Showing posts with label Appalachia - Upper East TN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appalachia - Upper East TN. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Big Ridge State Park, 2-18-2024: a Walk Down Memory Lane (published 2-20-2024; article #456)


Greetings, to all national and international readers! To national readers, did you enjoy Presidents' Day, yesterday? George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born, on February 22, 1732. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President, was born, on February 12, 1809. The celebration of their birthdays, close together, in February, was combined into Presidents' Day, in 1971, by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established more three-day weekends, for American workers.

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman didn't have to work, in her teaching profession, but she did work, by helping me, with chores, in the house and garage. She also helped detail our 2012 Sentra, after I'd returned, from a nearby car wash. At 4:30 PM, having endured a 30 minute wait, in the lobby, she had a six-month dental cleaning. The dentist's office doesn't need to overbook patients.

On Presidents' Day, ironically, a door-to-door campaigner visited. She was taking a political survey and advocating for Nikki Haley. She asked which candidate will get my vote, in the upcoming Presidential election. I assured her that the current President will not garner my vote, certainly. The former President, who has too much baggage, will not. Nikki Haley could win my vote, but polls don't seem to indicate that she has a chance, in the primary election, against the former President. I am frustrated, not undecided. I'll vote for myself, if I have to do so. As the article, of 1/26/2024, concluded, “Where is the truly Christian constitutional conservative, who can get my vote, in the next presidential election? Could someone please stand up!”

Don't you wish that a candidate, a true states person, in the tradition of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, would run for office? With apology for these personal and political sidetracks, let's walk down memory lane!


On Sunday afternoon, my 2006 Frontier and I went to Big Ridge State Park, in Union County, Tennessee. I didn't take time, for a long hike, but I enjoyed a walk down memory lane, remembering my childhood, in Appalachia. (This article is the 28th entry, under the topic section “Appalachia - Northeast Tennessee,” and the 63rd, under the “hiking” topic section.)

Earlier this month, a young man, Jonah, with whom I've become acquainted recently, had told me that his brother and he planned to participate in an eleven-mile trail race, at the park. The race, hosted by the Knoxville Track Club, started, at 2 PM. I'd told Jonah that I planned to meet his brother and him, to talk a while and to encourage them, before the race started. I'd arrived about 20 minutes early. I looked for Jonah. He wasn't there. I, however, did enjoy watching several runners gather, at the starting line. The signal was given, and off they ran! Jonah and his brother must have changed their plans.

Update, 2/23/2024, Friday: Earlier today, I saw Jonah. His brother and he were there! He was looking for me. They were in the group of runners, who started on a grassy area, near the starting line. Previously, I had walked to that area, but the two men weren't there yet. Jonah told me that his brother and he finished the race. We both regretted that we'd missed each other.

Big Ridge State Park

Big Ridge State Park is a nice park, with magnificent scenery and several good trails. From the house, the shortest route (on highway 33 north, to a left turn, onto highway 61) is about 35 minutes. Nearing the park, on highway 61, the road curves and winds up and down several hills. That's why I don't often hike, at Big Ridge State Park. The road is so curvy, at a couple of turns, that the rear end of my truck met the front end, as we turned! Hiking Big Ridge State Park is encouraged, just be aware of the curvy road that takes you there, if you drive in, from the east! From the house, a longer route, driving highway 441 north, to Norris, then turning east, onto highway 61, is less curvy, but it's about an extra 15-minute drive. You reach the park, driving from the west, and avoid the hairpin curves.

Opening and enlarging the “Park Map Brochure,” in a web browser, identifies the Norris Lake area, camping and boating areas, fishing, swimming, the hiking trails, and several other features. About fifteen miles, in eleven trails, which range from easy to rugged, provide good hiking options. Old cemeteries and remnants of old home sites are along some trails. Three, of the 50, campsites are for backwoods camping (with no water or electric hook ups).

A replica of the Norton Gristmill, once used for milling corn, is in the park. The original mill was built in 1825 and operated until 1930, three years before TVA started construction, on the nearby Norris Dam. A photograph of the gristmill, at a distance, is included, in the next section.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I've been keeping a hiking log, since 4/23/2000. The hike, on Sunday afternoon, was my 244th, in total. It was only my fifth, at Big Ridge State Park. The four previous hikes were on 11/12/2005 (alone), 7/26/2008 (when my wife and our niece, age 20, at the time, joined me), 10/4/2008 (when my wife, our niece, our niece's female friend, and I overnight camped), and 1/5/2012.

I didn't realize, at the time, that I'd not hiked, at Big Ridge State Park, in just over twelve years! During the hike, in January, 2012, I'd found the cabin, which I'd recalled, from my childhood years. I photographed it. I also saw and photographed the deer that were grazing, nearby.

I didn't see any deer, on this hike, but I did find, again, the cabin, in which I'd stayed, back in the late 1960s. I'd taken the photograph, below, at 2:55 PM. The view looks southwest.

The cafetorium, in the distance, is being remodeled. Several cabins are behind me, and several are to the right (north) of and behind the cafetorium. During my grade school years -- in the late 1960s, or possibly in the early 1970s, before 1974 -- a group of us young'uns, boys and girls, from the West View Baptist Church, in Rogersville, Tennessee, attended a church camp, at this location.

I recalled fond memories, of that experience. Several godly adult counselors and the director oversaw our activities, which included meals, devotionals, singing, arts and crafts, skits, sports, and swimming. In an evening devotional, around a camp fire, we sang “Pass It On.” I'd not heard or sung the song before. A choral version is “Pass it On (It Only Takes a Spark), on Frederick Lau (YouTube), 11/12/2018. We sang a capella. The young boy that I was and the older man that I am now were and are inspired, by the deep meaning of the lyrics.

A minute later, I turned around and took the photograph, below. The view looks northeast.

The closest cabin, centered in the image, is the one, in which eight of us boys stayed, back in our grade school days. Several other cabins and a bathhouse are nearby. The cabins are being renovated. I smelled fresh paint. The doors and window screens were not replaced yet.

Shall we walk inside that cabin? Let's do! Walk along with me, as Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube) presents the third episode, under the “Appalachian Heritage” section, titled “Big Ridge State Park, 2-18-2024: a Walk Down Memory Lane (published 2-19-2024; episode 26).” Near the end, of the three-minute and thirty second video, I point out the bunk, where I'd slept. Competition for the cleanest cabin motivated us boys, to pull weeds and sweep grass and dirt, off the entrance steps! I remember it well.

After a fairly brief trek, I took the following two photographs, at 3:17 PM. The first image, facing northwest, shows a walking path sign, with trail directions and distances, the parking area, and my 2006 Frontier.

This was my new, ol' truck's first venture, into the park. He enjoyed the day, despite the hairpin curves.

The next photograph, looking southeast, shows, at a distance, the replica of the Norton Gristmill (mentioned in the previous section). After taking the photograph, I crossed the field, to the mill and walked inside.

I wondered what it was like, when the mill was still in operation, a hundred years ago. I imagined farmers, in their bib overalls, swapping tales, knives, and family stories. Several probably spit tobacco.


My truck and I may decide to take the longer route, to return to Big Ridge State Park! There are still trails to explore! I wonder if Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, our niece, any other family, or any friends will want to join us. An overnight backwoods camping experience would even be nice.

The lyrics, in verse two, of the song “Pass It On,” are:

What a wondrous time is spring,
When all the trees are budding.
The birds begin to sing;
The flowers start their blooming.
That's how it is with God's love,
Once you've experienced it.
You want to sing; it's fresh like spring;
You want to pass it on.

Signs of early spring are noticeable. The freshness of spring is coming. I hope, dear reader, that you know the freshness of God's love! I do. If you don't, then I want to pass it on! Please use the “Contact Form,” to email me, if you would like me to pass it on, to you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

My Bigfoot Story: Yes, It's True (published 10-18-2023; article #435)

Google Maps: 36°26'38.7"N 82°58'55.7"W (Hawkins County, TN). Map data ©2023 Imagery ©2023 CNES / Airbus, Commonwealth of Virginia, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. By embedding this map, you agree to the terms of service.


Greetings, dear reader, and welcome to this 27th article, under the topic section “Appalachia - Upper East TN.” My story is set in the region. Yes, it's a true story. The above citation, from Google Maps, marks the approximate location of the knoll.

The inspiration for this article came to me, on Friday the 13th, 2023, as the next section explains. The context of life was the 2023 Israel-Hamas war, which Hamas started, on 10/7/2023. It's ongoing. This man of peace prays for peace. On that Friday the 13th, the annual Heritage Days Festival started, in my hometown, Rogersville, Tennessee. Also, that evening, the Rogersville High School senior class of 1978 held its 45th reunion (counting the graduation year as our first “reunion”). The reunion was at the Davidson Farm / Country Store, beginning at 6 PM. Once again, the start time was too late, for my wife and me to attend. Finally, thoughts were on my mind, about the birthday, the next day, of our niece -- the youngest daughter of my youngest brother and his wife. She attained age 14. Interestingly, an annular solar eclipse occurred, on her birthday (source: “2023 Annular Eclipse: Where & When,” on NASA).

This is my true story. The article begins with further elaboration on its inspiration. Afterward, my story is presented in written (this article) and verb (the embedded podcast) media formats. The conclusion is up to you, dear reader.

Inspirations for this Article

Initial Inspiration

My good friend, Jim, is mentioned favorably, in the first and second articles, of 10/24/2021. The subject line of Jim's 10/12/2023 email is “'Bigfoot' caught on camera in Colorado?” His email included only a link, with no comments, to the following article: “'Bigfoot' caught on camera during couple's romantic getaway in Colorado: Shannon and Stetson Parker shared videos and pictures that they claim prove Bigfoot's existence” (on Fox News, by Chris Eberhart, 10/12/2023). About halfway into the article, it states:

The pictures and videos from a moving train are the latest blurry visuals that some people claim proves Bigfoot is real.

On Friday the 13th, I read the article, saw the photographs, and watched the videos. That was the initial inspiration for this article.

Childhood Inspirations

Childhood inspirations for this article are at least two. The one minute Patterson film tops the list. I've watched it several times, since my childhood. It's still featured on television shows that are about Bigfoot. Online viewing, of seven frames, is available at “Patterson-Gimlin Film: Original title: Bigfoot,” 1967 (on

Grade school friends and I saw the 1972 movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” at the Roxy Theatre, in my hometown. (The theatre is gone now.) The movie frightened us, especially since we did a lot of backwoods, overnight camping. The official trailer, just under two minutes long, is viewable at The Legend of Boggy Creek” (on Legend of Boggy Creek). (The movie can be purchased on rented, on YouTube.) I had purchased the movie, on DVD, several years ago. My wife and I watch it, about once a year. It still bothers me.

Ongoing Inspirations

The first two ongoing inspirations are the television shows “Finding Bigfoot” (on Animal Planet) and “Expedition Bigfoot” (on Travel Channel). Mrs. Appalachian Irishman seems to enjoy watching the shows with me. She never says, “Not another Bigfoot show!” The remote stops on those shows, whenever I catch them, while browsing through the thousands of channels, with nothing much to watch. The shows are somewhat interesting and don't bother me. The evidence presented is often sketchy.

The rather personal and ongoing inspiration, of course, is my own story. The written version is next. My spoken version follows afterward. It's a true story.

My Written Story

The First Friday

It was a Friday, in late September of 1977, the start of my senior year in high school. The location was in northeast Hawkins County, Tennessee. Bill and Randy, two friends, both my age, lived a few miles away. Those two friends, Bill's younger brother, my younger brother (closest to me in age), and I camped out overnight more times than I can count. We even camped out in winter, after it had snowed. Those were some rather memorable cold nights and mornings!

A buddy named Gary, my age, lived closer by, in the Sunset Hills subdivision. (He passed away, two years ago, at age 61.) Gary had never been overnight camping. He was interested in a young lady, Helen, who lived farther back and near the woods, in the same subdivision. Gary wanted me to take him camping, on the knob that was high above and far behind her house. Apparently, Gary wanted to prove his devotion to the young lady. I had agreed to take Gary overnight camping, on a Friday after school.

The knob was on land that Randy's family owned. Neither Randy nor Bill wanted to camp with Gary and me, but Randy's parents allowed the two of us to overnight camp, on their land.

The early evening weather was mostly cloudy and warm, as Gary and I started hiking up, north, through the woods, to reach the knob. We needed only T-shirts, but we carried light jackets. The ground was dry, since it hadn't rained in days. We hiked up to the ridgeline, which ran west to east. The narrow trail up to the ridgeline had been made, over the years, by Randy's family. We called it the main trail. We'd reached a flat and fairly open spot, on the ridgeline, where Bill, Randy, and I had camped before.

From that ridgeline location, Gary and I continued west (or left) and hiked up a short and steep distance, to reach the knob. At the knob, the mountain sloped sharply down on three sides (to the south, farther west, and north). The short, steep, and narrow trail, from the ridgeline to the knob, had been made by bears, deer, wolves, foxes, and other animals. We called it the animal trail. The Dublins, as locals called the thick and hilly woods, were behind (or northeast) of the ridgeline and knob. Hunters spotted bears, in the Dublins, at times. Bill, Randy, and I had overnight camped in the Dublins before. At night, we thought that we saw deer eyes, near our camp. The next morning, we saw bear tracks, in the damp ground, not far from our campsite.

Dusk began to fall quickly, once we'd reached the knob -- the highest point of the mountain. We started to set up camp, just south of a large tree. The ground was fairly flat there. Nearby, several large rocks protruded from the ground. A large fallen tree was about fifteen yards to the east of and below our campsite. (We'd passed that fallen tree, to reach the campsite.) I had unrolled my sleeping bag. Gary had unrolled my brother's sleeping bag, which he had borrowed. We didn't set up my tent. We put on our light jackets. I got out my cooking kit, the food, and gathered fallen branches, to start the fire. Dry leaves on the ground made good fuel also.

Not long after I'd struck the match and started the kindling, Gary and I both heard the sound.What was that?” -- we both whispered, as we looked, in surprise, at each other. Crouching beside the slowly building fire, we remained silent, listened, and looked around. We could see trees, branches, rocks, and the fallen tree. Darkness had fallen. The moon, still mostly full, would come and go, as the clouds passed by. The moon was behind a cloud, at the time.

We heard loud, deep, gruff, and growling sounds. It was like heavy breathing, being taken between steps, when something large is walking. We could hear footsteps, in long strides, between the sounds. The steps sounded like a two-legged, not four-legged, mammal. At age 17, I had hiked and camped in the woods often enough, to know how a four-legged animal, such as a deer or a cow, sounds, when it's walking or running on dry and leafy ground. The sounds and steps were slowly approaching us, coming up the same trail that we had been on, to arrive at our campsite. We heard what we heard. We could not see what was making those sounds. The entity was still several yards below us and to our east.

The mammal, still breathing gruffly, stopped, about fifteen yards east of and below us, behind the large fallen tree. We could hear whatever it was shaking nearby tree branches or rustling leaves on the ground. The being moved a few feet to the north, which was to our left, as we faced the fallen tree. It was now behind a large rock outcropping. It remained there for a while, still breathing gruffly and shaking nearby branches or rustling leaves.

Gary asked, “What should we do?” I said, “Let's roll up the sleeping backs. I'll pack up the food.” We did. The entity was still behind the rock outcropping, making the gruff sounds, shaking tree branches, and rustling leaves. My backpack always included a small bottle of kerosene, to use to help start a fire, if needed. I had a hunting knife, in a sheath, on my belt. I had already added larger and longer tree limbs, to build up the fire.

The mammal, still making the gruff noises, moved back onto the path, near the fallen tree. We still could not see what it was. The darkness, distance, and several tree branches blocked our view. We could hear it, stepping slowly up and closer to us!

Instinctively, thinking that the being would either kill me or that I would kill it, I poured the kerosene, from the small bottle, onto the fire. That brought up the flames. I took my hunting knife, from the sheath, with my left hand. I picked up the largest burning branch, with my right hand. As the entity, which I still could not see, continued to come up and closer, I jumped forward, into the air, with knife in one hand and fiery branch in the other. I yelled at the top of my lungs! When I landed, about ten feet farther and down from where I'd jumped, I realized that I hadn't died or hit anything.

A steep and deep ravine was below and to our southeast. Gary and I heard, after I'd landed, the entity running, in long strides, on two legs, as it sounded to me, down into that ravine. We could hear tree branches snapping and leaves crunching, as it ran. The being stopped. We couldn't see it. It remained silent. It was no longer making the gruff breathing sounds or shaking anything. The forest turned completely silent.

I whispered to Gary, “Let's get out of here.” Using my flashlight to help us see the trail, Gary and I hiked, with our gear, very quietly and slowly, east and down, to the main ridgeline. I was cupping a hand over the flashlight, so that the light would not be too visible. At the main ridgeline, we turned south (to our right) and headed down, to come out of the woods. The forest was completely quiet. We could hear only our breathing and muffled footsteps, as we hiked slowly and quietly. We didn't speak to each other. The moon had been behind clouds all this time.

Gary and I reached what I call the lower camping spot. It was a small and level clearing, not too far into the woods. Bill, Randy, and I had camped there often. The trail from the ridgeline, down which we had hiked, was now behind (or north) and above us. The ravine, down into which the unknown mammal had run, from the knoll, was just west of us. We wondered if the entity was still there, silently near us. The clouds parted. The nearly full moon shined brightly. We could see better, by the moon light.

I affirm -- to the Good Lord, before Whom I will stand on judgment day, and to you, dear reader -- that Gary and I both saw, far behind and above us, on that ridgeline, where we had been, a tall and bulky figure, standing upright, on two feet. It did not move. We were relieved that it wasn't near us, in the ravine. Cold chills came upon me. We could make out what appeared to be two legs, a large torso, two arms, broad shoulders, and a head. What seemed to be two eyes appeared to glow green. It was not a tree that looked like such a figure, to our frightened imagination. Trees were visible and very distinct, around that figure. The figure was not a tree. It seemed, from that distance, to be staring at us.

Gary and I turned away and hiked south, quickly, back to where his car was parked, near Randy's house. He drove me home. He went home. Mom and Dad were surprised that I'd returned, since they'd expected me back the next morning. I told them what had happened. They were thankful that Gary and I had not been hurt. I went to bed.

The Next Few Days

I don't think that I saw Bill, Randy, or Gary, until the next week, at the high school. Gary and I didn't talk much about our experience in the woods. We did exchange what we remembered. Our memories were identical. Gary said that he'd never go camping again. We lost touch, after high school graduation, and he passed away a couple of years ago, so I don't know if he ever did or didn't.

I'd shared the experience, with Bill and Randy. Bill accepted my words. Randy made fun of it. I challenged them, especially Randy, to camp out, at the flat and fairly open spot, on the ridgeline, where we'd camped before. I did not want to return to that knoll. I've never been back to it.

Bill and Randy agreed that we could camp out that coming Friday, after school, on the ridgeline campsite. We did.

The Next Friday

That next Friday, Bill's younger brother and my younger brother (next to me in age) joined us. There were five of us. Randy brought his pistol. Chidingly, I asked him why he'd brought his pistol, if he didn't believe what I'd told him.

The temperature was still warm enough, so we didn't pitch tents. We built a fire that faced the north slope of the ridgeline. We lined up our five sleeping bags, in a row, fairly near and south of the fire. The knoll was up and to our west (or left), as we faced the fire. No one wanted the spot closest to the knoll. I took it.

The evening camping routine started. We used our cooking kits, to make supper, from the food that we had brought with us. It was some type of beef and bean stew. It was good. We ate well.

In the darkness, we talked and kidded with each other, as teenage boys do. The sky was fairly clear. The moon light was better than the Friday before. We were enjoying another overnight camping trip. Randy, at times, asked me, kiddingly, “where's the creature?”

Suddenly, amidst our conversations, all five of us heard the same loud, deep, gruff, and growling sounds, like heavy breathing, that Gary and I had heard the Friday evening before, on the knoll. The sounds came up from far below us. Whatever was making the sounds was at the bottom of the ravine, down around the steep north side of the ridgeline. We also heard the sounds of tree branches shaking and leaves rattling.

We already had a good fire going. We added more wood. I poured the kerosene, from my small bottle, onto the fire. It looked like a bonfire. We were in a clear area, so we knew that we would not start a forest fire.

The five of us remained silent, as we listened to the growling and branch shaking sounds. Eventually, the sounds stopped. I don't recall how long we had heard them. It was several minutes. We never did hear anything walking, as Gary and I had. We did not hear a howl, on either Friday evening.

We determined that it was safe enough, to spend the night on the ridgeline. Each of us, in turn, took watch, while the others slept. None of the five of us ever heard the disturbing sounds again. It was gone. Randy turned from skeptic to believer. He accepted the story, about the experience that Gary and I had, the last Friday, on the knoll.

Early the next morning, we fixed our breakfast, packed up our gear, and hiked back out, to Randy's house. Our camping group never did camp on the ridgeline again.

As the years went by, I lost contact with Randy. Bill and I keep in touch. He still asks me, at times, if I remember the experience that the five of us had, while camping on the ridgeline, that next Friday. My younger brother and I rarely talk about the experience. When we do, we both remember the same details.

My Verbal Story

Over the decades, I've shared both encounters with family and several friends. I don't seek opportunities to share it. It comes up in conversations. For a week each summer, from 1982 to 1984, I served as a counselor, at Hillbrook Christian Camp, near Knoxville, Tennessee. Occasions arose to tell my story, to several of the boys and adult counselors.

After Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I were married, we served as counselors at Bootheel Youth Camp, near Bloomfield, Missouri. It was one week, each summer, from about 1986 to 1993. Again, as others told their campfire stories, I told my story. From year to year, boys, who had heard my story the previous year, asked me to tell it again.

I don't seek opportunities to tell my story. It bothers me to tell it. I still get cold chills, when I tell it. I've felt cold chills, while writing about it, in this article.

The verbal sharing of my story, on Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts, is “My Bigfoot Story: Yes, It's True (published 10-18-2023; episode 21).” I tell it in a more natural style, than in my written story, above. It's just over 30 minutes long.

I recorded my verbal story, in my home office. I'd wanted to hike House Mountain, to record it from the middle bluff. The weather was seasonably warm and clear, with a crisp blue sky. Molly, our ol' puppy, who is age eight, however, was favoring her left front leg. I decided to remain at home, so that I could tend to her. She seems to be better! She's back to running around as usual.


Thanks, Jim. Your 10/12/2023 email inspired this article and embedded podcast! I'll reply by email, to your email, once this is published, so you can know.

This is my true story. I call it my Bigfoot story, since I don't know what else it could have been. I've thought that it could have been a bear, but bears don't run upright, on two legs. They do stand, on two legs, at times. I've thought that it could have been a large man, who was in the woods, on both Friday evenings. The loud, deep, gruff, and growling sounds could have been a bear, but they didn't sound like any man, whom I've ever heard.

My mind is still open. Sufficient evidence appears to indicate that Bigfoot (Sasquatch, Yeti) may exist. I may have heard one, in a close encounter, and seen it, from a distance -- back in September 1977.

The conclusion is up to you, dear reader. What do you think that it was?

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

How to Pronounce “Appalachian?” This Podcast Helps! (published 9-13-2023; article #430)


Greetings, on this warm and mostly sunny day, in early fall. Meteorological fall started on the first of this month, as always. I don't accept the astronomical beginning of fall, which can vary by three days. This year, it occurs next Saturday. Thank you for dropping by.

By the way, if you are from Singapore, please help me stop those Singapore “bots” (or web spiders) from crawling my website! They increase view totals, but they are not legitimate. I'm trying to stomp the spiders, but they keep crawling.

Around these parts of northeast Tennessee, folks -- who were raised here -- know how to pronounce “Appalachian.” Interlopers, however, who come into this area, legally or illegally, often mispronounce the word. This article -- the 26th entry, under the topic section “Appalachia - Upper East TN -- will, once again, try to educate all interlopers.

After all, this website is called “Appalachian Irishman.” This article wants all readers -- family, friends, national and international viewers, and even enemies (if I have any) -- to pronounce “Appalachian” correctly, as we do, in these parts. Listening to my embedded podcast, below, is crucial!

Important Note

This article explains the pronunciation of “Appalachian,” as folks in northeast Tennessee say it. I know that Appalachia is a huge region. See, for example, “About the Appalachian Region,” on Appalachian Regional Commission ( The first paragraph states:

Appalachia is made up of 423 counties across 13 states and spans 206,000 square miles, from southern New York to northern Mississippi. The Region’s 26.3 million residents live in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and all of West Virginia.

That document includes the following map, “Subregions in Appalachia,” which denotes the five subregions of Appalachia.

Subregions in Appalachia,” in “About the Appalachian Region,” on Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). ARC Web and Privacy Policy, Copyright Information: “the country, state, and regional maps on this website, which were created by ARC employees, are in the public domain and may be used without permission.”

As you can see, northeast Tennessee is in the south central subregion. Don't you just love how “guvrmint” bureaucrats like to divide us folks! Who decided to designate the five subsections? Inquiring minds want to know!

Folks -- in the Appalachian Yankee states of Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- often pronounce “Appalachian” with the soft sound, unlike we do, here in northeast Tennessee. That's their right. It's still a fairly free country -- at least for now. This article does not critique how they say the word. It does, however, critique Appalachian Yankees, when they try to impose their pronunciation on us here! Y'all up north say it how you choose. Honor how we, down here, choose to say it -- even if we visit or move up there!

Previous Articles

This website has made two previous attempts to educate, on how to pronounce “Appalachian.” In fact, the very first article that I published is titled “How to Pronounce 'Appalachian' (published 3/6/2006; inaugural article).” That article, of over 17 years ago, still draws views, almost daily. It's still the most viewed article, on this website, with over 12,540 views, as of 9/12/2023. It has garnered 35 comments, so far. I wrote the article, with my sarcastic tongue placed firmly in my cheek. Notably, the wiser Merriam-Webster Dictionary now defines “Appalachian” as “a native or resident of the Appalachian mountain area.” Seventeen years ago, the definition was “a white native or resident of the Appalachian mountain area.” Did my article motivate those folks to remove the word “white?” I hope so!

The other article, written about three years and nine months after the first, revisited the inaugural article. It's titled “How to Pronounce 'Appalachian' - Revisited (published 12-12-2009; updated 11-20-2022).” The article is my reply to two comments, on the first article. You'd have to find and read those comments, in the first article, to understand the revisited article. As of 9/12/2023, this article has had over 1,755 views.

Those articles include only my written instructions. This article includes the embedded podcast of my verbal guidance.

Two Other Podcasts

Before getting to my podcast, I thought that I'd present podcast instructions, from two other folks. My comments follow each episode.

Yesterday, I searched, on Norton Safe Search and Google, by “How to Pronounce 'Appalachian?'” Each search provided thousands of results. The first result, on both platforms, was: “How to Pronounce Appalachian (2 Correct Ways in American English),” on SpeechModification (YouTube), by Christine Dunbar, 1/27/2022. The episode is two minutes and 36 seconds in length. Yesterday, it had over 14,480 views, with 35 comments. The speaker, in fairness, states that both the hard and soft pronunciations are correct. Her opinion is that the soft pronunciation is the most widely used. (Of course, only the hard pronunciation is correct around here!) Interestingly, Christine Dunbar admits that she's from the Midwest! Early in the episode, she states, incorrectly, that the Appalachian mountains are only in the Southeast. A comment, of two months ago, corrected her error. How could a Midwesterner speak with authority, on how folks, in these parts, pronounce “Appalachia?” Despite appearing somewhat confused, at the end, Christine Dunbar did a good job, explaining the hard and soft pronunciations.

The second result, on both search platforms, was “How To Pronounce Appalachian,” on pronunciationbook (YouTube), 9/14/2011. It's only 10 seconds long. Yesterday, it had over 343,165 views and 279 comments. The male voice nails the way folks, in these parts, pronounce the word! It's short, to the point, and spot on! I like it. It presents only the hard pronunciation.

My Podcast

Drum roll, please! Are you, dear reader, ready to listen to my podcast presentation, of how folks, in northeast Tennessee, say “Appalachian?” I thought so.

On Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube), it is published today! See “How to Pronounce 'Appalachian?' This Podcast Helps! (published 9-13-2023; episode 18).”

The episode is five minutes and 22 seconds in length. My Irish blarney got a bit long winded, as I spoke extemporaneously. If any of y'all know, please explain what a “far tar” is! I've climbed several, over the decades.


If you, dear reader, were raised around these parts of northeast Tennessee, then you know how to pronounce “Appalachian.” If you've moved away, especially into a Yankee state, don't let those folks make fun of how you pronounce the word! Let them pronounce it the way that they do. Just keep saying it, the way that it rolls off your tongue naturally!

To any interlopers -- who have come into this area, legally or illegally -- pronounce “Appalachian” the way that we do in these parts! Don't try to chide us, into saying it the way that you do!

Two previous articles -- on 7/28/2022, about Cades Cove, and on 4/4/2023 -- highlight Donnie Laws. The 4/4/2023 article introduced him, on this website.

Donnie Laws East Tennessee Outdoors (YouTube) is an Appalachian treasure trove of episodes. As of today, he has 705 episodes. Subscribers number 164,000. I highly recommend, as you finish reading this article, that you watch “Appalachia Mountain People Talking and their way of life #Appalachia,” on Donnie Laws East Tennessee Outdoors (YouTube), by Donnie Laws, 2/14/2023. It's just over 20 minutes long. As of today, it's been viewed over 276 thousand times. The episode includes the audio recording of John McCaulley (1880 - 1961), who lived in Cades Cove. Mr. McCaulley and my paternal grandfather were born in the same year.

Well, now that I've peeled “them thar taters,” I reckon that Mrs. Appalachian Irishman is “fixin' ta mash 'em.” Y'all keep turnin' right and goin' straight out there, ya hear?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Synchronous Fireflies Show, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: You're Kidding, Right? (published 4-29-2023; article #408)

5/24/2019 photograph, by Tony Phan, on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


First, they are called lightning bugs -- not fireflies! Blame Mrs. Appalachian Irishman. She had the TV on early this morning, not me this time.

The flexibility of this “public journal and commentary” website is that I don't restrict myself to one topic or to only a few similar topics. That's why “Topic Sections” has twenty categories. I can add or change categories.

Early next month, the plan, Lord willing, is to publish two very serious articles on family and heritage. The articles will honor the recent sorrow and joy, of 4/26/2023, and the sorrow and joy, of 4/30/2023. The articles are in my mind only at this juncture.

Writing this humorous article about Appalachia will lift my spirit, in the context of the recent sorrow and joy. I hope that it lifts the spirits of family. Well, I hope that it brings laughter, to everyone, who reads it.

Firefly Lottery” - You're Kidding, Right?

Let's divide this section into the lightning bug lottery facts and then add a little “you're kidding” humor. Shall we?

The Lottery

I don't really know why the morning TV news is inspiring recent articles, including this one. This is the third article this month! The other two are the articles of 4/19/2023 and 4/25/2023 (the day before the sorrow and joy, of the next day).

I'd completed the routine early morning stretches -- which I do while still in the bed, to unkink my “bionic” body -- from a night's sleep. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, like the good and “long-suffering” wife that she is, was making the weekend breakfast (eggs, biscuits, gravy, bacon, and coffee). Having greeted my wife and enlightened her with my usual Irish blarney, I poured my first cup of coffee. As I walked to my home office, the local morning TV news had a segment on the “synchronous firefly lottery.” I kid you not! I had to pause and watch enough to laugh, before continuing to my office.

In case you think that I'm still joking, the online version of the story is: “Park officials announce synchronous firefly lottery, viewing dates,” on WATE TV, Knoxville, TN, by Melanie Vásquez Russell, posted 4/25/2023, updated 4/27/2023. The article begins by stating:

The dates have been announced for the 2023 viewings of the famous synchronous fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A limited number of park visitors will have the opportunity to watch the “lightning bugs” in their late-spring flash patterns up in the Smokies.

At least “lightning bugs” is in quotation marks! That's what anyone, born and raised in northeast Tennessee, calls them! Only Yankees say “fireflies!” Fact check: meteorological summer starts on June 1st, so the lightning bug show starts in early summer, not late spring!

According to the article, “the lottery system for synchronous firefly viewings” started in 2006 (the same year that my new ol' truck was manufactured). This year, the “viewings” will be June 4th through 11th, eight evenings. Each evening, 120 vehicles are allowed, totaling 960 in eight evenings. Only seven folks are allowed per vehicle. Apparently, the bureaucrats have all the details lined out.

Any Yankees or southerners, who have no sense, may buy a lottery for a vehicle pass -- but only from April 28 at 10 AM to May 1 at 8 PM. It'll cost you a dollar to play the lightning bug viewing lottery game! Time's a wastin'! Better hurry!

The lucky winners of the lightning bug viewing lottery will be notified, on 5/11/2023. Those lucky winners will get a parking pass and have to fork over another $24.00 for a reservation fee. Ain't they goin' to be lucky!

You're Kidding, Right?

Well, that's the facts, such as they are. My sarcastic Irish wit has verbalized its eloquence, every year that the lightning bug show comes around. This time, my wit is in writing!

Who created this money-making racket? Inquiring minds want to know! How can you, dear reader, avoid that scheme? Let me preach on.

If you live in a rural area, with no street lights, just step outside, on any given evening in June. You will see the synchronous lightning bug show -- without cost! Growing up in the country, we watched many such shows, right in our own yard!

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I live in a fairly rural area of northeast Knox County. We have an acre of ground, in a small subdivision. Street lights don't bother the view. We have seen, every year, since 2003, the synchronous lighting bug show -- in our own back yard! It's great! If family and friends come over, then we don't charge them to watch the show! No lottery ticket is required.

If you are a city dweller, then I suggest that you find some country friends, who will invite you to their yard, to watch the lightning bug show! Being country, they won't charge you. I'd suggest that you move out of that city, to a quiet place in the country, of course.

I still wonder who created the money-making racket, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I ain't a betting man, but I'd bet a crisp and fairly worthless dollar bill that other locations are doing the same. They're just taking money from folks, who don't have any common sense, y'all!

The Couch Spring

How did I jump to a couch spring? I guess that it's the debate on meteorological spring (June 1st) versus astronomical spring (June 21st). Last evening, my side of the recliner couch popped a spring.

I took the above photograph this morning. You can't see the missing spring, unless you look hard. This is my work in progress. Yes, my bionic right foot and I pounded asphalt and hard tile, in both the Home Depot and Lowe's. I found a potential replacement spring.

I might just ask a neighbor, who has an automobile restoration shop, to let me use his fancy tools, to make a new hook out of the damaged spring. All it needs is an improvised hook!

Don't worry! I won't spring another couch story on you! Rest assured that, in educated country boy fashion, I'll fix it.


My adoptive sister and I had another good long phone conversation this afternoon. Sis, my wife and I will be there in spirit, on Monday! We plan that visit in June!

Remember, y'all, they are called lightning bugs -- not fireflies!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Response to 'Why Appalachia’s Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots' (published 4-12-2023; article #402)

7/10/2015 photograph, by Zack Spear on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


Greetings, to each international, national, regional, and local reader -- especially to you, dear reader. My hope, in the Lord, is that you are well. By the Gregorian calendar, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) have passed. Иисус воскрес! Воистину, Он воскрес! My brother, next in age to me, attained age 60, on Resurrection Sunday. We enjoyed a good phone conversation. His family and he are doing well enough, thankfully.

On Monday, family remembered my mother-in-law, Phyllis Ann House Gordon (4/10/1941 - 4/30/2017). Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, my father-in-law, her sister, and I disassembled my sister-in-law's bathroom sink faucet. The new faucet assembly required new water line, which we didn't have. That “work in progress” completed today. My mother-in-law would have enjoyed the “fun” on her birthday. The effort, to help my sister-in-law, honored my mother-in-law, whom I look forward to seeing again, where she is now, with the Lord.

This twenty-fourth article, on Appalachia - Upper East TN, is my response to the article of 2/16/2023, on Appalachian History. The excellent website “has been digging up stories, quotes and anecdotes about the region since 2006 . . . with an emphasis on the 1880s - 1950s.” The articles, about one a month, are usually informative, historical, and entertaining. For example, the article, of 4/4/2023, shares an excerpt from an author's book, which is quite interesting! Apparently, a man, thought to have been dead, was not. This article, by no means, critiques the body of work on Appalachian History!

The guest article, of 2/16/2023, however, had raised my Irish dander, when I read it, initially, in late February. I happened to notice it again, while reading the excellent article of 4/4/2023. My Irish dander arose again! This article is how I speak my mind. The conclusion will explain the true source of and solution to problems -- in Appalachia, Oregon, this once great nation, and the world in general.

The 2/16/2023 Article

The guest article that rekindled my Irish dander today is: “Why Appalachia’s Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots,” on Appalachian History, written by Amanda Winstead, published by Dave Tabler, 2/16/2023. The guest writer, as Dave Tabler notes, in his introduction to her, is from Portland, Oregon.

The guest article, of over a thousand words, has five sections: an introduction, “Poverty and the 'Diseases of Despair,'” “The Economics of Addiction,” “The Legacy of Big Tobacco,” and “The Takeaway” (or conclusion). First, I summarize those sections. Then, I state my response and conclusion.

The Introductory Remarks

Properly, the introductory remarks compliment the beauty of the Appalachian region, disapprove of the stereotype of the region's inhabitants, and state, “Appalachian peoples are not more 'prone' to addiction than any other regional, cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic demographic.”

The final paragraph, of the introductory remarks, states the theme of the article:

Addiction in the region has deep, complex, and multigenerational roots. It is a systemic plague that will only be addressed through comprehensive interventions.

Three sections continue the theme. They are as follows.

Poverty and the “Diseases of Despair”

The point, in this section, is that poverty in Appalachia is a root cause “to a lack of access to quality health care,” “uninsured and underinsured” folks, “a dearth of healthcare providers” -- especially “mental health care” and “addiction recovery services.”

Apparently, Appalachia suffers from “diseases of despair” (which links to a 5/31/2021 Forbes article). This is explained as “excessive rates of suicide” and “significantly higher risks for substance use disorders.”

This section embeds links to four other websites, three of which are not noteworthy. One, however, is to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which proclaims itself to be “an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region.” Its mission is “to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.” (Interestingly, the guest writer's notation of poverty in Appalachia does not indicate that the ARC has been doing very well in its mission.)

The section's concluding statement is that a “generational cycle” “continues even when the original catalyst (poverty, lack of healthcare access, etc.) ends.”[C]hildren grow up in a home with substance-abusing grandparents, parents, or siblings. A family legacy of dependency is born.”

The Economics of Addiction

This second section, apparently, attempts to indicate that the economy of Appalachia contributes to alcohol, drug, and especially opioid addiction in the region. It begins by stating:

Farming, especially tobacco farming, and coal mining have long been the principal industries, and one of the few sources of stable work, in the region for generations.

The guest writer theorizes that injuries and illnesses from those dangerous jobs have “been egregiously exploited by the pharmaceutical industry” (or “Big Pharma” as the article states). The exploitation by “Big Pharma,” as the article speculates, caused the “opioid epidemic,” which may have originated in Appalachia.

The Legacy of Big Tobacco

In the third section, the guest writer speculates that tobacco farming “has given rise to generations of smokers and snuff users. From chewing tobacco to cigarettes, tobacco products remain ubiquitous in many parts of Appalachia.”

The section ends with comments on how folks have been turning to e-cigarettes and “vaping” those e-cigarettes. Apparently, according to the guest writer, the government's efforts to control e-cigarettes are driving folks in the region to buy them on the black market.

The Takeaway

The guest writer concludes her article, in one paragraph, by stating:

The story of addiction in Appalachia is far more complex than the stereotype acknowledges. It is a pervasive disorder with deep, systemic roots. It is a pandemic that will only end when, as a nation, we confront the economic, political, medical, and cultural catalysts driving it.

My Response

What is my response? In general, after my Irish dander cooled enough, the guest writer appears to stereotype Appalachia, in a manner similar to the stereotyping done by others, whom she criticizes correctly. I, however, don't think that she realized that she was doing so.

First, was the guest writer born and raised in Appalachia, before moving to Portland? I doubt it. If not, then why, pray tell, did she write a guest article on Appalachia?

Having never been to Portland, Oregon, or even to Oregon, I could write an article titled “Why Oregon's Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots.” Unlike the guest writer, however, I am not that impudent. I did search by that potential article title. I discovered and downloaded the “2020-2025 Oregon Statewide Srategic Plan,” by the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, on Oregon's state government website.

I suggest that the guest writer publish future articles about her “back yard,” not mine. The “2020-2025 Oregon Statewide Strategic Plan,” by my quick glance, shows that Oregon has systemic substance abuse problems -- just as Appalachia does. I am not so impertinent as to publish an article about her “back yard,” while I stay in mine!

Second, the logic of the guest writer argues, incorrectly, that “poverty, lack of healthcare access, etc.” lead to “substance-abusing grandparents, parents, or siblings” that creates a “legacy of dependency.” The writer has committed the logical fallacy of causation, by assuming that the former leads to the latter, without sufficient proof. Correlation does not imply causation.

For example, Mom and Dad raised us four boys on soup beans and taters. As the oldest, I passed down clothes to younger brothers. Doctor Goforth, other doctors, the hospital in town, and hospitals in nearby cities were available. Dad could afford health insurance for us, until the cost became too high to afford. My maternal and paternal grandparents were by no means wealthy. The guest writer, to hear my story, would say that I was raised in poverty or near poverty. Dad was a water well driller. Mom left her job at the telephone company, to raise us boys. We raised garden. We survived well enough.

The “economically challenging” environment of my grandparents, parents, and siblings, however, did not lead to substance abuse! Again, correlation does not imply causation. We, instead, relied on the Bread of Life to sustain us, which He did. Poverty does not, inherently, cause substance abuse.

Third, the guest writer must have gone back in time. Farming, tobacco farming, and coal mining are certainly legacies of Appalachia. They, however, are not -- and have not been for decades -- “principal industries” and “the few sources of stable work” in the region.

The old tobacco warehouses are mostly gone -- replaced by businesses. Farm land has become subdivisions, industrial parks, and office complexes. The Appalachia in the writer's mind existed decades ago. Folks still farm and raise tobacco, often on the side.

My area of Appalachia did not and does not have any noticeable number of coal mines. Apparently, there are no coal mines in Tennessee. For example, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Tennessee, Profile Analysis, Coal (last update, 8/18/2022) reports, “. . . the state no longer produces coal. The state's few mines last produced coal in early 2020.”

Fourth, it appears that the guest writer was running out of vapor, by writing about vaping, near the end of her article. Dad smoked, until he decided to quit. I tried cigarettes, in high school. Dad caught me, bought me a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He said, “I can't tell you not to smoke, son, since I do, but don't hide it.” Dad's eight-grade-educated psychology worked! I never bothered to smoke again! I wonder if folks in Oregon have ever smoked, chewed tobacco, or smoked e-cigarettes.

Finally, the author's “The Takeaway,” or conclusion, offers no solution as to how we, as a nation, can improve the “catalysts,” which are stated. (As an interesting note, the author describes the “story of addiction in Appalachia” as a “pandemic.” I thought that a pandemic was global. Appalachia is a region on the globe.) Don't worry! My conclusion will offer the solution!


The solution to systemic substance abuse -- in Appalachia, Oregon, this once great nation, or the world -- is not found in the United Nations, the federal government, any state government, or any government partnership agency (e.g., the Appalachian Regional Commission). What is my solution?

My solution patterns the inspired apostle Paul. In his first century letter to the church at Ephesus, he wrote (with my emboldening added for emphasis):

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18-20, NIV)

The reading of the entire letter to the Ephesians is encouraged. Ephesians 5:18-20 is a section in the apostle Paul's theme “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1, NIV), which continues to Ephesians 6:20. The theme to live worthy of Christ's calling follows the apostle's eloquent statements of God's grace, in chapters 1-3. This is an inspired statement of causation.

The solution is to be filled with the Spirit of God -- not wine, alcohol, drugs, or any form of immorality. My parents, maternal grandparents, and paternal grandparents were filled with God's Spirit, as their godly lives demonstrated. Despite impoverished or near impoverished conditions – with hard manual labor and limitations on health care and insurance -- my ancestors did not succumb to substance abuse -- since they filled themselves with the Spirit of God. This is my family legacy of faith, in Appalachia.

This article is also my ninety-second on heritage and is written in honor of my paternal grandfather, Marion Ferrell (4/13/1880 - 11/21/1970). Tomorrow will mark the date of his birth, in 1880.

The systemic solution is spiritual. “Dear Lord, as my written prayer, thank you for your grace, the faith of my ancestors, and your gift of grace to me, through Christ Jesus. May all people, in Appalachia, Oregon, this nation, and the world, in free will, accept your everlasting solution of salvation, which frees us from the systemic evils that plague humankind. In Christ's name, I pray. Amen.”