We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. Check us out on the Stitcher network, available on mobile phones, in-car dashboards and tablets worldwide. Just click below to start listening:
We open today’s show with the story of the nation’s first bookmobile. Maryland librarian Mary Lemist Titcomb custom outfitted a horse-drawn Concord wagon in 1904 to deliver books to the residents of that state’s Washington County. It could display 200 volumes and store another 2,360 behind its shelves. “Psychologically, the wagon is the thing,” said Titcomb of the project. “One can no easier resist the pack of a peddler from the Orient as a shelf full of books when the doors of the wagon are opened at one’s gateway.”
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
Their scientific name is morchella esculenta, but to mushroom fans in Appalachia they’re dry land fish (yes, they do taste fishy when fried up) or molly moochers. Elsewhere in North America the hard-to-find morel mushroom is also known as a yellow morel, common morel, sponge mushroom, or honeycomb morel.
In 1895, German forester Dr. Carl A. Schenck accepted George Vanderbilt’s offer to come to North Carolina to manage and restore his vast woodland properties. Schenck oversaw thousands of acres dotted with several hundred houses and abandoned farms. In 1898, he established the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in the United States, using Vanderbilt’s forests as a campus.
“One bootlegger on North Mechanic Street had a box-like platform built out of a second story window over Wills Creek,” says Cumberland MD resident Herman J Miller in a 1978 oral history discussing Prohibition in that town. “If a raid should occur, the operator would just pull a rope and the bottom would drop out and the contents would drop down to the rocks below, for this is where he kept his whiskey. When the glass bottles hit the rocks, the bottles would shatter, and thus, no evidence.”
We’ll wrap things up with a cautionary folktale from Kentucky. An old miser takes great pleasure in hoarding up heaps of gold coins. But one day he discovers the gold has vanished.
And, thanks to the good folks at Juneberry78s.com, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by the Roanoke Jug Band in a 1929 recording of Stone Mountain Rag.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.