The Big Sandy

The Big Sandy

Copyright Date: 1979
Edition: 1
Pages: 154
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Big Sandy
    Book Description:

    The Big Sandy River and its two main tributaries, the Tug and Levisa forks, drain nearly two million mountainous acres in the easternmost part of Kentucky. For generations, the only practical means of transportation and contact with the outside world was the river, and, asThe Big Sandydemonstrates, steamboats did much to shape the culture of the region. Carol Crowe-Carraco offers an intriguing and readable account of this region's history from the days of the venturesome Long Hunters of the eighteenth century, through the bitter struggles of the Civil War and its aftermath, up to the 1970s, with their uncertain promise of a new prosperity.The Big Sandypictures these changes vividly while showing how the turbulent past of the valley lives on in the region's present.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5024-6
    Subjects: History, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. 1-8)

    With the big sandy River Valley of Kentucky as our destination, B.C. and I left my family’s northeast Georgia home and wound our way up the southern Appalachian chain to Blacksburg, Virginia. While such a route was a roundabout way for two central Kentuckians to reach the eastern section of the commonwealth, we wanted to start out near the headwaters of the Sandy where many of the area’s first explorers and settlers began. Thus Blacksburg, once the Draper’s Meadow where Shawnee captured pioneer heroine Mary Ingles, serves the modern traveler admirably as a jumping-off point.

    To the west and northwest...

    (pp. 9-28)

    Like the ribs in a papaw leaf, the Big Sandy River with its Levisa and Tug forks and tributary creeks veins the easternmost section of Kentucky. The river is both inviting and forbidding, inescapable and beautiful. The spring rains swell it beyond its banks and send it muddy and churning over the countryside. The summer droughts calm it into a drowsy rivulet of lazy green tranquility. The valley of the Sandy is an isolated area. It is penned in on the west and east by rows of rugged hills, guarded on the south by the Cumberland ridge of the Appalachians,...

    (pp. 29-49)

    As the sectional conflict that dominated national politics for more than half a century erupted into the Civil War, Kentucky found herself in an unenviable position. The commonwealth as a border state was bound socially, politically, and economically to both the Union and the Confederacy—“not east, west, north, or south but … pulsing with a little bit of everything.” Unrealistically hoping to avoid being “dark and bloody ground” again, her leaders declared neutrality, but armed conflict was inevitable. Kentucky-born writer Robert Penn Warren called the Civil War America’s only “felt” history, and at no other place was the personal...

    (pp. 50-76)

    The steamboat splashing up and down the Sandy River ushered in a colorful, romantic period in the history of the Big Sandy Valley. From the third decade of the nineteenth century to the eve of World War I, the clear call of the steamboat whistle, the melodious notes of the calliope, the curses of deckhands, and the halloos of packet travelers joined the chorus of voices of the river. Yet the wild, unimproved Big Sandy River contained many perils that made for uncertain and only periodic navigation. In most places the top of the river was extremely near the bottom....

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 77-109)

    The history of the Big Sandy River Valley and that of Kentucky’s bituminous coal industry are irrevocably intertwined. Dirty, dusty coal has both cursed and blessed the commonwealth’s easternmost river basin. While the Big Sandy River itself did not play a major role in the transportation of the “black gold,” the railroad, the river’s successor in moving the coal to market, traversed the region only by following the course of the Sandy and its tributaries. The years 1845-1945, coal’s centennial in the Big Sandy Valley, saw periods of prosperity and adversity—the booms and busts of the industry. After 1910...

    (pp. 110-127)

    The annals of the Big Sandy River Valley since 1945 are in many ways a brief synopsis of the area’s past history. Once again the valley’s natural resources have attracted national attention as the cycle of booms and busts in the coal industry is repeated. The recurring moral concern for Appalachia appeared again in the early 1960s in the form of the New Frontier-Great Society legislation and then faded by the end of the decade.

    In 1973 the country’s interest was revitalized when the Arab oil embargo prompted a strong national emphasis on the development of coal resources. But in...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 128-133)
  12. A Note to the Reader
    (pp. 134-136)