Ghosts, Boundaries, and Names

This reading is called “Ghosts, Boundaries, and Names” by John Alexander Williams.  It is about the boundaries of Appalachia and surrounding areas, how they formed, and how they have changed over time.  “…studies of the folk arts or folk artists have concluded that Appalachia is home to a distinctive and important regional variant of American culture.”  This article gives information and multiple examples of how Appalachia has helped influence and form American culture.  At first, the only real distinct landmarks were highways, such as I-81.  I-81 connected the Caroline Piedmont, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and some of Mississippi.  Other less distinct paths such as the Carolina Road allowed people to travel and move around Appalachia.

I-77 was later built, allowing immigrants to expand and explore further.  Max Meadows is right off an I-77 exit and is known as “one of the oldest landmarks” in this area.  The Max Meadows land has fertile soil for farming, large forests, and “ridge-and-valley” provinces that is well known to Appalachia today.  The log house that resides in Max Meadows is said to be “the most enduring symbol of Appalachia” because it shows how important the travelers work and determination to make a life, in addition to the abundant forests, was to the development of Appalachia.

In the areas that are now Appalachia, people were known as “mountain people”, making things for themselves, using their natural resources, and living off the land.  I believe this is a huge characteristic of Appalachia today.  As Appalachia began to take form, it became a huge mining region, causing wealthy companies to buy out the land, and force the Natives living there to leave.  In many instances, the Native Americans claimed hunting lands and refused to let the Europeans settle there, sometimes leading to bloody battles over the land.  Many natives to Appalachian land got moved and forgotten, while white settlers gained all the money and power.

Particularly in my hometown, there are not a whole lot of “ghost” boundaries.  I live in a very well developed town without much open land.  The land that is left, is mostly being developed.  I see the prominence of ghost boundaries in my hometown mostly with small forested areas that have been “claimed” by developers who may want to build on the land.

A big issue addressed in this article is that Appalachia has no real “agreed-upon boundaries”.  This makes it difficult for historians to attempt to look at Appalachia as one region.  Most people agree that the word “Appalachia” usually means in the mountains or highlands, even though a huge part of it goes right through the Great Valley.  Eventually, parts of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were established as Appalachian territory.  While the boundaries and even pronunciation of Appalachia varies all over the country, it is agreed upon that Appalachia represents a very important cultural aspect of America.


“What City Do You Consider to Be the Capital of Appalachia? (commute To, Metro) – General U.S. – Page 3 – City-Data Forum.” What City Do You Consider to Be the Capital of Appalachia? (commute To, Metro) – General U.S. – Page 3 – City-Data Forum. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

Williams, John A. Ghost, Names, and Boundaries. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *