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Old 08-18-2018, 06:50 PM
 
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My husband and I are vacationing in southwestern West Virginia next week, and we will be visiting eastern Kentucky for the first time on the way to Charleston. We have been to WV before, so it's a bit easier to navigate, but Kentucky is new and we want to get it right.

I want to say this without offending anyone: we are looking for the most rural type of area possible, maybe a place that's been forgotten, a place in the hollers... just a place that no one would normally go to visit. It's really important for us to continue to educate ourselves about the culture, so that when we return to our (temporary) home state of NY, we can speak intelligently on the topic of rural Appalachia to the ignorant leftists who stereotype it and say offensive things in an effort to amuse each other.

If anyone is familiar with West Virginia, we are looking for a place like McDowell, Wyoming, or Boone Counties; places with a rich Confederate history would be a plus.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, I was just going to take us to a place called Pippa Passes that I found on the map. Does anyone have any info on this area? It's just a little far West, so any alternative suggestions would be really helpful! Thank you.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:48 AM
 
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicole111 View Post
My husband and I are vacationing in southwestern West Virginia next week, and we will be visiting eastern Kentucky for the first time on the way to Charleston. We have been to WV before, so it's a bit easier to navigate, but Kentucky is new and we want to get it right.

I want to say this without offending anyone: we are looking for the most rural type of area possible, maybe a place that's been forgotten, a place in the hollers... just a place that no one would normally go to visit. It's really important for us to continue to educate ourselves about the culture, so that when we return to our (temporary) home state of NY, we can speak intelligently on the topic of rural Appalachia to the ignorant leftists who stereotype it and say offensive things in an effort to amuse each other.

If anyone is familiar with West Virginia, we are looking for a place like McDowell, Wyoming, or Boone Counties; places with a rich Confederate history would be a plus.

In the absence of any information to the contrary, I was just going to take us to a place called Pippa Passes that I found on the map. Does anyone have any info on this area? It's just a little far West, so any alternative suggestions would be really helpful! Thank you.

Well, I had never heard of Pippa Passes (there is a cat in our neighborhood called Pippa)but I think it sounds like it might meet your criteria.


Quote:
Pippa Passes is a verse drama by Robert Browning. It was published in 1841 as the first volume of his Bells and Pomegranates series
According to Wikipedia it has a population of 297 people.



Eastern Kentucky can be one of the most beautiful places in the country, (except the parts destroyed by the Coal Companies or the parts not ravaged by extreme Poverty) and it has some of the warmest, friendliest and down to earth people you can imagine. (In some areas it does have some issues with drugs and crime) But the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky are very scenic and quite beautiful....and not as touristy or commercialized as some areas of the country.
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Old 08-19-2018, 02:27 PM
 
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West Virginia and Kentucky were both officially Union. The populations were divided with supporters on both sides but in most regions of these states it was majority Union. If you want a Confederate area, look around Bowling Green... or in Tennessee or Virginia.


I met a guy from Pippa Passes as a kid. Did some group hiking, camping, caving, climbing together but I don't recall him from school. He may have moved on pretty quickly. His father was a minister and he seemed too religious / small town / different for me at the time.


If you want "authentic" Appalachian farmer settlements stay away the coal areas. Authentic is a challenging term. The oldest would be Scots-Irish culture before it was called Appalachian. 19th century, 20th century, after 1960... it changed over time.


You can find crafts / music in Berea. But if you want living, natural Appalachia go deeper in the woods.


I don't know what you've heard or disagree with but there is a lot of bad, tragic history and weird stuff. Lots of local power brokers / clans. Hatfield / McCoy and dozens of other real conflicts. Good too. Mining is a big part of the middle part of the story. There are lots of books if you want to research the culture & history. Look at University of Kentucky press, read archived local newspapers, etc.


The area is super hilly and lots of areas were largely cut off from outside world before 1930. Still pretty closed off in large areas. Land cut of trees, farmed roughly and went "downhill" fast. Too many people. Family plots got divided & divided. Most left.

Last edited by NW Crow; 08-19-2018 at 03:03 PM..
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:00 PM
 
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Other places to visit: the Battle of Richmond Battlefield (south of Richmond, close to Berea), the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park (spared by the mine industry and spectacular), the (very) scenic steam train excursion from Stearns to the old coal camp of Blue Heron in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. Blue Heron is operated by the National Park Service now and features short programs presented by rangers.

Berea College was ahead of its time - founded by abolitionists Cassius Marcellus Clay and John Fee, it educated mountain youth of all races. It is still a forward-looking, highly competitive college, where no one pays tuition but everyone works. The town is lovely and is noted for arts and crafts and traditional music and dance and for elegantly simple Boone Tavern, a hotel owned and operated by the college. Try to dine there if you can.

Take the road over to Big Hill for a quick excursion through a beautiful pastoral mountain valley - if you have time, stop and climb Indian Fort Mountain, which belongs to the college and has miles of good hiking trails and spectacular views from the top.

Advance reading: Harry Caudill's "Night Comes to the Cumberlands" is essential for anyone wanting to learn more about the history and background of this area.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:04 PM
 
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Contact the Kentucky Department of Tourism for maps and brochures about the mountains and places of interest to visit. Additional state parks with good accommodations would include Pine Mountain State Park in Barbourville and Cumberland Falls State Park near Corbin.

If you want really early history of white settlement in Kentucky, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park is well-worth a visit, as are Boonesboro and Old Fort Harrod State Parks in the Bluegrass - both include replicas of 18th century pioneer forts. Central Kentucky was settled and "civilized" well before the timber and coal boom and bust cycles of the mountains.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:14 PM
 
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Pippa Passes was founded and named by Alice Lloyd, the missionary-educator for whom the present-day college there is named. If you've read "Christy", you'll have an idea about the various settlement schools that were planted throughout the southern mountains about 100 years ago, usually by educated women from the north.

You might want to do some reading about the Hindman and Pine Mountain Settlement Schools and the Red Bird Mission School, all of which are still around but whose missions have changed with the times. You could arrange a visit to any of these remarkable schools, but none are on Interstates and the roads to them are safe and paved but also winding so that you are unlikely to "make good time".

How long do you plan to be in Eastern Kentucky?

More recommended reading: Jean Ritchie's "Singing Family of the Cumberlands" describes the sort of rural life you have in mind - Jean was born in 1920, the youngest of a very large family, in Perry County, Ky. Check out her wonderful music, too - lots to enjoy on YouTube and good traveling music for your trip. Don't miss "Black Waters"...and "The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore".

I miss her...
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:10 PM
 
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OP, upon re-reading your query, it concerns me that you want to visit Eastern Kentucky so you can set your "leftist" neighbors straight once you're back in NY - yet you seem to assume that Eastern Kentucky was Confederate in sympathy during the Civil War, and want to visit places that will confirm this preconceived (and incorrect) idea.

How much do you already know about Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia? West Virginia didn't exist as such prior to the Civil War - as the area was Union in sympathy, it "seceded" from Virginia!

Similarly, you won't find many isolated rural settlements such as you describe - electricity has been around for a very long time, and with it, radio and television. Cars and telephones, even computers are commonplace everywhere, Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia included.

What exactly are these "leftist" acquaintances saying about the mountains and their people that you think is offensive? The old barefooted, gun-totin' hillbilly stereotype? One too many readings of "Hillbilly Elegy", perhaps? Or is it Kentucky's current senators and governors that come up in conversation disparagingly (lots of Kentuckians speak the same way about them, btw) and thus lead to rude assumptions being voiced about Kentuckians, notably Eastern Kentuckians?

Kentuckians have heard it all, believe me. It's wrong, it's rude, and it's tiresome when ignorant outsiders engage in this sort of thing to puff themselves up at our expense. It sounds as if this is what you've encountered, though I can't be sure.

But spending a few days in one small town in the mountains isn't going to be enough to give you a thorough knowledge of Appalachian Kentucky and its history, economy, and way of life, much less to counter those rude stereotypes on the basis of "when I was in the mountains..." - if this one brief visit is the sole extent of your experience in those mountains.

So please come visit. Talk with people, like you're doing here, ask questions, be appreciative and compliment whatever you think is compliment-worthy. See and do all you can, but realize that whatever you see and do is going to be just a very tiny bit of the whole, though it might be an excellent stepping stone for further learning and visits.
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Old 08-20-2018, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
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You should visit eastern Kentucky to gain an appreciation for the land and the people, not to build a quiver of darts to send at your lefty neighbors. Geeze. No wonder the social climate in America is so toxic these days.
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:33 PM
 
123 posts, read 267,278 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
OP, upon re-reading your query, it concerns me that you want to visit Eastern Kentucky so you can set your "leftist" neighbors straight once you're back in NY - yet you seem to assume that Eastern Kentucky was Confederate in sympathy during the Civil War, and want to visit places that will confirm this preconceived (and incorrect) idea.

How much do you already know about Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia? West Virginia didn't exist as such prior to the Civil War - as the area was Union in sympathy, it "seceded" from Virginia!

Similarly, you won't find many isolated rural settlements such as you describe - electricity has been around for a very long time, and with it, radio and television. Cars and telephones, even computers are commonplace everywhere, Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia included.

What exactly are these "leftist" acquaintances saying about the mountains and their people that you think is offensive? The old barefooted, gun-totin' hillbilly stereotype? One too many readings of "Hillbilly Elegy", perhaps? Or is it Kentucky's current senators and governors that come up in conversation disparagingly (lots of Kentuckians speak the same way about them, btw) and thus lead to rude assumptions being voiced about Kentuckians, notably Eastern Kentuckians?

Kentuckians have heard it all, believe me. It's wrong, it's rude, and it's tiresome when ignorant outsiders engage in this sort of thing to puff themselves up at our expense. It sounds as if this is what you've encountered, though I can't be sure.

But spending a few days in one small town in the mountains isn't going to be enough to give you a thorough knowledge of Appalachian Kentucky and its history, economy, and way of life, much less to counter those rude stereotypes on the basis of "when I was in the mountains..." - if this one brief visit is the sole extent of your experience in those mountains.

So please come visit. Talk with people, like you're doing here, ask questions, be appreciative and compliment whatever you think is compliment-worthy. See and do all you can, but realize that whatever you see and do is going to be just a very tiny bit of the whole, though it might be an excellent stepping stone for further learning and visits.
Thank you for your responses. I just wanted to clear up a few things: West Virginia is my heart, since I was a teenager. I spent my honeymoon there last year, and I put a lot of reasearch into the state and its heritage. There were still things that had to be seen firsthand, and we didn't see nearly enough, which is why we're going back this year.

I have a BA in history, so I am aware that Kentucky was a border state that never seceded, and, as the legend goes, West Virginia was a state that seceded from a state that seceded, presumably to avoid slavery, or at least that is what the museum in Wheeling (a Union stronghold) will tell you. The Confederate flags flying throughout Wyoming County tell a different story though. It is my opinion as a historian that West Virginia's secession from Virginia was illegal and Unconstitutional. Most WV counties voted to secede from the Union actually. That is why I plan to visit a Hatfield museum in Sarah Ann, WV, so that I can hear what really happened.

Just because cars and radios exist doesn't mean that our states, regions, or communities are similar. (There is actually a county in WV that has no radio, due to military research and testing, so your assertion isn't even true across the board).

I have to confess I am completely ignorant with regard to Kentucky politics. I mostly pay all of my attention to national politics.

All I said was that I was hoping to find a place rich in Confederate history while I was in KY. If I were visiting, say, Alabama, I wouldn't be asking around the Internet for a place rich in Confederate history, because I assume they would be easy to find. If I were going to Indiana, which was Union, I would still be asking for places rich in Confederate history, because I know they exist. I don't assume everyone was Confederate; not by a long shot. West Virginia is very different from ant place in the world I've been, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that Kentucky could be too. That's why I posted.

I will actually only be in Kentucky for a few hours, on my way to Charleston. I heard it was a wonderful place, so I came seeking insight. If it's anything like West Virginia, I am sure I will be compelled to spend much of my spare time learning about the region.

HBO made a documentary that took place in Kentucky about 15 or 20 years ago. I remember very little about it, other than the fact that an adult couple had no car so they walked miles to and from GED school every day. I have never seen or heard of anything like that in all of my years living in NY and FL. I don't judge it; I just find it interesting, and I would like to see something peculiar like that in person. Clearly people have an interest in it, or HBO would not have made the documentary. There are also documentaries about drug-running in South Florida, where I lived for four years, and received an excellent legal education. If someone posted on the Internet that they were going to Miami and wanted to know more about the drug culture, I'm not sure I would find it necessary to remind them that not everyone runs drugs. If they are stupid enough to think that, I can't help them...

Yes, the stereotypes people use about Kentucky are all you are thinking of. I find that nothing stops a joke about a brother marrying his sister faster than someone saying, "oh, Kentucky? I've actually been there." Having gone to West Virginia was the only thing that could stop my know-it-all anti-fracking cousin from speaking on it as if she's been there.

I'm not pursuing this region because I'm looking to take up a cause; I'm pursuing it because it's part of my American culture, and it's largely overlooked.

BTW, I despise JD Vance, but I thought Hillbilly Elegy was an interesting read. Is it, to your knowledge, inaccurate?
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:53 PM
 
123 posts, read 267,278 times
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Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
You should visit eastern Kentucky to gain an appreciation for the land and the people, not to build a quiver of darts to send at your lefty neighbors. Geeze. No wonder the social climate in America is so toxic these days.
Yes, the reason the social climate in America is so "toxic" these days is because...I want to visit Kentucky with my husband to learn the culture? That's logical.

And I'm the "toxic" one for hoping one byproduct of that visit is to be able to shut down ignorant and offensive speech with intelligent speech, as opposed to the unwashed social justice warriors who wish to end speech with which they disagree with force...?

I actually don't find the social climate in this country to be "toxic" at all. I have perfectly pleasant conversations about economics and politics with people every day. It's only when a leftist inserts themselves that things become unpleasant. What I have been finding in the past year and a half, is a glasnost, if you will, or a Prague Soring of sorts, where people feel free to express their ideas without being labeled "racist, suffering from "toxic masculinity," or "white privilege."

Moderator cut: Off topic

Last edited by Oldhag1; 08-25-2018 at 08:37 AM..
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