FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — Hidden History Happenings at the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve helped some folks gain an appreciation for the traditions of Appalachia.
The events at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center on Sunday, September 25, 2022, focused on storytelling and music, two ways people in the region honor Appalachian culture and history. But also two art forms that go back thousands of years, and are still thriving today.
“I’ve heard it said that history never looks like history when you’re living through it. People don’t realize that everything that’s happening to us in our day-to-day really is making the stories of that place,” said Park Ranger Jodi French-Burr. “So hopefully through Hidden History Happenings, we get people thinking about their own stories and hopefully preserving those own stories.”
The music section of Hidden History taught folks about the influence Appalachian culture had on musical styles like country, bluegrass, and even Gospel.
The event showcased the Appalachian musical instruments of today, but also featured older instruments like the Mountain Dulcimer and the Hammered Dulcimer.
“Many Appalachian music styles have been passed down from one generation to the next. It can be anything from banjo, fiddle, or guitar music, to using whatever you can find on hand – an old washboard, some spoons, or just singing with your voice,” said French-Burr.
Like the Appalachian music demonstration, the storytelling workshop focused on the way older generations pass their traditions on to younger generations in the region. That passing down of ideas and stories helps keep the rich culture of the area alive, as well as honor real people from the area.
“The legend of John Henry, that most people know throughout the world, but they didn’t know that it really was based on a real event that happened here in the New River Gorge along the Chesapeake and Ohio railroads in the 1870s. So it was about taking stories and songs like that to get people thinking about their own stories,” said French-Burr.
Every one of us continues writing our own stories in Appalachian history every day.