Radio

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Just about any search on Google for “best white water rafting” includes West Virginia. Around 150,000 people commercially raft a West Virginia river each year, mostly on the New River and Gauley River, which are near Fayetteville, West Virginia. At one point there were just less than 30 rafting companies in the area. Today, they have consolidated into six adventure businesses. 

Jesse Wright

Some of the names of places in Appalachia have a long history, dating back to the 1600s. The history and story behind a name can get lost over time – leading us to question how a place got its name.

One such place is Coopers Rock state forest, located outside of Morgantown. Who was Cooper? Was he a real person? Did he live there?

Caitlin Tan

Peanut butter stouts, guava sours, hazy double IPAs, pomegranate ales – these are just a few experimental beers to come out of the craft beer craze in recent years.

According to the National Brewer’s Association, this expanding industry started in the 1990s but didn’t gain momentum until 2010, making it relatively new. Today there are more than 7,000 commercial breweries in the country.

Photo courtesy of West Virginia and Regional History Center

West Virginia University researchers recently completed a year-long project exploring the history of a coal community in Monongalia County, using photos and oral history to create an exhibit.


www.nps.gov / National Park Service

A National Park Service report released Sunday, details the economic benefits to Southern West Virginia last year. According to the report, tourism to the region’s national parks helped spur the economy by almost $70 million.

Jesse Wright

The tall, red brick building that was once home to Rowlesburg High School still stands after surviving the historic 1985 flood.

After the flood it was no longer used as a school, but today it remains the heart of the community of Rowlesburg – it's where people meet, festivities are held, weekly dinners are made, etc.

On this day in Mountain Stage history, iconic alt-rock band R.E.M. appeared on the show. It was one of only three shows the band would play that year.

West Virginia Division of Culture and History / State Archives

Broadcaster Harry Brawley died on March 25, 1992, at age 82. The Charleston native was a polio survivor. He eventually learned to walk but struggled with it his entire life. After earning two degrees from West Virginia University, Brawley became a teacher. At Charleston High School, he had the novel idea of incorporating the radio into the classroom. In 1945, he became the director of public affairs for Charleston’s WCHS radio station and won an award for his “School of the Air,” a pioneering program for high schoolers.

Caitlin Tan

Families all across the world pass on traditions and it is no exception in Appalachia.

Traditions like making apple butter in the fall, or celebrating Christmas morning at mamaws, or picking ramps at that secret spot in the spring, or even just going to church on Sunday.

But for one family in Lincoln County, West Virginia, the tradition is building furniture.


Caitlin Tan

See a recipe for salt rising bread at the bottom of this page. 

Salt Rising bread has a long history in Appalachia. Typically, people outside of the region have never heard of it.

The bread often brings to mind a variety of distinctive scents and grandmothers tending to a time-intensive dough in a wood-heated kitchen.

Caitlin Tan

Editor's Note: It is with great sadness to report that Jane Gilchrist passed away Friday, March 8, 2019. The West Virginia Public Broadcasting team offers its deepest sympathies and condolences to Jane's family and friends. Click here for Jane's obituary.

Most Americans typically wear clothes made in factories overseas. The same goes for fabrics in homes, such as potholders, rugs and blankets. But it has not always been this way.

February 5, 1890: Cam Henderson Born in Marion County

Feb 5, 2019
Henderson played the tournament with only eight players due to budget restrictions on travel.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Coach Cam Henderson was born in Marion County on February 5, 1890. He grew up in Harrison County before attending Glenville State College, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. In 1923, he started a successful 12-year run as head football and basketball coach at Davis and Elkins College. Then, in 1935, he moved on to Marshall College.

February 4, 1951: Fiddler "Blind Ed" Haley Dies in Ashland KY

Feb 4, 2019
Playing on street corners, courthouse squares, and other public places, Ed Haley became one of the most influential fiddlers of his day. Fiddle great Clark Kessinger considered him the best he’d ever heard.
E-WV, The Humanities Council

Legendary fiddler “Blind Ed” Haley died in Ashland, Kentucky, on February 4, 1951.

The Logan County native never made any commercial recordings during his lifetime because he feared that record companies would cheat a blind musician. However, just by playing on street corners, courthouse squares, and other public places, he became one of the most influential fiddlers of his day. Fiddle great Clark Kessinger considered him the best he’d ever heard.

January 30, 1895: Mingo County Formed

Jan 30, 2019
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

West Virginia’s youngest county came into existence on January 30, 1895, when the legislature created Mingo County from Logan County. When West Virginia entered the Union in 1863, it had 50 counties. Grant, Mineral, Lincoln, and Summers counties were added during the first four years of statehood.

January 29, 1873: Chesapeake & Ohio Completed

Jan 29, 2019
More than 7,000 men—including many African Americans—laid track through the New River Gorge and cut tunnels through the mountains between Hinton and Covington, Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 29, 1873, railroad officials gathered at Hawks Nest in Fayette County to drive the last spike on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The C&O, as it was known, connected the Ohio River with the Atlantic Ocean and gave birth to the modern coal and timber industries in southern West Virginia.

January 28, 1937: Worst Recorded Flooding Occurs Along the Ohio River

Jan 28, 2019
Nobody living between Huntington and Parkersburg had ever seen anything like the 1937 flood, which was brought on by melting snow and 19 straight days of rain.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On January 28, 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Days earlier, it’d crested at the same level in Parkersburg and 10 feet above flood stage in Wheeling.

January 23, 1888: Labor Leader Fred Mooney Born

Jan 23, 2019
This was a particularly active period in the Mine Wars—a violent time that pitted miners against coal operators.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Labor leader Fred Mooney was born in Kanawha County on January 23, 1888. At age 13, he began working in coal mines as a trapper boy. 

Six years later, at the young age of 19, he became secretary-treasurer of District 17 of the United Mine Workers of America.

January 22, 1927: Confederate General John McCausland Died

Jan 22, 2019
In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland died at his Mason County home on January 22, 1927. He was 90 years old and the next-to-the-last living Confederate general. He was survived by a little more than a year by Felix Robertson.

McCausland had grown up at Henderson, near Point Pleasant. In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.

January 21, 1906: First Passenger Train on the Coal & Coke Railroad

Jan 21, 2019
When he started on the Coal & Coke, all but 107 miles of the track between Elkins and Charleston already existed as part of other railroads.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 21, 1906, the first passenger train on the Coal & Coke Railway ran from Elkins to Charleston. The railroad was the brainchild of industrialist and former U.S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis. It allowed him to market coal and timber resources from his vast landholdings in Randolph, Upshur, Braxton, Gilmer, and Barbour counties. When he started on the Coal & Coke, all but 107 miles of the track between Elkins and Charleston already existed as part of other railroads. Davis simply acquired those lines and completed the missing segment.

January 16, 1892: Activist Robert Simmons Dies

Jan 16, 2019
 Sumner was the first school for African American children in present-day West Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Robert Simmons died at his Parkersburg home on January 16, 1892. A free black man during the days of slavery, he moved to Parkersburg in 1841 and earned a living as a barber. He and his wife Sarah worried that their nine children wouldn’t receive a proper education.

So, in 1862, he and other free black men established Sumner School in Parkersburg. Sumner was the first school for African American children in present-day West Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

January 14, 1957: Cecil Underwood Inaugurated State's Youngest Governor

Jan 14, 2019
However, Underwood was able to pass measures to provide emergency benefits to unemployed miners and to create a new economic development agency.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 14, 1957, Cecil Underwood became West Virginia’s youngest governor. The 34-year-old Tyler County native also became the state’s first Republican governor in 24 years.

January 9, 1911: State Poet Laureate Louise McNeill Born

Jan 9, 2019
In 1979, Governor Jay Rockefeller named her state poet laureate.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

West Virginia Poet Laureate Louise McNeill was born on her family’s Pocahontas County farm on January 9, 1911. Her first book, Gauley Mountain, was published in 1939. In it, she peppered her poems with the speech and dialect she’d grown up with.

With its rich tapestry of stories and characters, Gauley Mountain is still hailed as a classic work of American poetry.

Over the next few decades, she taught college English but didn’t publish another major collection until 1972.

January 8, 1964: President Johnson Declares War on Poverty

Jan 8, 2019
For instance, community organizers in Mingo County and other parts of southern West Virginia fought to clean up their local governments. In the process, they drew the wrath of powerful politicians.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson called on Congress to declare an “unconditional war on poverty.” Combatting poverty had been a big thrust of John F. Kennedy’s campaign in 1960. Johnson introduced the War on Poverty legislation less than seven weeks after his predecessor’s assassination.

January 7, 1933: Jamboree Airs on WWVA

Jan 7, 2019
Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling
Steve Shaluta / Humanities Council

On January 7, 1933, the Jamboree first aired on WWVA radio in Wheeling. Along with other radio shows of the day—like the Grand Old Opry, the Chicago Barn Dance, and the Louisiana Hayride—the weekly Jamboree helped make country music an international sensation. At its peak, it could be heard across much of the East Coast and even in parts of Canada. Its listenership went national for a while in the ’50s, when CBS radio picked up a portion of the broadcasts every third week.

January 5, 1887: New Capitol Building Dedicated in Charleston

Jan 5, 2019
Charleston Capitol Circa 1887
E-WV / WV State Archives

On January 5, 1887, Governor E. Willis Wilson hosted a ball and banquet to dedicate West Virginia’s new capitol building in downtown Charleston. The event marked the end of what had become a running joke in the state’s early years—the location of the capital city. In the first two decades of statehood, the capital had already been moved from Wheeling to Charleston and back to Wheeling, again.

The dedication event in Charleston marked the capital’s final journey—at least in terms of host cities.

January 2, 2006: Sago Mine Explosion Kills 12 Miners

Jan 2, 2019
In this Jan. 2, 2007 file photo, crosses, wreaths and a candle lay at the Sago miners' memorial in Sago, W.Va., on the one-year anniversary of the mine explosion that trapped and killed 12 miners near Buckhannon.
Jeff Gentner / Associated Press

An explosion at the Sago mine in Upshur County killed 12 men on January 2, 2006. The initial methane blast at 6:30 a.m. killed one worker. Twelve men sought refuge from the carbon monoxide fumes, but 11 men were dead by the time rescuers reached them 41 hours later. 

The resulting law increased mine inspections; allowed the government to shut down unsafe mines; placed stricter limits on coal dust; improved ventilation, roof supports, and methane detection; and provided compensation to miners suffering from black lung.
E-WV / Humanities Council

On December 30, 1969, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.  Since the Monongah mine disaster in Marion County more than 60 years earlier, Congress had been passing laws to address coal mine safety. However, most were filled with loopholes or lacked funding for enforcement.

The tide turned after another Marion County disaster. The 1968 Farmington explosion killed 78 miners. Americans watched in horror as the drama unfolded on national TV. 

December 25, 1887: Folk Artist James T. Rexrode Born

Dec 25, 2018
At first, he drew only from his photographs but then started painting what he called the “old-timey subjects” of his youth.
liveauctioneers.com / e-WV

Folk artist James T. Rexrode was born in Pendleton County on Christmas Day 1887. Although he’d always been an amateur photographer, he didn’t start painting until late in life.

December 24, 1852: B&O Railroad Completed Near Moundsville

Dec 24, 2018
When West Virginia statehood leaders carved out the new state’s borders, the eastern panhandle counties were included primarily to keep the B&O in West Virginia and outside of Confederate Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

On Christmas Eve 1852, the last spike was driven on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore and the Ohio River. The event occurred at Rosbys Rock near Moundsville.

December 18, 1842: Senator Nathan B. Scott Born

Dec 18, 2018
Nathan B. Scott quickly amassed a fortune in business and banking. He then moved to nearby Wheeling, where he accumulated even more wealth as president of the Central Glass Company. He also made hefty sums of money in the coal industry
The Humanities Council

Businessman and U.S. Senator Nathan B. Scott was born in Ohio on December 18, 1842. From a meager start as a boy working in a general store, he eventually would become one of the four richest men in West Virginia.

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