Catherine V. Moore — Writer & Producer

Archive for the ‘Appalachia’ Category

WV Mine Wars Museum Wins NEH Grant

In Announcements, Appalachia, coal, Mine Wars, West Virginia History on August 12, 2017 at 7:10 pm

On August 2, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced that the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is the recipient of a $30,000 challenge grant for The Blair Centennial Project, our long-term plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain in 2021!

The NEH grant committee called the Blair Centennial Project “A bold and collaborative effort to use the humanities to foster cultural tourism and give a challenged community hope for the future through respect for the past.” Read More…

My Latest in CJR

In Appalachia, Nonfiction, Print, Uncategorized on August 12, 2017 at 7:06 pm

AFTER THE 2016 ELECTION, the calls and emails rolled into West Virginia, as the press scrambled to make sense of a place that hadn’t occupied this much space on the national political stage since John F. Kennedy’s 1960 primary.

“We’re looking for a family in a trailer park.”

“We’re looking for a holler. How do we get there?”

“I need a Trump-supporting son of a coal miner who doesn’t think coal is coming back. Do you know one?”

Even before Donald Trump’s election, Appalachia was treated as a kind of Rosetta stone for deciphering rural white poverty in America. Read More…

Best American Essays

In Announcements, Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Nonfiction, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on April 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

The Book of the Dead“—my essay on the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster and the poet Muriel Rukeyser from the Fall 2016 issue of Oxford American—will be included in the The Best American Essays 2017. One of my favorite writers, Leslie Jamison, edited this year’s collection. From the publisher’s listing:

The best-selling essayist Leslie Jamison picks the best essays from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites, bringing her incredible ability to “stitch together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon” (NPR) to the task.

Crackerjack! Preorder your copy

CVM in CJR on WVPB

In Appalachia, coal, Nonfiction on April 1, 2017 at 9:44 am

While public radio stations across the country fret over the threat of federal-level funding cuts, West Virginia Public Broadcasting has its mind on other matters. A state-level proposal to zero out half of its $10 million budget had the network on the defensive this month. In West Virginia, which national media often portray as Trump Country Ground Zero due to its high proportion of Trump voters, you might expect that the rift is ideological. But the $4.6 million cut was proposed by Democratic governor Jim Justice—a billionaire coal operator who coincidentally owes $4.4 million in back taxes to the state—and some Republicans in the legislature have been quick to come to the network’s defense. Read more…

Read “The Book of the Dead”

In Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Multimedia, Photography, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on December 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm
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Above the Hawk’s Nest Dam on the New River. Photo by Lisa Elmaleh.

My longform nonfiction piece about the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster, “The Book of the Dead: In Fayette County, WV, Expanding the Document of Disaster,” is now available online at The Oxford American‘s website. It was originally published in the magazine’s fall issue and recently won a Commendation from the Stack Awards.

My online archive of Hawk’s Nest Tunnel workers, hawksnestnames.org, is a companion project that houses primary source documents and victims’ names.

Finally, check out this “Photographer’s Day Book” feature from The Oxford American, in which Lisa Elmaleh tracks her pursuit of Hawk’s Nest images for the magazine. I’m so thankful to Lisa for making these photos.

“Book of the Dead” Commended by Stack Awards

In Appalachia, Black History, Fayette County, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on October 23, 2016 at 12:22 pm

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The Stack Awards recognize the best work in independent magazines from all over the world. I recently learned that I was short-listed for a Stack Award in Nonfiction for my longform essay, “The Book of the Dead,” published in the Fall 2016 issue of Oxford American. 

The piece explores the history of the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster and how it was documented in poetry by the writer Muriel Rukeyser. It also offers new revelations about the workers who lost their lives in the process of building the tunnel, three quarters of whom were black migratory laborers.

West Virginia-based photographer Lisa Elmaleh was commissioned to provide art for the story. Though the piece is not yet available online, a new website I built archives some of this history: The Book of the Dead: An Archive of Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Workers. 

UPDATE: “The Book of the Dead” was one of two “Commended” finalists. Congrats to The Outpost, which took home the win! Listen to Stack founder Steven Watson talk about the winning and commended pieces in the video below…

Kentucky Hemp in “Yes!” Magazine

In Announcements, Appalachia, Economic Transition, Print on August 30, 2016 at 10:51 am

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At the birth of any industry, uncertainty abounds. So does opportunity, say Kentuckians like Joe Schroeder of Freedom Seed and Feed, who is among those growing industrial hemp and advocating for others in Appalachia to do the same.

“It’s really speculative,” says Schroeder. “But people are making a lot of money, and that money is real.”

But don’t take that talk of money to mean Schroeder is greedy. At a time when the region’s collapsing coal and tobacco industries have left gaping holes in central Appalachia’s economy, at least some of Kentucky’s hemp experimenters want to maximize the benefit to as many local people as possible.

Read more of my story on industrial hemp at Yes! Magazine…

Cedar Grove Radio Documentary

In Announcements, Appalachia, Audio, Black History, Cedar Grove, coal, Economic Transition, Mary Lee Settle, Multimedia, Photography, West Virginia History, Women's History on August 30, 2016 at 10:45 am

Cedar Grove is a story about transition–bridging the past and the future. The hour-long radio documentary reveals surprising hidden histories through the work of renowned novelist Mary Lee Settle and the voices of women from her hometown of Cedar Grove, WV. The piece was co-produced by me, Allegheny Mountain Radio, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Settle is the author of 21 books, including her five volume fictional opus, The Beulah Quintet, which spans two continents and 300 years of Appalachian history. Beulah Land is a fictional place grounded in the reality of Settle’s family homeplace at Cedar Grove, a town in West Virginia struggling amid coal industry decline. West Virginia native Catherine Moore visits Cedar Grove and interviews the “real” residents of Beulah Land, searching for stories of survival and resiliency in the face of enormous challenges.

The scenes and characters that emerge take us through wilderness, Underground Railroad operations, the coal mine wars of the early 20th century, and John F. Kennedy’s visit to the Cedar Grove in 1960.

A collaboration with photographer Roger May also produced a robust visual document of life in present-day Cedar Grove. Original music by Caleb Samples. Funding provided by the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

For audio, photos, and more, visit the project website. 

VICE’s Appalachia Series

In Appalachia, Multimedia, Photography, Print on May 2, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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Dental care is by far the busiest section of the Remote Area Medical clinic. Photo by Stacy Kranitz.

Last year I teamed up with photographer Stacy Kranitz and several other writers from the region to do a series on Appalachia for VICE focusing on the effects of the declining coal industry, the struggle against strip mining, the drug epidemic, the history and meaning of terms like redneck and hillbilly, and systemic problems with health care.  The pieces just went live, including  my piece on Remote Area Medical’s yearly mountaintop mash unit in southwest Virginia.

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It is impossible to avoid the irony of the truck advertising Mountain Dew parked next to the clinic’s dental tent. Photo by Stacy Kranitz.

Two New Projects

In Announcements, Appalachia, Audio, Black History, Cedar Grove, coal, Economic Transition, Fayette County, Mary Lee Settle, Multimedia, Paint Creek, Photography, Uncategorized, West Virginia History, Women's History on February 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

The studio is really humming these days as I prepare to launch TWO new projects this spring…

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.00.59 PMThe Paint Creek Audio History Project is a geo-located series of radio stories featuring the voices of people who live on beautiful Paint Creek, WV. These ten stories became the basis of an audio driving tour delivered via mobile app, as well as a new website for the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association. Look for info soon on a fun launch event we are planning for this spring!

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And, finally, (FINALLY!), I released my hour long radio documentary, Cedar Grove. Drawing from the writing of Mary Lee Settle and a chorus of voices from her hometown of Cedar Grove, WV, I search for a viable future for my home during a time of deep transition. The project includes a beautiful website by Drew Tanner of Odd Boat Studio, featuring a photography collaboration with Roger May. Gibbs Kinderman is the executive producer, the editor is Ben Shapiro. Cedar Grove was co-produced by Allegheny Mountain Radio and West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and me. Air dates coming soon!

These projects would not have been possible without the financial support of The West Virginia Humanities Council, the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, the Fayette County Commission, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.