Stories abound in Appalachia of ingenious ways
mountain people have used the rich natural bounty or their own sometimes
meager resources to solve the problems of daily life. In earlier
days, log homes constructed according to traditional knowledge instead
of blueprints were sturdy against the natural elements. When mountain
terrain made wagons impractical, wooden sleds were constructed for
bringing in crops. Corn was too bulky a crop to get out easily to
markets, so excess became corn liquor or moonshine, easier to transport
and more profitable. Running moonshine left a legacy of fast driving
and car mechanics that helped fuel today's NASCAR industry.
Scraps of leftover cloth became quilts of great artistry; hogs,
fattened on the natural mast of the forest, turned into meat, sausage,
lard, and even soap; cat and groundhog skins, cigar boxes, and tin
cans were transformed into musical instruments. Old stories and
old tunes took on new locales and new words and sparked the contemporary
country music industry.
The spirit of innovation based on tradition is deeply ingrained
in Appalachian life. Fine chefs serve mountain delicacies in some
of the region's posh resorts. Musicians bring traditional mountain
music to new audiences via the latest technologies. Making do and
doing so creatively represent a powerful Appalachian attitude.