Change Threatens to Sever Appalachians from Land... Again

Mar 27, 2015
Originally published on March 28, 2015 9:40 pm

In this episode: Appalachians who love their land and their mountain homes. But history reveals some unsettling stories about some Appalachians who were forced off their land in the 1930s to make room for the Shenandoah National Park. 

What happened to them, and what will happen to Appalachians today who are struggling to keep their land from being included in new pipeline projects and drilling activity?

And our episode ends with a true story about two West Virginia newspapermen, a mountain lion, and a hoax that got very much out of town.

These stories and more are in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

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Evicted from the Mountains

When Shenandoah National Park was built, hundreds of families were forced off their land. New information has emerged suggesting that some of those displaced people were sent to state colonies and sterilized. For With Good Reason, Sarah McConnell has this story.

W.Va. Maple Syrup Farmer Hopeful, Despite Pipeline and Weather Challenges

Bitter cold temperatures limited the amount of maple syrup farmer Don Olson was able to make this year. And now, Dominion Energy has plans for a new pipeline that would transport natural gas 550 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina. That pipeline might run right through Olson’s Maple Syrup farm. As our producer, Roxy Todd found out, despite the challenges, Olson hopes to hold onto his farm.


Pipeline Company Threatens Legal Action Against Survey Holdouts

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC is also expected to run through Appalachia. That company sent out letters this month threatening legal action against property owners who refused access to their land for surveying. Groups opposed to the pipeline believe there is no basis for legal action. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Jesse Wright looked into it and found out, the issue appears to be far from black and white.

Silas House on "Becoming a New Appalachia"

This year’s annual Appalachian Studies Conference is in Johnson City, Tennessee. Last year’s Keynote speaker was writer Silas House. In his talk, which combined poetry and musical performance, House spoke about discrimination against the LGBT community in Appalachia. He pointed out that Appalachia should be leading the nation in its inclusion of people of all backgrounds, races, sexual orientation and gender identities.

What Extremely Small Appalachian Town Recently Passed a Non-Discrimination Ordinance?

Thurmond, West Virginia recently became the smallest town in the country to pass a ban on all discrimination. Many other towns throughout Appalachia have passed similar laws, and others, have voted it down. The town was was once a booming railroad town. It had an opera house, a saloon, and hundreds of visitors each week, and hundreds of residents. But as the coal industry faded, so did the town as people left to find work outside of Thurmond. Today, 80 percent of the town is maintained by the National Park Service. It’s also the site where the movie Matewan, was filmed. 

Safety, Property Rights Unite Landowners Against Pipeline

In Ohio, another proposed pipeline project is drawing opposition from landowners concerned about their safety and property rights.  The Nexus pipeline would run 250 miles from gas wells in southeast Ohio through the state, to Michigan and Canada. The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports that it’s drawing opposition from landowners concerned about their safety and property rights.

Fracking Opponents Feel Police Pressure In Some Drilling Hotspots

Ever since the fracking boom took off, there have been protesters keeping a close eye on the industry, raising questions about the environmental effects of the practice. Now as fracking expands, so has community resistance in some places. Some police departments are working with the oil and gas industry to keep a close eye on protesters themselves. The surveillance is happening in drilling hotspots like Pennsylvania, Texas and the Rockies. Marie Cusick of WITF in Harrisburg has the story. 

Southern W.Va. Newspaper Has Been Reporting Each Week for 140 Years

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Newspapers have traditionally played an important role in delivering information that matters to a community, whether it be a pipeline proposal or young farmers. Whatever the local news is, one rural newspaper has played this role for 140 years. For the Traveling 219 Project, Gibbs Kinderman talked with the current editor of the Monroe Watchman, Craig Mohler, about the paper’s origins, in the unsettled years after the Civil War.

Cal Price and the Fabulous Feline Hoax

Another rural newspaper in West Virginia that has remained in existence for generations is the Pocahontas Times, based in Marlinton, W.Va. And the longtime editor of that paper, Calvin Price, believed until his death in the 1950s that panthers still existed in the forests of West Virginia. Jessie Wright- Mendoza, a former reporter for the Traveling 219 project, has been researching the history of a famous "panther hoax" that took place in Richwood, West Virginia, involving old Cal Price and Richwood newspaper editor Jim Comstock. KCRW’s show, Unfictional, picked up this story in a recent episode, and sent it to us to share with you.

Music in today’s show was provided by Ben Townsend, Dog and Gun, Andy Agnew Jr., Walt Koken, and Mac McAnally with "Back Where I Come From" as heard on Mountain Stage from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition.

Copyright 2015 WVPB-FM. To see more, visit http://wvpublic.org.