostly along the Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Plateau regions. Most mining activity has been concentrated in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, with smaller operations in western Maryland, Tennessee and Alabama. The Pittsburgh coal seam, which has produced 13 billion tons of coal since the early 19th century, has been called the world's most valuable mineral deposit. There are over 60 major coal seams in West Virginia, and over 80 in eastern Kentucky. Most of the coal mined is bituminous coal, although significant anthracite deposits exist on the fringe of the region in central Pennsylvania.[69] About two-thirds of Appalachia's coal is produced by underground mining, the rest by surface mining.[70] Mountaintop removal, a form of surface mining, is a highly controversial mining practice in central Appalachia due to its negative impacts on the environment.[69]

Coal company houses in Jenkins, Kentucky, photographed by Ben Shahn in 1935

Coal mining

[65] Logging in Appalachia reached its peak in the early 20th-century, when firms such as the Ritter Lumber Company cut the virgin forests on an alarming scale, leading to the creation of

The mountains and valleys of Appalachia once contained what seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of timber. The poor roads, lack of railroads, and general inaccessibility of the region, however, prevented large-scale logging in most of the region throughout much of the 19th century. While logging firms were established in the Carolinas and the Kentucky River valley before the Civil War, most major firms preferred to harvest the more accessible timber stands in the Midwestern and Northeastern parts of the country. By the 1880s, these stands had been exhausted, and a spike in the demand for lumber forced logging firms to seek out the virgin forests of Appalachia.[65] The first major logging ventures in Appalachia transported logs using mule teams or rivers, the latter method sometimes employing splash dams.[66] In the 1890s, innovations such as the Shay locomotive, the steam-powered loader, and the steam-powered skidder allowed massive harvesting of the most remote forest sections.[65]

Sawmill and millpond in Erwin, West Virginia, photographed by Marion Post Wolcott in 1938


Early Appalachian farmers grew both crops introduced from their native Europe as well as crops native to North America (such as corn and squash). Tobacco has long been an important cash crop in Southern Appalachia, especially since the land is ill-suited for cash crops such as cotton. Apples have been grown in the region since the late 18th-century, their cultivation being aided by the presence of thermal belts in the region's mountain valleys. Hogs, which could free range in the region's abundant forests, often on chestnuts, were the most popular livestock among early Appalachian farmers. The American chestnut also was an important human food source until the chestnut blight struck in the 20th century. The early settlers also brought cattle and sheep to the region, which they would typically graze in highland meadows known as balds during the growing season when bottomlands were needed for crops. Cattle, mainly the Hereford, Angus, and Charolais breeds, are now the region's chief livestock.[64]

While the climate of the Appalachian region is suitable for agriculture, the region's hilly terrain greatly limits the size of the average farm, a problem exacerbated by population growth in the latter half of the 19th century. Subsistence farming was the backbone of the Appalachian economy throughout much of the 19th century, and while economies in places such as western Pennsylvania, the Great Valley of Virginia, and the upper Tennessee Valley in east Tennessee, transitioned to a large-scale farming or manufacturing base around the time of the Civil War, subsistence farming remained an important part of the region's economy until the 1950s. In the early 20th century, Appalachian farmers were struggling to mechanize, and abusive farming practices had over the years left much of the already-limited farmland badly eroded. Various federal entities intervened in the 1930s to restore damaged areas and introduce less-harmful farming techniques. In recent decades, the concept of sustainable agriculture has been applied to the region's small farms, with some success. Nevertheless, the number of farms in the Appalachian region continues to dwindle, plunging from 354,748 farms on 47 million acres (190,000 km2) in 1969 to 230,050 farms on 35 million acres (140,000 km2) in 1997.[64]

A highland pasture near Maggie Valley, North Carolina


The economy of Appalachia traditionally rested on agriculture, mining, timber, and in the cities, manufacturing. Since the late 20th century, tourism and second home developments have assumed an increasingly major role.


Appalachia as an academic interest was the product of a critical scholarship that emerged across the disciplines in the 1960s and 1970s. With a renewed interest in issues of power, scholars could not dismiss the social inequity, class conflict, and environmental destruction encountered by America's so-called "hillbillies." Appalachia's emergence in academia is a result of the intersection between social conditions and critical academic interests, and has resulted in the development of many Appalachian studies programs in colleges and universities across the region, as well as in the Appalachian Studies Association.

Appalachian studies

In the southern part of the region WSB-AM Atlanta and WSM-AM Nashville, flagship of the Grand Ole Opry, were major stations for the region's population during the 20th century, and remain strong in the sub-region.

In the 1940s through the 1960s, Wheeling, West Virginia became a cultural center of the region because it had a clear-channel AM radio station, WWVA, which could be heard throughout the entirety of eastern USA at night. Although Pittsburgh's KDKA was a 50 kilowatt clear channel station that dated back to the early 1920s (as well as spanning all the east coast in signal strength), WWVA prided itself on rural and farm programming that appealed to a wider audience in the rural region. Cincinnati's WLW also was relied on by many in the central and northern areas of Appalachia.


Urban Appalachians are people from Appalachia who are living in metropolitan areas outside the Appalachian region. In the decades following the Great Depression and World War II, many Appalachian residents moved to industrial cities in the north and west in a migration that became known as the "Hillbilly Highway". Mechanization of coal mining during the 1950s and 1960s was the major source of unemployment in central Appalachia. Many migration streams covered relatively short distances, with West Virginians moving to Cleveland and other cities in eastern and central Ohio, and eastern Kentuckians moving to Cincinnati and southwest Ohio in search of jobs. More distant cities like Detroit and Chicago attracted migrants from many states. Enclaves of Appalachian culture can still be found in some of these communities.[63]

Urban Appalachians

Since the 1960s the Point Pleasant, West Virginia legend of Mothman has originated and been explored in popular culture including the 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies loosely retelling the original tale.

Appalachian folk tales are rooted in English, Scottish, and Irish fairy tales, as well as regional heroic figures and events. Jack tales, which tend to revolve around the exploits of a simple-but-dedicated figure named "Jack," are popular at story-telling festivals. Other stories involve wild animals, such as hunting tales. In the industrial areas of Western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia the composite Joe Magarac steelworker story has been handed down. Regional folk heroes such as the railroad worker John Henry and frontiersmen Davy Crockett, Mike Fink and Johnny Appleseed are examples of real-life figures that evolved into popular folk tale subjects. Murder stories, such as Omie Wise and John Hardy, are popular subjects for Appalachian ballads. Ghost stories, or "haint tales" in regional English,[61] are a common feature of southern oral and literary tradition.[62] Ghost stories native to the region include the story of the Greenbrier Ghost, which is rooted in a Greenbrier County, West Virginia murder.[59]

Cherokee folklore continues to influence storytelling in the Appalachians, including depictions and characteristics of regional animals. As told by Eastern Band Cherokee and Western North Carolina storyteller Jerry Wolfe, these creatures include the chipmunk, also known as "seven stripes" from an angry bear scratching him down the back—four claw marks and the spaces in between making seven—and the copperhead who sneaks and thieves his way into becoming poisonous.[60]

Appalachian folklore has a strong mixture of European, Native American (especially Cherokee), and Biblical influences. The Cherokee taught the region's early European pioneers how to plant and cultivate crops such as corn and squash and how to find edible plants such as ramps.[59] The Cherokee also passed along their knowledge of the medicinal properties of hundreds of native herbs and roots, and how to prepare tonics from such plants.[59] Before the introduction of modern agricultural techniques in the region in the 1930s and 1940s, many Appalachian farmers followed the Biblical tradition of planting by "the signs," such as the phases of the moon, or when certain weather conditions occurred.[59]

Statue of legendary railroad worker John Henry in Talcott, Summers County, West Virginia


Appalachian literature crosses with the larger genre of Southern literature. Internationally renowned writers such as William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy have made notable contributions to the American canon with tales set within Appalachia. McCarthy's Suttree (1979) is an intense vision of the squalidness and brutality of life along the Tennessee River, in the heart of Appalachia. Other McCarthy novels set in Appalachia include The Orchard Keeper (1968) and Child of God (1973). Appalachia also serves as the origin point for the kid, the protagonist of McCarthy's Western masterpiece, Blood Meridian. Faulkner's hometown of Oxford, Mississippi is on the borderlands of what is considered Appalachia, but his fictional Yoknapatawpha should be considered part of the region. Almost all of the fiction which earned him the Nobel Prize is set there, including Light in August and Absalom, Absalom.

Along with the above-mentioned, some of Appalachia's best known writers include Gurney Norman (Divine Right's Trip, Kinfolks), Ron Rash (Serena), Elizabeth Madox Roberts ("The Great Meadow, "The Time of Man"), Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward Angel, You Can't Go Home Again), Rachel Carson (The Sea Around Us, Silent Spring; Presidential Medal of Freedom), and Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle).

Early Appalachian literature typically centered on the observations of people from outside the region, such as Mary Noailles Murfree. Works such as Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills (1861), Emma Bell Miles' The Spirit of the Mountains (1905), and Horace Kephart's Our Southern Highlanders (1913) marked a shift in the region's literature from local color to realism. The transition from an agrarian society to an industrial society and its effects on Appalachia are captured in works such as Olive Tilford Dargan's Call Home to the Heart (1932), James Still's The River of Earth (1940), Harriette Simpson Arnow's The Dollmaker (1954), and Harry Caudill's Night Comes to the Cumberlands (1962). In the 1970s and 1980s, the rise of authors like Breece D'J Pancake, Dorothy Allison, and Lisa Alther brought greater literary diversity to the region.[58]


In the years following World War I, British folklorist Cecil Sharp brought attention to Southern Appalachia when he noted that its inhabitants still sang hundreds of English and Scottish ballads that had been passed down to them from their ancestors. Commercial recordings of Appalachian musicians in the 1920s would have a significant impact on the development of country music, bluegrass, and old-time music. Appalachian music saw a resurgence in popularity during the American folk music revival of the 1960s, when musicologists such as Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Ralph Rinzler traveled to remote parts of the region in search of musicians unaffected by modern music. Today, dozens of annual music festivals held throughout the region preserve the Appalachian music tradition.[57]

Appalachian music is one of the best-known manifestations of Appalachian culture. Traditional Appalachian music is derived primarily from the English and Scottish ballad tradition and Irish and Scottish fiddle music. African-American blues musicians played a significant role in developing the instrumental aspects of Appalachian music, most notably with the introduction of the five-stringed banjo— one of the region's iconic symbols— in the late 18th century. Another instrument known in Appalachian culture was the Appalachian dulcimer which, in a practical way, is a guitar shaped instrument laid on its side with a flat bottom and the strings are plucked in a manner to make alternating notes.


In the 20th-century, national trends began to have more of an effect on education in Appalachia, sometimes clashing with the region's traditional values. The Scopes Trial—the nation's most publicized debate over the teaching of the theory of evolution—took place in Dayton, Tennessee in southern Appalachia in 1925. In spite of consolidation and centralization, schools in Appalachia struggled to keep up with federal and state demands into the 21st century. Since 2001, a number of the region's public schools were threatened with loss of funding due to difficulties fulfilling the demands of No Child Left Behind.[55]

For much of the region's history, education in Appalachia has lagged behind the rest of the nation due in part to struggles with funding from respective state governments and an agrarian-oriented population that often failed to see a practical need for formal education. Early education in the region evolved from teaching Christian morality and learning to read the Bible into small, one-room schoolhouses that convened in months when children were not needed to help with farm work. After the Civil War, mandatory education laws and state assistance helped larger communities begin to establish graded schools and high schools. During the same period, many of the region's institutions of higher education were established or greatly expanded.[55] In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, service organizations such as settlement schools and mission schools in the region's more rural areas.[56]


The Appalachian dialect is a dialect of Midland American English known as the Southern Midland dialect, and is spoken primarily in central and southern Appalachia. The Northern Midland dialect is spoken in the northern parts of the region, while Pittsburgh English (more commonly known as "Pittsburghese") is strongly influenced by Appalachian dialect.[51] The Southern Appalachian dialect is considered part of the Southern American dialect,[52][53] although the two are distinguished by the rhotic nature of the Appalachian dialect. Early 20th-century writers believed the Appalachian dialect to be a surviving relic of Old World Scottish or Elizabethan dialects. Recent research suggests, however, that while the dialect has a stronger Scottish influence than other American dialects, most of its distinguishing characteristics are American in origin.[54]


Protestantism is the most dominant denomination in Appalachia, although there is a significant Cumberland Presbyterian Church.[47] English Baptists—most of whom had been influenced by the Separate Baptist and Regular Baptist movements—were also common on the Appalachian frontier, and today are represented in the region by groups such as the Free Will Baptists, the Southern Baptists, Missionary Baptists, and "old-time" groups such as the United Baptists and Primitive Baptists.[46] Circuit riders such as Francis Asbury helped spread Methodism to Appalachia in the early 19th century, and today 9.2% of the region's population is Methodist, represented by such bodies as the United Methodist Church, the Free Methodist Church, and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.[48] Pentecostal movements within the region include the Church of God (based in Cleveland, Tennessee) and the Assemblies of God.[49] Scattered Mennonite colonies exist throughout the region.[50]


Baptism in Morehead, Kentucky, photographed by Marion Post Wolcott in 1940


Germans were a major pioneer group to migrate to Appalachia, settling mainly in western Pennsylvania and Southwest Virginia. Smaller numbers of Germans were also among the initial wave of migrants to the southern mountains.[16] In the 19th century, Welsh immigrants were brought into the region for their mining and metallurgical expertise, and by 1900 over 100,000 Welsh immigrants were living in western Pennsylvania alone.[41] Thousands of German-speaking Swiss migrated to Appalachia in the second half of the 19th century, and their descendants remain in places such as East Bernstadt, Kentucky, and Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee.[42] The coal mining and manufacturing boom in the late-19th and early-20th centuries brought large numbers of Italians and Eastern Europeans to Appalachia, although most of these families left the region when the Great Depression shattered the economy in the 1930s. African-Americans have been present in the region since the 18th century, and currently make up 8% of the ARC-designated region, mostly concentrated in urban areas and former mining and manufacturing towns.[43] Native Americans, the region's original inhabitants, are only a small percentage of the region's present population, their most notable concentration being the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. The Melungeons, a group of mixed African, European, and Native American ancestry, are scattered across northeastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, and southwestern Virginia.[44]

An estimated 90%[38] of Appalachia's earliest European settlers originated from the Anglo-Scottish border country— namely the English counties of Cumberland, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and the Lowland Scottish counties of Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire, Berwickshire, and Wigtownshire. Most of these were from families who had been resettled in the Ulster Plantation in northern Ireland in the 17th century,[39] but some came directly from the Anglo-Scottish border region.[40] In America, these people are often grouped under the single name "Scotch-Irish" or "Scots-Irish". While various 20th-century writers tried to associate Appalachia with Scottish highlanders, Highland Scots were a relatively insignificant percentage of the region's early European immigrants.[40]

Ethnic groups


By the 1950s, poor farming techniques and the loss of jobs to mechanization in the mining industry had left much of central and southern Appalachia poverty-stricken. The lack of jobs also led to widespread difficulties with outmigration. Beginning in the 1930s, federal agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority began investing in the Appalachian region.[36] Sociologists such as James Brown and Cratis Williams and authors such as Harry Caudill and Michael Harrington brought attention to the region's plight in the 1960s, prompting Congress to create the Appalachian Regional Commission in 1965. The commission's efforts helped to stem the tide of outmigration and diversify the region's economies.[35] Although there have been drastic improvements in the region's economic conditions since the commission's founding, the ARC still listed 82 counties as "distressed" in 2010, with nearly half of them (40) in Kentucky.[37]

Logging firms' rapid devastation of the forests of southern Appalachia sparked a movement among conservationists to preserve what remained and allow the land to "heal". In 1911, Congress passed the Weeks Act, giving the federal government authority to create national forests and control timber harvesting. Regional writers and business interests led a movement to create national parks in the eastern United States similar to Yosemite and Yellowstone in the west, culminating in the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee and the Blue Ridge Parkway (connecting the two) in the 1930s.[35] During the same period, New England forester Benton MacKaye led the movement to build the 2,175-mile (3,500 km) Appalachian Trail, stretching from Georgia to Maine.

Modern Appalachia

Appalachia, and especially Kentucky, became nationally known for its violent feuds, especially in the remote mountain districts. They pitted the men in extended clans against each other for decades, often using assassination and arson as weapons, along with ambushes, gunfights, and pre-arranged shootouts. The infamous Hatfield-McCoy Feud of the 19th century was the best known of these family feuds. Some of the feuds were continuations of violent local Civil War episodes.[33] Journalists often wrote about the violence, using stereotypes that "city folks" had developed about Appalachia; they interpreted the feuds as the natural products of profound ignorance, poverty, and isolation, and perhaps even inbreeding. In reality, the leading participants were typically well-to-do local elites with networks of clients who were fighting for local political power.[34]


Today, residents of Appalachia are viewed by many Americans as uneducated and unrefined, resulting in culture-based stereotyping and discrimination in many areas, including employment and housing. Such discrimination has prompted some to seek redress under prevailing federal and state civil rights laws.[32]

The late 19th and early 20th centuries also saw the development of various regional stereotypes. Attempts by President Rutherford B. Hayes to enforce the whiskey tax in the late 1870s led to an explosion in violence between Appalachian "moonshiners" and federal "revenuers" that lasted through the Prohibition period in the 1920s.[31] The breakdown of authority and law enforcement during the Civil War may have contributed to an increase in clan feuding, which by the 1880s was reported to be a problem across most of Kentucky's Cumberland region as well as Carter County in Tennessee, Carroll County in Virginia, and Mingo and Logan counties in West Virginia.[28][31] Regional writers from this period such as Mary Noailles Murfree and Horace Kephart liked to focus on such sensational aspects of mountain culture, leading readers outside the region to believe they were more widespread than in reality. In an 1899 article in The Atlantic, Berea College president William G. Frost attempted to redefine the inhabitants of Appalachia as "noble mountaineers"—relics of the nation's pioneer period whose isolation had left them unaffected by modern times.[28]


After the war, northern parts of Appalachia experienced an economic boom, while economies in the southern parts of the region stagnated, especially as Southern Democrats regained control of their respective state legislatures at the end of Atlanta and Birmingham at the edge of the Appalachian region. Railroad construction between the 1880s and early 20th century gave the greater nation access to the vast coalfields in central Appalachia, making the economy in that part of the region practically synonymous with coal mining. As the nationwide demand for lumber skyrocketed, lumber firms turned to the virgin forests of southern Appalachia, using sawmill and logging railroad innovations to reach remote timber stands. The Tri-Cities area of Tennessee and Virginia and the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia became major petrochemical production centers.[30]

Entrance to mine shaft in West Virginia, photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in 1908

Economic boom

Late 19th and early 20th-centuries

[29][28] The actions of both Union and Confederate armies left many inhabitants in the region resentful of government authority and suspicious of outsiders for decades after the war.[23] Both central and southern Appalachia suffered tremendous violence and turmoil during the

This caused great difficulty for the new Unionist state government in Wheeling, both during and after the war.[26] A similar effort occurred in East Tennessee, but the initiative failed after Tennessee's governor ordered the Confederate army to occupy the region, forcing East Tennessee's Unionists to flee to the north or go into hiding.[24] The one exception was the so-called Free and Independent State of Scott.[27]

Map of the county secession votes of 1860-1861 in Appalachia within the ARC definition. Virginia and Tennessee show the public votes, while the other states show the vote by county delegates to the conventions.

By 1860, the Whig Party had disintegrated. Sentiments in northern Appalachia had shifted to the pro-[24] Kentucky sought to remain neutral at the outset of the conflict, opting not to supply troops to either side. After Virginia voted to secede, several mountain counties in northwestern Virginia rejected the ordinance and with the help of the Union army established a separate state, admitted to the Union as West Virginia in 1863. However, half the counties included in the new state, comprising two-thirds of its territory, were secessionist and pro-Confederate.[25]

The U.S. Civil War

[22] In 1841, Tennessee state senator (and later U.S. president) [21] Tensions between the mountain counties and state governments sometimes reached the point of mountain counties threatening to break off and form separate states. In 1832, bickering between western Virginia and eastern Virginia over the state's constitution led to calls on both sides for the state's separation into two states.

In the early 19th century, the rift between the yeoman farmers of Appalachia and their wealthier lowland counterparts continued to grow, especially as the latter dominated most state legislatures. People in Appalachia began to feel slighted over what they considered unfair taxation methods and lack of state funding for improvements (especially for roads). In the northern half of the region, the lowland "elites" consisted largely of industrial and business interests, whereas in the parts of the region south of the Mason–Dixon Line, the lowland elites consisted of large-scale land-owning planters.[18] The Whig Party, formed in the 1830s, drew widespread support from disaffected Appalachians.

Early 19th century

As early as the 18th century, Appalachia (then known simply as the "backcountry") began to distinguish itself from its wealthier lowland and coastal neighbors to the east. Frontiersmen often bickered with lowland and tidewater "elites" over taxes, sometimes to the point of armed revolts such as the Illinois campaign. Two years later, a group of Appalachian frontiersmen known as the Overmountain Men routed British forces at the Battle of Kings Mountain after rejecting a call by the British to disarm.[19] After the war, residents throughout the Appalachian backcountry — especially the Monongahela region in western Pennsylvania, and antebellum northwestern Virginia (now the north-central part of West Virginia) — refused to pay a tax placed on whiskey by the new American government, leading to what became known as the Whiskey Rebellion.[20] The resulting tighter Federal controls in the Monongahela valley resulted in many whiskey/bourbon makers migrating via the Ohio River to Kentucky and Tennessee where the industry could flourish.

Appalachian frontiersmen have long been romanticized for their ruggedness and self-sufficiency. A typical depiction of an Appalachian pioneer involves a hunter wearing a coonskin cap and buckskin clothing, and sporting a long rifle and shoulder-strapped powder horn. Perhaps no single figure symbolizes the Appalachian pioneer more than Daniel Boone (1734–1820), a long hunter and surveyor instrumental in the early settlement of Kentucky and Tennessee. Like Boone, Appalachian pioneers moved into areas largely separated from "civilization" by high mountain ridges, and had to fend for themselves against the elements. As many of these early settlers were living on Native American lands, attacks from Native American tribes were a continuous threat until the 19th century.[17]

The Earnest Fort-house in Greene County, Tennessee. Built around 1782 during the Cherokee–American wars, it is located just south of Chuckey on the banks of the Nolichucky River

The Appalachian frontier

European migration into Appalachia began in the 18th century. As lands in eastern Pennsylvania and the north Alabama, the Tennessee Valley, the Cumberland Plateau regions, and the Great Smoky Mountains along what is now the Tennessee-North Carolina border.[16] The last of these treaties culminated in the removal of the bulk of the Cherokee population (as well as Choctaw, Chickasaw and others) from the region via the Trail of Tears from 1831 until 1838.

Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52)

. Celeron de Bienville valley and upper Ohio valley after exploration by Allegheny River controlling the access points of the Fort Le Boeuf and Fort Duquesne also made inroads into the northern areas of the region in modern-day New York state and Pennsylvania. By the mid 18th century the French had outposts such as Quebec based in modern-day French. The Cherokee) and the southern part of the region was controlled by the Shawnee tribes (namely the Algonquian By the time English explorers arrived in Appalachia in the late 17th century, the central part of the region was controlled by [15] Native American hunter-gatherers first arrived in what is now Appalachia over 16,000 years ago. The earliest discovered site is the

Early history


[7] This pronunciation is favored in the "core" region in central and southern parts of the Appalachian range. The occasional use of the "sh" sound for the "ch" in the last syllable in northern dialects was popularized by [14][13], both with a third syllable like the "la" in "latch"./ˈæpəˈlætʃ(i)ə/, and the cultural region of Appalachia is pronounced , all with a third syllable like "lay". In southern U.S. dialects, the mountains are called the /æpəˈleɪtʃ(i)ə/, also /æpəˈleɪʃ(i)ə/. The cultural region of Appalachia is pronounced or In northern U.S. dialects, the mountains are pronounced

The name was not commonly used for the whole mountain range until the late 19th century. A competing and often more popular name was the "Allegheny Mountains", "Alleghenies", and even "Alleghania." In the early 19th century, Washington Irving proposed renaming the United States either Appalachia or Alleghania.[12]

[11] Le Moyne was also the first European to apply "Apalachen" specifically to a mountain range as opposed to a village, native tribe, or a southeastern region of North America.[10] While exploring inland along the northern coast of Florida in 1528, the members of the

Detail of Gutierrez' 1562 map showing the first known cartographic appearance of a variant of the name "Appalachia"

Etymology and pronunciation

[8] The first major attempt to map Appalachia as a distinctive cultural region came in the 1890s with the efforts of

Since Appalachia lacks definite physiographical or topographical boundaries, there has been some disagreement over what exactly the region encompasses. The most commonly used modern definition of Appalachia is the one initially defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission in 1965 and expanded over subsequent decades.[3] The region defined by the Commission currently includes 420 counties and eight Alabama, and 24 in Mississippi.[1] When the Commission was established, counties were added based on economic need, however, rather than any cultural parameters.[3]

William G. Frost

Defining the Appalachian region


  • Defining the Appalachian region 1
    • Etymology and pronunciation 1.1
  • History 2
    • Early history 2.1
    • The Appalachian frontier 2.2
    • Early 19th century 2.3
    • The U.S. Civil War 2.4
    • Late 19th and early 20th-centuries 2.5
      • Economic boom 2.5.1
      • Stereotypes 2.5.2
      • Feuds 2.5.3
    • Modern Appalachia 2.6
  • Culture 3
    • Ethnic groups 3.1
    • Religion 3.2
    • Dialect 3.3
    • Education 3.4
    • Music 3.5
    • Literature 3.6
    • Folklore 3.7
    • Urban Appalachians 3.8
    • Communications 3.9
    • Appalachian studies 3.10
  • Economy 4
    • Agriculture 4.1
    • Logging 4.2
    • Coal mining 4.3
    • Manufacturing 4.4
    • Tourism 4.5
    • Poverty in Appalachia 4.6
    • Appalachian Regional Commission 4.7
    • Transportation 4.8
  • Popular culture 5
    • 'Appalachia' as the United States 5.1
  • Physiographic provinces 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References and bibliography 9
  • External links 10

While endowed with abundant natural resources, Appalachia has long struggled and been associated with poverty. In the early 20th century, large-scale logging and coal mining firms brought wage-paying jobs and modern amenities to Appalachia, but by the 1960s the region had failed to capitalize on any long-term benefits[4] from these two industries. Beginning in the 1930s, the federal government sought to alleviate poverty in the Appalachian region with a series of New Deal initiatives, such as the construction of dams to provide cheap electricity and the implementation of better farming practices. On March 9, 1965, the Appalachian Regional Commission[5] was created to further alleviate poverty in the region, mainly by diversifying the region's economy and helping to provide better health care and educational opportunities to the region's inhabitants. By 1990, Appalachia had largely joined the economic mainstream, but still lagged behind the rest of the nation in most economic indicators.[3]

Since its recognition as a distinctive region in the late 19th century, Appalachia has been a source of enduring myths and distortions regarding the isolation, temperament, and behavior of its inhabitants. Early 20th-century writers often engaged in yellow journalism focused on sensationalistic aspects of the region's culture, such as moonshining and clan feuding, and often portrayed the region's inhabitants as uneducated and prone to impulsive acts of violence. Sociological studies in the 1960s and 1970s helped to re-examine and dispel these stereotypes.[3]

[2].Asheville, North Carolina; and Birmingham, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the region was home to approximately 25 million people, containing the major cities of 2010 census in Alabama, the cultural region of Appalachia typically refers only to the central and southern portions of the range. As of the Cheaha Mountain in Canada to Belle Isle stretch from Appalachian Mountains While the [1]

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