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 most astonishingly successful journalistic hoax of the early 20th century. In 1917 H.L. Mencken wrote a colorful history of the bathtub, published in the New York Evening Mail. Mencken’s history quickly became the accepted wisdom. Chiropractors cited it to prove that traditional medicine often stood in the way of progress. Cincinnati advertised itself as the birthplace of the American bathtub thanks to the article. The problem was, not a word of Mencken’s writing was true.
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.
In the days leading to the Civil War, goes the story, a local politician seceded Dade County from the state of Georgia, and thus the Union, rather than wait for Georgia to secede. This created the Independent State of Dade. It makes for a compelling tale. But it’s not quite accurate as history.
On June 15, 1934 it all officially came together at long last. Congress’ act dated that day noted that an area of 400,000 acres within the minimum boundary of the park had been acquired, and therefore it established the Great Smoky Mountains as a national park with sufficient land for administration, protection, and development.
Next, we’ll listen in on a portion of the Congressional hearings before the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration, held in May of 1942. The House Representatives focused on the workings of a bag loading plant in Talladega County, AL in order to understand the consequences of interstate migration caused by the national defense program.
We’ll wrap things up with a piece of tobacco history from the city of Wheeling, WV. The pack was expensive at 20 cents, but you got the first menthol-infused cigarette, ancestor to Kool, Salem and others. Why was it called Spuds?
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Don Richardson in a 1916 recording of Durang’s Hornpipe.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.