Saving the mountain and preserving history

Photo Collage

Today is the deadline for comments to be heard concerning Blair Mountain in West Virginia, being set aside as a historical landmark or whether the coal operators will level Blair Mountain.

It’s a fight that has gone on for a long time, even after the initial battle there in 1921. If you are not familiar with Blair Mountain, here is a synopsis.

According to the opening paragraph of the account in Wikipedia, Blair Mountain was the site of one of the “largest labor uprisings in United States history and one of the largest, best-organized, and most well-armed uprisings since the American Civil War.”

Back in 2016, my friend Steve Gilly, the co-host of “Stories: A History of Appalachia”, and I recorded a podcast about Blair Mountain and the history of this significant event.

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Stephen and Owen King, “Sleeping Beauties” horror, murder and stereotypes in Appalachia

In the coming weeks, I may have a guest blogger here on “Appalachian Chained” discussing their opinion and take away from Stephen King and his son Owen’s new collaboration, “Sleeping Beauties”.

You may ask, what does Stephen and Owen King and their new book “Sleeping Beauties” have to do with Appalachia? Plenty, if what I have seen from some of the excerpts from this novel.

According to the publisher, the book is “set in a future Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison. A disturbing phenomenon occurs (what else could happen in a King novel) when women in the town go to sleep. They become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. When awoken, “the women become feral and spectacularly violent.”

Now let me remind you. I haven’t read the book but a good friend who loves Stephen King and reading, is going through the book now and she has pulled out sections and excerpts from the book that have made me raise an eyebrow, get a little angry and also made my blood boil due to stereotypes as viewed by the New England based writer and his son, with the older King famous for such properties as “Salem’s Lot”, “Christine”, “The Stand” and of course, “It”.

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Roots in Appalachia


My Mullins family connection from L-R: Andrew Jackson Mullins, my great-great grandfather, David A.J. Mullins, my great grandfather, James Russell Mullins, my grandfather and Roscoe Mullins, my father.

When I started “Appalachian Chained”, I stepped outside my comfort zone.

I internalized a lot of issues, many of them dealing with Appalachia and life until after encouragement from friends and family, I decided to start putting them down online in the blog.

It hasn’t been easy writing the blog.  I’ve had to carefully choose subjects, sometimes I have ranted, other times, I have tried to combine my love for history, Appalachia and other interests together into the blog.

But this weekend, I’m getting ready to step outside my comfort zone once again, this time to speak on the life and times of my great-great grandfather and his place in Appalachian/Cumberland culture along with such names as “Devil John Wright, Doc Taylor, “The Red Fox of the Cumberlands”, The Melungeons, and much more.

And once again, I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew on these roots in Appalachia.

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Helping is just our way here in Appalachia


For the last two weeks, the weather has certainly been in the news.  Hurricane Harvey hit coastal Texas and precipitation totals of over 50 inches of rain have inundated Houston and other parts of the Lone Star state.

Now, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Florida coast and has been recorded by some as the strongest Category Five hurricane on record and could affect our weather in Appalachia.

Despite feeling sometimes as the outcast of the United States, that mountain section of the country filled with “Bible thumpin’, gun totin’, redneck hillbillies” as we are referred to sometimes, has pitched in to help and most if not all without asking for a thing in return.

Just to meet the need.

Crews have left the Mountain Empire from where I live, taking on the responsibility of helping families in Texas devastated by the flooding of Harvey while some have left for Florida in preparation for what Irma might deliver by this weekend.

Despite the reputation and the perceived notion that we are “ignorants” in the mountains, we do have a heart; and a very big one at that. We take the criticism of where we are from, those preconceived notions of Appalachia, our talk and more, and drop what we are doing to go and help someone in need.

It’s just our way.

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What does Charlottesville have to do with NASCAR and Appalachia?

img_20170602_113802.jpgWhen I am not writing posts for the blog “Appalachian Chained”, I am usually covering news and sports stories of interest as a freelance multimedia journalist. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to cover the big extravaganza known as the Night Races at Bristol on Friday and Saturday nights.

I’m there with my camera in hand taking photos of the cars in action, photos of the drivers and recording video of interviews all to put together in some multimedia form for a client or report about the events on my own.

This past weekend, I was covering the race weekend for a good friend and his online publication in Waynesboro, VA. We met online years ago and finally got to meet face to face back in March of 2017. He gave me the opportunity to cover the events at Bristol Motor Speedway for his publication and also to give me the chance to get back into the swing of reporting.

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Shall we play an escape game?

It has been an extremely tough week looking at the news concerning Appalachia and in particular, Southwestern Virginia, its future, and the dwindling population numbers for the region.

The headlines have been attention grabbing. The Roanoke Times with op-ed pieces entitled, “Should we just let Appalachia go?” and “Population loss in Virginia’s coalfields region projected to continue for decades”, have been enough to rattle me and plunge me into depressionary depths this week and for that matter anyone else when seeing headlines like that or diving into the figures.

It’s enough to make anyone put their hands to their head, start running and screaming to get me out of Appalachia.

After reading the articles, I decided to sit down and put a positive spin on the population loss from Virginia’s coalfields. One of my hobbies include designing logos and things for friends or projects, so I decided to develop a logo and a campaign for the Commonwealth of Virginia to use as their next big economic endeavor at, ahem, saving Southwest Virginia or better yet, pushing the entire region off the cliff.

And here it is:

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