Where There Are Mountains

Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Where There Are Mountains
    Book Description:

    A timely study of change in a complex environment, Where There Are Mountains explores the relationship between human inhabitants of the southern Appalachians and their environment. Incorporating a wide variety of disciplines in the natural and social sciences, the study draws information from several viewpoints and spans more than four hundred years of geological, ecological, anthropological, and historical development in the Appalachian region. The book begins with a description of the indigenous Mississippian culture in 1500 and ends with the destructive effects of industrial logging and dam building during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Donald Edward Davis discusses the degradation of the southern Appalachians on a number of levels, from the general effects of settlement and industry to the extinction of the American chestnut due to blight and logging in the early 1900s. This portrait of environmental destruction is echoed by the human struggle to survive in one of our nation's poorest areas. The farming, livestock raising, dam building, and pearl and logging industries that have gradually destroyed this region have also been the livelihood of the Appalachian people. The author explores the sometimes conflicting needs of humans and nature in the mountains while presenting impressive and comprehensive research on the increasingly threatened environment of the southern Appalachians.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4021-0
    Subjects: History, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1 Apalatchi: NAMING THE MOUNTAINS
    (pp. 1-8)

    Appalachia. The word itself comes from a Native American tribe, the Apalachees, who did not actually live in the southern mountains. By all historical accounts, the Apalachee Indians lived within a forty-square-mile area of the central Florida panhandle, from the western bank of the Aucilla River to the lands just west of the Ochlockonee River. How, then, did the province of the Apalachees become associated with a mountain region four hundred miles to the north? Scholar David Walls credits French artist Jacques Le Moyne, traveling with a Huguenot expedition to Florida in 1564, with first designating the mountain region as...

  6. 2 Mississippia: NATIVE APPALACHIA
    (pp. 9-34)

    When Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto and his army of six hundred men first arrived in the Appalachian Mountains in the spring of 1540, they encountered what to us would be an unimaginable landscape of old-growth timber, impenetrable canebrakes, and deep woodland meadows. They were also the first Europeans to cast their eyes upon the enormous stands of American chestnut trees that once comprised nearly a third of the mountain forest. In noting the great abundance of chestnut trees in the upland forest, a member of the De Soto expedition, the Gentleman of Elvas, provided the first recorded reference to...

  7. 3 Apalachee: SPANISH APPALACHIA
    (pp. 35-56)

    Spanish influence on the Mississippian way of life began early, as the conquistadors were the first to encourage trade in European goods. The Spanish added a variety of material elements to Mississippian culture, distributing among the Mississippians numerous trade items such as iron tools and broadcloth fabrics. As early as 1560, the de Luna expedition, comprised largely of starving Spanish settlers, traded “anything and everything” to the Mississippian peoples of northwestern Georgia. A decade later, the conquistador Juan Pardo was known to have given out more than sixty-one chisels, seventy-seven wedges, seventy-two hatchets, thirty knives, and numerous pieces of fabric...

    (pp. 57-90)

    Despite the fact that important elements of Mississippian life and culture persisted in the mountains for more than a century after initial Spanish contact, by the end of the seventeenth century the Cherokees could claim the vast majority of the southern mountains as their own. By 1700 the territorial boundaries of the Cherokees stretched from the mountains of northern Georgia to southwestern Virginia and from western North Carolina to central Tennessee, an area encompassing more than 70,000 square miles. The Cherokees also claimed much of the land that today comprises the state of Kentucky, although they shared those hunting grounds...

  9. 5 Southwestern Mountains: FRONTIER APPALACHIA
    (pp. 91-122)

    The southern mountains were not settled in a fortnight. It was an incremental process that was infused with Indian massacres, conflicts over land claims, failed crops, inclement weather, and the trials and tribulations of what was perceived by many as a harsh, unforgiving environment. By the early eighteenth century, the territory comprising the original colonies was already in a state of agricultural decline, forcing many residents to look over the Appalachian divide for new homelands. Land prices were rising in the older, more established communities, and this, along with greater population density, made them far less desirable for farming. Indeed,...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 123-160)

    By 1830 frontier settlement had finished in much of the southern mountains. At that time, only the most remote areas of the mountain region could claim little or no human occupancy. After 1800 land settlement and clearance greatly intensified as an increasing number of second- and third-generation settlers began moving deeper into the mountain interior. By 1810 most of the region had a population density of more than six persons per square mile, which, even by Frederick Jackson Turner’s standards, hardly qualified the region as frontier. By the 1820s the Tennessee Valley could claim as many as thirty persons per...

    (pp. 161-198)

    Initiated by the iron merchants and other capitalists during the early part of the nineteenth century, land speculation escalated to new heights in the southern Appalachians after the Civil War. Politicians, businessmen, and prominent journalists promoted the region as a New South mecca, encouraging northern capitalists to exploit the mountains’ remaining mineral and timber reserves. Land was bought sight unseen by many of these wealthy industrialists, often without knowledge of its actual worth or with a specific use in mind. For example, the Southern States Coal, Iron and Land Company, a British firm, purchased all of eastern Tennessee’s Bald Mountain...

  13. 8 Conclusion: NATURE, CULTURE, HISTORY
    (pp. 199-214)

    In writing human history, scholars have largely over-looked the role that nature has played in shaping American life and culture. Their arrogance in exaggerating differences between humans and other organisms, between human history and the natural environment, has created an enormous intellectual gap in our present understanding of the human condition. As William Barrett has forcefully stated, many of those who study and write about our species have done so as if they “were sealed in the privacy of their study, and did not live on a planet surrounded by the vast organic world of animals, plants, insects, and protozoa,...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 215-250)
    (pp. 251-310)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 311-320)