Jessica Hodal is an intern at National Geographic. She graduated in May 2010 from Stetson University with a BS in Geography and a BA in German.
knowledge of their mineral riches was commonplace enough in scientific
and industrial circles, most of the mountaineers had remained blissfully
ignorant of their significance and, frequently, of their very
existence. Few of them had ever burned anything but wood in the huge
fireplaces of their cabins, though in some areas, notably in Perry
County, mountaineers had occasionally dug a hundred bushels or so of
coal and floated it on rafts or flatboats down the Kentucky River for
sale at Richmond or Frankfort. Bell County, too, had been the scene of
considerable small-scale mining. But such operations were primitive and
minuscule and such knowledge of his coal as the plateau dweller may have
possessed had, more often than not, come to him quite by accident
rather than through curiosity and investigation” (Caudill, 1962).
evening in late May, Old Crow Medicine Show’s song “Wagon Wheel” kicked
off my fourteen hour drive to Lexington, Kentucky from DeLand, Florida.
Palm trees and coastline reflected in the rearview, while mountains and
bluegrass beckoned me toward Appalachia. As a child, I spent many
summers visiting my grandmother and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains
with her. Collecting arrowheads, building forest forts, and sliding down
waterfalls are some of my favorite memories from there. Needless to
say, the magnificent landscape and intriguing past of Appalachia holds a
special place in my heart. After receiving word of my acceptance into
the UK/EKU REU: Appalachian Headwaters Program, I was extremely excited
for the experiences that awaited me.