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Dry Fork #3 Tunnel between Bandy and Amonate. I love seeing this tunnel for some reason I really can't explain. Some of my favorite people come from this area - the heart of coal country.- Shane

This might be a good time to remind folks of our other social media accounts:

Instagram = the_appalachian_project
My personal Instagram = shane.simmons.545
Twitter = AppalachianPro1

#appalachia #coal #tunnel #railroad #train
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Born and raised in Pound and Clintwood, never knew this, but is very interesting, I'll stop next time and spend some time there. ...

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A quick drive in the snow and a public service announcement. ...

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I always enjoy a good local story and try to share a few of those here on TAP as I stumble onto them. One such tale is the story of the “Varmint of Burke's Garden” that dates back to the 1950s in Tazewell County, Virginia. The reason this story jumped out at me was due to the fact that I once knew a varmint from Burke's Garden back in my (very brief, thank God) loan collecting days. The scallywag (I try to use that word whenever I get the chance, I just like the sound of it) had gone severely delinquent on his truck loan and made off with an old Chevy he had kept hidden for a good while by using a “Farm Use” tag. We finally tracked him down and recovered the truck after much chase and trickery. We went so far as to have a guy hide under some leaves behind a tree stump to jump in the truck and take off with it while we had his attention diverted. The plan worked to perfection and that is enough about that varmint, this story is about THE Varmint of Burke's Garden…

The Burke's Garden Varmint was a wild creature that roamed Burke's Garden back in the 1950s that decimated the local livestock numbers. He is said to have killed well over 400 sheep in his nearly year-long reign of terror. Local residents were at a loss to stop the predator and were unsure as to what it was that was doing so much damage (estimated at over $32,000 worth in total). Traps and other attempts to stop the killer were futile.

The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors decided to contract with an experienced big-game hunter from Arizona, Clell Lee, to track down the menace. Lee arrived to a lukewarm reception from the local community but went about his business of finding out what had been the source of so much destruction. He soon discovered a track located inside a block of ice that indicated it was the work of a large coyote. The finding was quite surprising to local residents as there hadn’t been a coyote sighting in the area before.

Lee’s trained dogs soon picked up the scent of the coyote and the hunt began. Lee, along with the sheriff and other local residents, headed out to find the animal and put an end its killing spree. The first night ended without finding the coyote but Lee insisted they start back out again the next morning at daybreak. The decision was somewhat controversial as the following morning was a Sunday and local citizens had always held that was a day of rest and going to church, not suitable for hunting.

The dogs soon found the scent of the coyote that morning and gave chase in a hunt that lasted for several hours. Finally, in a scene fitting for an old western movie, the coyote was found and shot dead in the Joe Moss Cemetery by a Burke's Garden resident named Alfred Jones. As you might expect, the coyote wasn’t given a proper burial despite meeting his Waterloo in a cemetery. The Varmint was found to weigh in at 35 pounds and 4 ½ feet in length with fangs extending for a full inch.

The coyote was then hung from a tree just outside the local courthouse where it was held on display for a good while with an estimated 7,500 people coming to view its body. A celebration dinner was held in Clell Lee’s honor and he was quite the local celebrity. The Burke's Garden Varmint was stuffed and now resides on display inside the Crab Orchard Museum in Tazewell, Virginia.

As for that other varmint from Burke's Garden, I saw him not too long ago and he is alive and well – not that I want him shot or anything. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that he was still creating mischief in the area… Shane

(Photo by Justin van Dyke)
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Winter is a complicated time of year for me. On one hand, it can be so beautiful and serene like the landscape in this picture I took one day on a drive along backroads. At its worst, it can be a cold and dark time filled with dangers on almost every turn. Winter can be wildly unpredictable and makes you realize how little control you truly have of the things in the world around you. You can either greet that with a sense of dread or you can embrace it as part of life's colorful journey. I've come to realize that worry and dread seldom change the outcome in my life so I have decided to appreciate the beautiful things for the little while they last then keep moving forward. - Shane ...

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A few years ago I spoke with a gentleman that grew up in the 1940's in Buchanan County, VA. He stated that him and his family often took advantage of cold winters by utilizing the freezing temperatures. Frozen rivers often made travel much more convenient in the mountain areas shortening long walks. He said he distinctly remembers attending a neighboring church every time the river froze because the commute was so much easier than walking to the nearest bridge.

These days the ice gets very little foot traffic minus my daughter and I playing around on the edges. I'm familiar with this part of the river well enough to know the shallow safe spots and the thickness of the ice. I took these pictures of the nearly frozen Russell Fork River a couple days ago near Haysi, VA. There were several places where the ice was so clear you can see the bottom of the river as well as the thickness of the ice. Have you ever played on a frozen pond or river? -Jason
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Last load of laundry. ❤️ ...

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The first day of 2018 is upon us and with the New Year comes an old tradition that many of you are familiar with already. It is customary throughout the South and much of Appalachia to eat black-eyed peas and greens (either collard, mustard, or turnip) for good luck and prosperity. There are a few variations to this practice as some say you need to include a pork product in cooking the peas while others say it needs to be served with cornbread.

The practice in the South supposedly dates back to the Civil War when the troops of Union General Willam T. Sherman pillaged and plundered many areas of the South on his march to Atlanta. Sherman's troops thought they took or destroyed all of the usable food but left behind the black-eyed peas unaware of their nutritional value. The Southern people ate the black-eyes peas to make it through the winter months and began to see the peas as a sign of good luck.

Many participants in this tradition say that you need to eat exactly 365 peas to ensure good luck throughout the year. If you come up short of 365 you will not have good fortune on an equal number of days in the year. If you eat more than 365 it will subtract your days with good luck by an equal amount to the number you go over.

The peas themselves are said by some to represent coins while the greens stand for the "green" in dollar bills. People who add cornbread to the meal do so in the belief that it signifies gold. The pork is added for multiple reasons - pigs have long been seen as a sign of health and wealth in the South. Pigs also are known for their inability to turn their head around fully to look backward so some say it means they are always looking ahead to the future.

Add all the ingredients together and it makes for a tasty meal that I participated in for the first time four years ago. I look forward to eating them again this year but I plan to eat a lot more greens this year - whether I like them or not... - Shane

*We wish you all a very Happy New Year and want to thank you once again for supporting TAP's page. Your comments, likes, shares, messages and feedback helped to make 2017 a great year and 2018 hopes to see more of the same - they are greatly appreciated.*
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We hope everyone is having a blessed time with family and loved ones during this holiday season. Your support throughout the past year is the best gift we could have asked for at TAP and we appreciate you. Merry Christmas to all! - Shane ...

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Church Circle in Kingsport, TN. ...

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I'm sharing this from a page of mine, 'To the memory of the men of the 551st PIB'. I visited some Appalachian heroes today and thought it would be appropriate to share a little of their incredible stories here. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Anyway, I grew up in Lebanon, VA then joined the Navy in 2000, a few years after graduating E&H. - Eric

www.facebook.com/551stPIB/videos/825247227683825/
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Merry Christmas from the beautiful mountains of Appalachia in SW Virginia...this project was a little more challenging than I had envisioned, but I did my best under the circumstances trying to beat the weather... I hope you enjoy the video. Also, at the end I misspeak a few times calling the 504th the 554th, I say that up front in order to try and avoid some confusion.

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Born and raised in Harlan County.
Bob’s Creek,Cawood and Three Point.
My daddy died at home when we live at Three Point. I was 12 years old.
Mommy Moved to Cawood after he died. Then moved to Ohio.
Go Bach Home every now and then, sure do miss my hometown.
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A rainy December evening in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Unfortunately, I can't control the weather but it is always good to see the Christmas decorations light up the town. Gatlinburg has really bounced back from the horrific forest fires from last year that caused so much damage and took precious lives. So many people donated time, money and energy to rebuild this historic piece of Appalachia and it is good to see it rebound. Thest thing you can do to support the town now is to come out to spend some money and have yourself some fun while you're at it. - Shane ...

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Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville is a taste of Appalachian music with Abby the Spoon Lady and Chris Rodrigues. (feel free to re-post) #asheville #blueridgeparkway www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMCuTE3Kbe0 ...

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It is by no means a great work of photography but I absolutely love this picture. For me, it captures the essence of snowy wintertime in the mountains. The snowfall always makes the world seem so quiet and peaceful as it slowly drifts to the ground.

I remember getting out of my car and embracing the moment by breathing in the cold air. The only sound I could hear was the occasional gust of wind as the snow just kept falling and falling. It was late in the evening and almost too dark to even take a picture but, thankfully, I got a few just in time.

I felt such a sense of peace and belonging despite being there all alone. It was striking at the time because I had just gotten back from a business trip to New York City just a couple months earlier. While I was walking the streets of New York, I can honestly say that despite being surrounded by people on every corner I have never felt more lonely in my life. It was a stark reminder of the difference in meaning between being lonely and being alone.

I also love seeing the train tracks fold around the bend, it adds an air of mystery and intrigue. I always imagine where they lead and all the miles of scenery they cover on their route. The sound of a train rumbling down the line with the occasional screeching noise coming from the metal of the tracks is such a strong memory from my youth.

I wasn't there more than five minutes yet the impression it made in my mind seems indelible. It is funny how the memory of something so simple and seemingly inconsequential can linger with you. - Shane
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Appalachian tradition ...

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One uniquely Appalachian food concoction from days gone by is a layer cake known as the stack cake or apple stack cake. You don't see them very often anymore but they were once a staple of holidays and celebrations throughout Appalachia. We had a special request to do this post and are happy to oblige.

The layers of a stack cake are made from a mix using standard ingredients such as flour, eggs, and buttermilk. Often, sorghum molasses is used as a sweetener instead of refined sugar. Each layer of the cake is made in a similar size and appearance to a pancake. As each finished layer is placed on the cake plate, the cook will then use apple butter or a similar, usually apple-based, substitute to spread on top to get ready for the next layer until the final layer is placed on top. A finished stack cake usually has between 6 and 8 layers to it.

Long ago, stack cakes were often used for marrying couples in Appalachia as a substitute for a more traditional (and more expensive) wedding cake. Friends and family would each come bringing a layer to help build up the stack. The bride's family would then spread the apple butter between each layer as the stack was built up. It was said that the popularity of the couple could be determined by the height of the finished cake - the more friends and family attending the wedding led to a larger cake.

My mother has made many a stack cake in my lifetime and I would rank them near the top of my list of favorite desserts. They are not overly sweet so you can quickly overindulge before you know it (trust me). Christmas is a great time to make one for family so hopefully this post will help some of you feed the army of people invading your home. - Shane Simmons

Have you enjoyed a slice or made one of these stack cakes? I posted pics of a couple recipes but they might be hard to read so I will post another in the comments below.
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Recently stopped at the Bartley, WV memorial where 51 miners were honored. Needs to be moved farther back from the road-extremely dangerous. Parking access also a problem. My Uncle Stanley was one of the miners killed. Contacted a WV television station but guess they were more concerned about getting Confederate statues torn down. ...

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Today, December 6th is National Miner's Day and was created to honor the brave men and women who toiled long, hard hours to feed their families and provide energy for our country. We at TAP salute you all and thank you for doing an all-too-often thankless job. We want to also remember and honor those who lost their lives in one of the world's most dangerous professions. It is a true honor to represent an area where the people often live hard lives for not enough reward or acclaim. I couldn't be more proud to be from coal country and wouldn't trade our people for any other in the world. - Shane ...

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