Created By: PulpFreeBookworm on April 6, 2012 Last Edited By: Dalillama on February 2, 2014
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Useful Notes: Appalachia

A Useful Notes page about Appalachia

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The region of the United States known as Appalachia is commonly under or misrepresented in media, and Unfortunate Implications often result. The basics:
  • It covers all of West Virginia, a good chunk of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Eastern Kentucky, as well as parts of Virginia, Tennessee , Georgia, North Carolina and Western Maryland.
  • Pittsburgh is the biggest metro area inside Appalachia proper, but Washington, D.C. and Atlanta abut it, and Columbus, OH and Louisville, KY are an easy drive from WV. Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling (all in WV), Knoxville and Johnson City (all in TN), and the Roanoke-Blacksburg-Christiansburg area (technically just outside the poverty area) in Virginia are important smaller cities. Quite a few people from WV ended up in either Columbus or Washington, D.C..
  • Characterized by isolation, poverty, and coal mining. Historically, inbreeding was as big of a problem there as it was in several European royal families. The "blue people" of Kentucky are a famous case of a recessive gene showing up due to this. In Hollywood Appalachia, inbreeding is still a major thing; see Unfortunate Implications. Various health problems due to both the coal dust, the abysmal poverty and the genetic weirdnesses are common; one thing you'll notice about the area is how many hospitals they have relative to the population. The coming of TV and radio in the mid-20th century helped to break the isolation somewhat (though WV's terrain makes reception a problem without a lot of repeaters), and the construction of Interstates 64, 77, and 79 (the former only completed in 1988) opened up the barely-touched interior of West Virginia to the masses.
  • The northern edges of Appalachia (especially Pittsburgh, but also the WV cities) are part of the Rust Belt, and share those issues as well.
  • Quite a few of the little towns in the hills are "coal camps", company towns built especially to serve a mine in the immediate vicinity. As the mines closed in the 1970s and 1980s, the towns died out, and many of them are Ghost Towns now.
  • The region is also notorious for its' production of Moonshine; alcoholic beverages made by locals without any kind of regulation. Came to prominence during prohibition, and still continues to this day. The remote, isolated geography of the region makes it ideal because moonshiners can easily conceal their operations from authorities.
  • Aside from all that, the area is popular for tourism because of the tall mountains and deep ridges; the Appalachians are quite literally an older, shorter version of the Rockies, and comparisons have been made to Switzerland (though I always thought of the greener parts of California, myself). One very popular reason for visiting is to hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, usually simply referred to as the Appalachian Trail. The Trail is a 2,200 mile hiking and camping route. However, mountaintop-removal mining has been spoiling the view in several places, despite efforts to combat it.

Tropes relating to/ in works about Appalachia

  • Bad Ass Driver: A trait stereotypically associated with the Hillbilly Moonshiners and their Cool Cars. After all, you need to be able to handle that suped up hot rod on bad roads to outrun the law.
  • Company Town:In many areas of Appalachia, coal mining is the only significant economic activity, and coal companies created a lot of these throughout the area.
  • Cool Car: Moonshiners were prone to suping up their vehicles the better to outrun and outmaneuver lawmen. This eventually gave rise to stock car racing, and ultimately NASCAR.
  • Hillbilly Moonshiner: Appalachia is the source of many of the associated stereotypes, and home to a lot of moonshiners

Works set in Appalachia

Film
  • October Sky is about some boys from a West Virgina coal town seeking to win a science scholarship for rocketry.
Literature
  • Sharyn Mc Crumb's Ballad Novels are a series of mysteries that take place in and around a small Appalachian community.
Music
  • Aaron Copland's ballet Appalachian Spring, about the folk celebrating after building a barn, takes a more idealized view of the region.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • April 6, 2012
    Quatic
    Appalachia is, naturally, Katniss's district in The Hunger Games.
  • April 6, 2012
    Catbert
    @Pulp Free Bookworm

    If you want to write up a description and submit it for feedback, I would not object.

    @Quatic: This is a proposal for a Useful Notes page, not a trope. We don't need examples.
  • April 10, 2012
    lee4hmz
    The basics:
    • It covers all of West Virginia, a good chunk of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Eastern Kentucky, as well as parts of Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.
    • Pittsburgh is the biggest metro area inside Appalachia proper, but Washington DC and Atlanta abut it, and Columbus, OH and Louisville, KY are an easy drive from WV. Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling (all in WV), Knoxville and Johnson City (all in TN), and the Roanoke-Blacksburg-Christiansburg area (technically just outside the poverty area) in Virginia are important smaller cities. Quite a few people from WV ended up in either Columbus or Washington DC.
    • Characterized by isolation, poverty, coal mining, and inbreeding, which was as big of a problem there as it was in several European royal families. The "blue people" of Kentucky are a famous case of a recessive gene showing up due to this, and various health problems due to both the coal dust and the genetic weirdnesses are common; one thing you'll notice about the area is how many hospitals they have relative to the population. The coming of TV and radio in the mid-20th century helped to break the isolation somewhat (though WV's terrain makes reception a problem without a lot of repeaters), and the construction of Interstates 64, 77, and 79 (the former only completed in 1988) opened up the barely-touched interior of West Virginia to the masses.
    • The northern edges of Appalachia (especially Pittsburgh, but also the WV cities) are part of the Rust Belt, and share those issues as well.
    • Quite a few of the little towns in the hills are "coal camps", company towns built especially to serve a mine in the immediate vicinity. As the mines closed in the 1970s and 1980s, the towns died out, and many of them are Ghost Towns now.
    • Aside from all that, the area is popular for tourism because of the tall mountains and deep ridges; the Appalachians are quite literally an older, shorter version of the Rockies, and comparisons have been made to Switzerland (though I always thought of the greener parts of California, myself). However, mountaintop-removal mining has been spoiling the view in several places, despite efforts to combat it.
  • April 10, 2012
    PaulieRomanov
    I'd agree with all the above, having grown in the Appalachian Coalfields of Virginia and currently residing in Roanoke, VA (Which is just outside of the poverty line and Appalachia proper), however inbreeding is NOT as common as people make it out to be, especially in Hollywood.

    Everything else the above poster said is true. I grew up in a former coal camp that narrowly avoided becoming a ghost town, but is on it's way now. (The town in question is Dante, Virginia. CSX Railroads have a minor railyard in Dante which kept it from becoming entirely dead).
  • April 10, 2012
    lee4hmz
    Yeah, inbreeding was much more common a hundred years ago, when there was no TV, radio, or good roads. It's not really a problem anymore. My mom actually found some in our family from about that era (her mom is from Eastern Kentucky and her dad is from Mc Dowell County), but it hasn't happened again since.

    As for why Hollywood plays it up? It was still pretty common (or at least its effects were) before WWII, and when people started making movies about the area after the war ended, that was the stereotype they had to work with. That and I think they may have been conflating it with the Ozarks.
  • April 10, 2012
    animeg3282
    Yes, we'll note that that's only in Hollywood Appalacha.
  • April 10, 2012
    PaulieRomanov
    This is a good useful notes page. I say we get it published soon!
  • April 10, 2012
    redvelvetmock
    Does the Appalachian Trail deserve a mention or is this page more about the cultural aspects?
  • April 10, 2012
    TonyG
    Aaron Copland's ballet Appalachian Spring takes a more idealized view of the region.
  • April 10, 2012
    redvelvetmock
    October Sky takes place in a coal town in West Virginia. Also, Western Maryland is part of Appalachia.
  • June 5, 2012
    Orca19904
    The region is also notorious for its' production of Moonshine; alcoholic beverages made by locals without any kind of regulation. Came to prominence during prohibition, and still continues to this day. The remote, isolated geography of the region makes it ideal because moonshiners can easily conceal their operations from authorities.
  • June 5, 2012
    JMT97
    The definition geographically needs to be expanded at least into North Carolina, as the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Pittsburgh area to just north of Atlanta.
  • February 2, 2014
    Dalillama
    I ran across this, removed a hat because it wasn't in a state to be published, and collated and formatted all the stuff from the comments.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=diaej0quuuk6q33gneiynkcc&trope=UsefulNotesAppalachia