Thursday, December 24, 2009

Podcast Appalachia: Where is Appalachia?


Hello, and welcome to Podcast Appalachia. I’m John Norris Brown.

In this episode, I want to define the geographic boundaries of the Appalachian region. This may sound easy to some, but these boundaries have been drawn and redrawn many times over the years, creating confusion over what is and is not Appalachia. Even today, the boundaries remain fluid and the subject of debate.

In spite of this, there are a few facts everyone can agree one. Obviously, Appalachia is centered around the Appalachian Mountains, but this alone is not the definition of Appalachia. The Appalachians extend far north, into New England and Canada, but no one would consider Canadians to be Appalachian. Some might even be offended by such a notion!

Appalachia is likewise not defined by state boundaries, as no single state is located entirely within the region, with the exception of West Virginia. Instead, Appalachia is comprised of portions of various states.

Over the years, numerous attempts to define the region have led to various definitions, but these definitions usually include the mountainous regions of Northern Georgia, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and West Virginia.

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Note: This is the last in a series of three MHS Blog entries taken from Podcast Appalachia, which should not be confused with Dave Tabler's weekly podcasts based on his outstanding Appalachian History blog. This particular episode explains something which has puzzled me, why the boundaries of Appalachia as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission are so peculiar, including many counties nowhere near Appalachia while excluding some counties clearly in Appalachia. As might be suspected, it involves politics.

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