Skip to main content

Collection Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

Articles and Essays

  • American Ginseng and the Idea of the Commons

    The View from the Sundial Tavern. The Sundial Tavern, known up and down Coal River as "Kenny and Martha's," is a mom-and-pop-style beer joint on Route 3, in Sundial, West Virginia, just north of Naoma. Retired coal miner Kenny Pettry and his wife, Martha, now in their sixties, have been the proprietors for nearly thirty years. The bar's modest facade belies the often uproarious ...

  • Historical Maps of the Study Area

    The maps, below, illustrate different historical stages in the exploration and development of coalfields in the areas where the collection materials were gathered.

  • Landscapes and History at the headwaters of the Big Coal River

    From the air today, as one flies westward across West Virginia, the mountains appear to crest in long, undulating waves, giving way beyond the Allegheny Front to the deeply crenulated mass of the coal-bearing Allegheny plateaus. The sandstone ridges of Cherry Pond, Kayford, Guyandotte, and Coal River mountains where the headwaters of southern West Virginia's Big Coal River rise are the spectacular effect of ...

  • Ramp Suppers, Biodiversity, and the Integrity of "The Mountains"

    The Ramp House on Drew's Creek. Biodiversity has been protected through the flourishing of cultural diversity. Utilizing indigenous knowledge systems, cultures have built decentralized economies and production systems that use and reproduce biodiversity. Monocultures, by contrast, which are produced and reproduced through centralized control, consume biodiversity.1

  • Seasonal Round of Activities on Coal River

    The seasonal round on Coal River, showing the continuing role of the mixed mesophytic forest in community life. Many of these activites rely on common pool resources located in the mountains. Adapted from the graphic by Suzuki Graphics, based on interviews and a field sketch by Mary Hufford.

  • Seining for Hellgrammites on Coal River in West Virginia

    Hellgrammites, also known as "grampus," are the fierce and succulent larvae of the dobson fly. They first hatch in late spring and hide under rocks from would-be predators, such as red-eye, bass, wall-eye, and other game fish native to Coal River. The term grampus elsewhere refers to the whip-scorpion and the hellbender, fitting companions for a larva whose pincers draw blood.

  • Stalking the Mother Forest: Voices Beneath the Canopy

    Cove Topography. The Mixed Mesophytic Forest On a mid-December morning, my commuter plane en route from Washington, D.C., to Charleston, West Virginia, traverses in a matter of minutes Virginia's historic Piedmont. Gaining altitude, the plane bisects the ridge and valley of the Shenandoah, where the Skyline Drive meanders south toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. Soon after, the horizon opens onto the great Allegheny and ...

  • Interactive Maps

    Big Coal River and Surrounding Area. Map of Big Coal River and surrounding area information was compiled from the U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Online Data Base portal for the U.S. Census Bureau's TIGER Mapping Service (Accessed April, 2000). Map information was modified for illustration purposes.