Tag Archives: appalachian culture

The day they hung Murderous Mary the elephant

On September 13, 1916 a five-ton circus elephant was executed, hung from a 100-ton Clinchfield railroad crane car, in the little town of Erwin, Tennessee. ‘Murderous Mary’ had killed a man, and for that she had to die. Shooting her in the four soft spots on her head would be both difficult and dangerous. She […]


"I’d always been a tomboy and I’d always carried a knife"

In [nurse] training we were all just a bunch of poor girls, most of us lived out in the country. Five of ‘em had come [to work at Blue Ridge Sanatorium] because they had TB and couldn’t get in anywhere else, and they found out that they could get in at Blue Ridge. So we […]


Labor Day! Picnics, parades, dove shoots

In the hunting world, it’s a fast growing sport. Dove season opened September 1 in North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia. Federal authorities regulate the sport, because mourning doves are considered to be migratory birds just like ducks and geese. Therefore, the season dates, bag limits and specific regulations are set each […]


Bald is beautiful

Ah, southern Appalachian ‘balds,’ those curious subalpine meadows. From northern Georgia to southwestern Virginia, there are scores of such grassy peaks sprinkled along the Appalachian mountain chain. They are an enigma, being largely devoid of trees and other woody vegetation where one would normally expect to see a continuation of the surrounding forest. In places, […]


A town dies, a park is born

Today the former town of Elkmont, TN in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a magnet for lovers of the synchronous firefly display. But in the early 1930s nature’s display was being outshone by political sparks flying in all directions. The previously bucolic summer haven for the socially prominent and wealthy […]

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