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Wildflowers, Paddle Makers, Turkey Calls - And More Inside Appalachia

jon whitewater paddle
Clara Haizlett
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Jon Rugh with his handmade wooden paddle at the New River near Blacksburg, VA.

This week, we’re airing an encore episode of Inside Appalachia. We’ll meet a man who makes wooden turkey calls, not ordinary turkey calls. Painter Brian Aliff doesn’t call himself an artist, but he intricately paints his turkey calls, which are now collectors’ items. We’ll also meet people who make wooden paddles by hand and custom-decorate each one, and a man who repairs cuckoo clocks.

Finally, we’ll travel to some of the most beautiful spots in Appalachia to find wildflowers, like Dolly Sods and the Canaan Valley of West Virginia. And we wonder -- are these areas becoming too popular? Those stories and more this week Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Welder Keeps Old Clocks Ticking
When you need to check the time, where do you look? Most people turn to their phones or digital watches. These days, it seems like every electronic device has a clock function in addition to whatever it’s supposed to do, but it hasn’t always been this way. Not all that long ago, marking the passage of time was the job of one device — a clock.

Folkways reporter Zack Harold spent some time with Carl Witt, a man in Fairview, West Virginia who learned how to repair clocks after crossing paths with the late Charles Decker. Witt, a welder at the time, decided to retire and went on to start his own clock repair business — Curiosity Clockworks.

Dolly Sods Hosts Wildflower Pilgrimage
Dolly Sods is federally protected public land — full of rocky ridges, soggy bogs and beautiful views. It’s also the site of an annual nature walk called the West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage. This weekend will be the 60th time that wildflower and birding experts descend on the area for the event. Inside Appalachia co-host Mason Adams made the pilgrimage from his home in Floyd County, Virginia to Dolly Sods last year for the pilgrimage.

Paddlers Design Their Own Gear
Appalachia has several huge rivers: the Gauley, the Youghiogheny and the New River, just to name a few. Whitewater paddling is popular in the region, but it wasn’t that long ago modern paddlers first started exploring these rivers, designing their own gear and even building their own paddles. Some of those DIY paddle makers are now master crafters and their work is in high demand. As part of our Inside Appalachia Folkways Project, Clara Haizlett learned more.

Handmade Turkey Calls
Like many Appalachian traditions, turkey calls go way back. Historically, they’ve been used as a hunting tool, but one West Virginia artist has taken it to the next level. Brian Aliff makes hand-crafted, prize-winning decorative turkey calls. These pieces are functional and they’re becoming collector's items, but it took a while for Aliff to think of himself as an artist. Hear Folkways reporter Connie Kitts talk with Aliff on this week’s episode.

Increase In Tourism Puts Strain On Local Infrastructure
Tucker County, West Virginia, has seen a surge of new visitors from Washington, D.C. in the years since U.S. Route 48, also known as Corridor H, opened. The growing number of visitors is good for business, but it’s also straining the resources of a county with just one stoplight and 7,000 year-round residents. Mason Adams visited the towns of Thomas and Davis in Tucker County, West Virginia and has this story about managing growth and resources against the backdrop of expansive natural beauty.

 

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Wes Swing, Dinosaur Burps, and The Chamber Brothers. Roxy Todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Alex Runyon is our associate producer. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

You can send us an email: InsideAppalachia@wvpublic.org. You can also find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.

Stay Connected
Inside Appalachia Co-Host/Folkways Reporter, mason.j.adams@gmail.com, @MasonAtoms
Reporter/Producer for Inside Appalachia, rtodd@wvpublic.org, 304-556-4936, @RoxyMTodd
Alex Runyon is a proud Huntington, West Virginia native. She attended Marshall University and earned degrees in creative writing and literary studies, dabbling in journalism, photography and women’s studies along the way. She worked as a freelance photographer and social media strategist before joining the Inside Appalachia team as Associate Producer. Alex enjoys writing and performing stand up comedy, hiking, screenwriting and playing board games. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia with her cat, Waylon Kittings. Follow her on Twitter @_AlexRunyon.