**Warning:  Graphic Depictions of Violence in this post Have you ever met the devil in Appalachia? Alone in unnerving wooded areas day or night? The devil wears different disguises. For some, he is a brawny satyr with goat legs, bovine horns, and an arrowed pin tail. For others, the devilContinue Reading

In the primeval forests of Appalachia, among the wildness, among the coal mines and their homegrown communities, waters flow. From mountain ridges these waters course and trickle into one another. Momentum from this continuum carves, molds, and sculpts ancient rock. Ever so slowly, water erodes away the lithology. Soluble mineralsContinue Reading

**Photo Source:  Library of Congress The history of the Southern Appalachian region is a saga of exploitation by profiteers inimical to the aims of ordinary people to provide for their families in safe conditions. The brutal treatment of coal miners and their families is well known and thoroughly documented. However,Continue Reading

If you read my review of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, then you’ll recognize that Elizabeth Catte’s What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia has done my work for me, though we arrived at similar conclusions independently. Catte is a historian with more than simply an anecdotal interest in Appalachia. WhereasContinue Reading

“Shut up, you fucker. You smart-ass. If I wasn’t crippled, I’d get up right now and smack your head and ass together.” – Mamaw from J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy   My suspicion is that J.D. Vance tries to shock his readers by pretending he’s unfazed by his family’s white trashContinue Reading

The next part of our journey transports us on a cold December day to Briceville, Tennessee – just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Coal Creek. We arrive at the Cross Mountain mine almost ten years after the Fraterville mine disaster. Coal camps in Appalachia were cheerful inContinue Reading

After the Coal Creek War, coalminers garnered a new respect, reclaimed their jobs and formed unions. Coal companies gained a skilled workforce and restructured the industry better than it was before convict-leasing. Families were relatively happy as normalcy and stability returned. Ten years after the Coal Creek War’s end, however,Continue Reading

A city in East Tennessee rests quite unobtrusive and timeless against a misty mountain backdrop. Historic architecture lines the old main street that once felt the drumbeat of a booming industry. Rocky Top was originally named Coal Creek. Pioneers first settled the area in the mid-1800s and found the banksContinue Reading

**Photograph:  A crowd of miners confronting soldiers – Harlan County, Kentucky 1939   My stage play, “Which Side Are You On:  The Florence Reece Story,” debuted at Pellissippi State Community College on April 15, 2016. The play recounts episodes in the life of Florence Reece, an American social activist, poet,Continue Reading

When I was about five years old (before we moved to the holler), my family and I lived in a little green house on a little paved street in Jacksboro, Tennessee. My younger brother and I often felt cramped in our small, grassy yard so we regularly wandered but neverContinue Reading