Historical writing and photos from the Depression years serves as inspiration for our travel guide to historical sites in West Virginia
Hi. Our names are Roxy Todd and Emily Newton, Americorps Volunteers working on this project. Working with the organization Appalachian Forest Heritage Area over the next year and a half, we will be traveling US 219 gathering oral histories to create an online and print guide of the Allegheny mountains, and the stories of those who have worked, traveled and lived along this road.
Published in 1942, a book called “West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State”, will serve as inspiration as we travel throughout the state. This book includes work from professional writers as well as school teachers, surveyors and journalists who found themselves out of work in The Depression and were employed by the WPA Federal Writers' Project. We’ll incorporate this valuable writing with new work, photographs and multi-media in an online and print publication. We’ll be interviewing, researching, recording, and talking with our neighbors to update the historical writing.
First we will publish a website, and next a printed guide about the historical, cultural and natural wonders along US 219, including Tucker, Randolph, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Monroe Counties in West Virginia. If you haven’t been here yet, please visit! We’ll show you around.
We’re really excited for this, and we really hope you can be a part!
We aim to present this guide to a shared audience of folks who want to learn more about the history and culture of these communities, insiders and outsides alike. Because we respect that not all documentation of rural life is done thoughtfully, and with integrity, we believe that many of the people we will be recording and talking with should tell their own story and history of their area, without outsiders, like us, interpreting their history for them. This work is just as much, if not more, for those people who have opened their homes to us as it is for visitors who are simply interested in traveling to historic sites and learning more.
We will be working with tourism promotional organizations to help with advertising of both our online and print guide to 219. The website publication will have podcasts of driving tours that people can download for free, as well as material that guides people inside the historic and cultural sites of interest along 219. We hope to make the print guide as affordable as possible, and to give as many copies away to community members and visitors as economically feasible, depending on the support we receive from funders. This project has generated interest in local media, and we hope to attract media from non-local newspapers and magazines as we launch the first ever work that updates material from the Federal Writers' Project.
Sites of interest along, and near, US 219 from Deep Creek Maryland to Rich Creek, VA. This guide is not going to be some hoaky, informational pamplet, but an actual work of art based upon historic writing. The aim is not to attract as many visitors to the area as possible with this guide, but to inform people who want to learn more about the people who live here and the lives that they live. It is a guide focusing on history, and a rich understanding of place and heritage, including sites that lead people to explore the music, rivers, mountains, caves, historic downtowns, farms, and food of our communities and to deepen their understanding of the people who have worked, traveled and lived along this road.
The material included in the online and print publications will be created in part by us, Roxy Todd and Emily Newton, Americorps volunteers, and in part community artists, scholars, students and writers. In fall of 2011, a team of WVU Journalism students with WV Uncovered will be working on some of the multimedia pieces to include in this guide. We are also gathering historic writing and photos, including materials created by the Federal Writers' Project during the Depression years, to be used in this publication. Along with other writers and historians, West Virginia historian Dr. Jerry Thomas, professor emeritus of history from Shepherd University, will be helping to advise and edit our materials as we prepare them for publication on our website and print guide.