• Headwaters of the Big Coal River -- Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

    The maps for this site are based on U.S.G.S. topographic quads and which were notated in field interviews conducted between 1994 and 1999. Dave Bailey, Woody Boggs, Ben Burnside, Ed Cantley, Tony Dickens, Paul Fitzwater, Ivan Jarrell, Ricky Meadows, Howard Miller, Elbert Pettry, Wesley Scarbrough, and Rocky Turner helped fill out the quads with local names, and their accounts of places and origins of ...

  • Seng Talk and Ginseng Tales -- Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

    Conjuring the Commons For seng aficionados, the ongoing prospect of ginseng makes the mountains gleam with hidden treasure. "It's like catching a big fish," said Randy Halstead. "You're out here all day and you find this big fish, and you know it's everybody's desire to catch this big fish in the lake. You find this big enormous plant and you know everybody that's out ...

  • "Holding up the Mountains" -- Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

    Forest Talk as Historical Discourse As talk about change, forest talk is part of a larger effort to construct local history through historical discourse.11 Constructing history, people relate themselves to their surroundings and position that relationship in time. History is, as Henry Glassie writes, "a prime mode of cultural construction...a way people organize reality to investigate truth to survive in their own terms."12 On ...

  • Biodiversity -- Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

    A Seasonal Round, and National Forest Policy Even in what residents perceive to be a deteriorated state, the comparative vitality of this forest is striking. Following his first visit to the coves on Coal River, plant pathologist David Houston of the USFS Northeastern experiments station commented, "I marvelled at the lushness and species diversity and the magnitude of the trees."10 Around that lushness, diversity, ...

  • Stalking the Wily Seng -- Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

    Though in biological terms ginseng is properly flora, in the ginsengers' world it behaves like fauna. Ginseng is not merely "harvested," it is "hunted," and rare six-, seven-, and eight-prong specimens are coveted like twelve-point bucks. There is an agency assigned to ginseng unparalleled among the many plants valued on Coal River. "It hides away from man with seeming intelligence," wrote Arthur Harding in ...