Tag Archives: history of appalachia

The whacks of a Shillelagh

St. Patrick’s Day is only a couple of weeks off, and one of the things you’ll always find plenty of at that celebration is shillelaghs. The shillelagh [siúil éille is an old Gaelic word meaning “oak club”] is a wooden cudgel associated with the Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow, Ireland, famous for its once massive […]

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The madstone would stick to the wound and draw the poison out

Right up till the early years of the 20th century, a bite from a rabid animal could strike terror in the hearts of Appalachian residents. Rabies slowly destroys the nervous system. It finally attacks the spinal cord and its victim may froth at the mouth, scream and fight. Before Louis Pasteur developed a successful vaccination […]

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Fasnacht in Helvetia WV

Lent will be here next Wednesday, and that means that many residents of Helvetia, WV will be foregoing hosenblatt meat pastries deep-fried in lard for awhile. This Saturday folks there will have ample opportunity to consume that delicacy, along with donuts and rosettes, at the annual Fasnacht celebration. The Swiss settlers of Helvetia combined the […]

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The frog who freezes solid for the winter

On bitterly cold mornings, when dry snow squeaks under boots and mustaches freeze solid, a variety of hardy animals keep the spark of life. An Appalachian frog holds one such amazing spark. The wood frog (rana sylvatica) overwinters under leaf litter in the forest floor—where it freezes solid. How can this be? By combining three adaptations, the […]

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When the Wind’s in the West, the Sap runs Best

When temperatures begin to rise in February and March, maple sap begins to flow from the roots of trees up the trunks to the branches and limbs. During the short period of spring when the daytime temperatures are above freezing, and the night temperatures are below freezing, the sap flows up and down the tree […]

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