Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

Stalking the Mother Forest: Voices Beneath the Canopy


  1. See E. Lucy Braun, The Eastern Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (New York: MacMillan, 1950), 39-121. (Return to Text)
  2. For further discussion, see Charles Little, The Dying of the Trees (New York: Viking, 1995). (Return to Text)
  3. For instance, Gregg Easterbrook, in a bid for "ecorealism," writes that "North America does appear a great deal different compared with how it must have looked five centuries ago, but what is nature's perspective? At the small scale level upon which most earthly creatures dwell, hardly anything has transpired." "Thinking Like Nature: The Environment in Perspective," Washington Post Magazine, April 9, 1995, p. 19. (Return to Text)
  4. The distinction between the forest as a world to act upon from without and a world to be shaped from within is drawn from Kathleen Stewart's contrast between touristic acts of remembering and the effort of southern West Virginians "exiled" at home to "re-member" what is constantly dismembered. See her "Nostalgia--A Polemic," Cultural Anthropology 3 (1988):227-41. (Return to Text)
  5. For example, in The Southern Appalachian Forests, published by the Department of Agriculture, 1905, a photograph of a forest is captioned: "Timber is a crop." In a recent song sheaf donated to the Archive of Folk Culture, the song "Schenks's Foresteers" celebrates early reforestation efforts in the Cradle of American Forestry. Its chorus (to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) goes "Pinus, Pinus Ponderosa (3x) in Schenks's Foresteers!" Nearly a century later, much that is advertised as sustainable forestry comprises evergreen plantations. See, for instance, the advertisement in the "Outlook" section of the Washington Post, Sunday, June 18, 1995. (Return to Text)
  6. Yellow or "mountain" locust is the local term for what botanists recognize as a subspecies of black locust. In contrast to the black or "field" locust that sprouts in open fields and makes a bad fence, yellow locust is a towering, rot-resistant cove species. While not highly regarded by foresters, yellow locust is prized locally as the wood of choice for fences, barns, mining posts, and an excellent heat source in distilling whiskey. (Return to Text)
  7. Chinquapin here refers to the shrub chestnut, Castanea pumila, not to be confused with the chinquapin oak. (Return to Text)
  8. See John Flynn, "Epidemic: Forest Death Similar to Black Lung in Trees," The Beckley Register-Herald, October 6, 1991; and "Experts: Clean Air Act Not Enough," Amicus Journal, Spring 1991. (Return to Text)
  9. Pat Canterbury, of Naoma, pointed out that, in place of the old "3 R's,"--"Readin, Ritin, and Route 21," which in the 1950s and '60s alluded to outmigration as an imperative for economic survival--a new "3 R's" is making the rounds: "Remove (the mountain top), Remove (the coal), and Replant (the land, usually with grass)." (Return to Text)
  10. Quoted in John Flynn's memo to Orie Loucks, June 16, 1995. (Return to Text)
  11. Charles Briggs discusses historical discourse in Competence and Performance (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988) as a mode of speaking that constructs the past, thinking of history as a symbolic construct that relates past, present, and future.
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  12. Passing the Time in Ballymenone (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981), 652. (Return to Text)
  13. James Jarrell reported to John Flynn that Dickens recently dismissed yet another timber agent with the words, "I'll sell as soon as you have enough horses to pull it all out." Telephone conversation with John Flynn, July 24, 1995. (Return to Text)