Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Star: An Enduring Beacon

Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Star: An Enduring Beacon

The Roanoke Star, also known as the Mill Mountain Star, is an iconic symbol of Roanoke, VA. Its simple, star-shaped outline is formed by a steel framework and white neon tubing. It’s a striking figure against the backdrop of Mill Mountain. At 88.5 feet tall, it sits 846 feet above Roanoke, VA, dominating the mountaintop. It’s impossible to ignore. The […]

Conquistadors in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Conquistadors in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

The Euro-centric history I learned in school in the 1960s was woefully inadequate. I suppose that’s the best they could do. After all, the world is a big place with lots going on. There was only enough time to cover the Big Picture. That’s why I was shocked to learn, only a few years ago, of Spanish Conquistadors in the […]

Pintos and Cornbread: A Match Made in Comfort Food Heaven

Pintos and Cornbread: A Match Made in Comfort Food Heaven

When it comes to Southern comfort food, there are few combinations as iconic and satisfying as pintos and cornbread. These humble ingredients have been a staple of Southern cooking for generations, providing nourishment and a sense of home to countless families. When cooked properly, pinto beans have a creamy texture and a nutty flavor that harmonizes beautifully with cornbread’s savory, […]

Tales of the Moon-Eyed People

Tales of the Moon-Eyed People

Cherokee legends tell of a short, white, blue-eyed race living in the Blue Ridge and Smokies hundreds of years before Columbus. They called them the Moon-Eyed People. Archaeology, historical records, and other tribal legends support these tales. Are they true? Childhood Threats and Moon-Eyed People Stories and legends of life in the Blue Ridge Mountains were part of my childhood. […]

The Saltville Muck Dam Tragedy

The Saltville Muck Dam Tragedy

Background: The Saltville Muck Dam broke around eight o’clock on Christmas Eve,1924. The dam held back a pond filled with 27 years of chemical waste released by the Mathieson Alkali Works. When the dam broke, a 100-foot-high wall of toxic sludge cascaded down the Holston River, destroying homes and farms, killing 19 people, and rendering the river lifeless for decades. […]

Smoke on the Mountain BBQ Contest Galax

Smoke on the Mountain BBQ Contest Galax

I liked this article about the Smoke on the Mountain BBQ contest in Galax so much that I asked The Daily Yonder for permission to republish it. They generously agreed. It was written by Sara June Jo-Saebo and originally titled ‘Mouthwatering and Divine’: A Reunion over Barbecue in a Small Appalachian Town. It was published in August, 2022. I’m sure […]

Blue Ridge Mountain Moonshine Recipe

Blue Ridge Mountain Moonshine Recipe

They call it that old mountain dew, And them that refuse it are few, You may go ’round the bend, But you’ll come back again, For that good old mountain dew The folks of the Blue Ridge Mountains take their moonshine, aka mountain dew, seriously. Moonshine liquor was always a part of the colonial Virginia culture: just 13 years after […]

The Curse of The Coffin

The Curse of The Coffin

Appalachian Folk Magic The Celtic roots of the Appalachian people run deep. Appalachian folk magic practitioners regarded natural openings like caves, lakes, graves, or a coffin as “thin spots” or portals between heaven and earth, where one can glimpse the spiritual world. In these places, lost spirits might be seen lingering near their graves. Of course, we don’t believe that. […]

Cooking Leather Britches Beans

Cooking Leather Britches Beans

Electricity didn’t reach most parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains until the 1930s. No electricity meant no modern conveniences for food storage, such as refrigerators and freezers. So until a couple of generations ago, food was preserved the old-fashioned way: drying and canning. Drying fruits and vegetables didn’t require canning jars, and drying was a lot less work than canning. […]

Damascus, VA: Trail Town, USA

Damascus, VA: Trail Town, USA

In ancient times, it was said that “all roads led to Rome.” Today, the same might be said of Damascus, VA. Damascus is the Blue Ridge Mountain town where seven recreational trails converge: the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Trans-America National Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail, the Crooked Road Musical Heritage Trail, […]

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