Catherine V. Moore — Print & Radio




O Beulah Land,” Oxford American, Summer 2014

Where do “rednecks” really come from?” Yes! Magazine, May 2015

Inside a Life-Saving Rural Clinic in Appalachia” VICE, April 2016

Can Industrial Hemp Save Kentucky’s Small Farms?” Yes! Magazine, July 2016

The Book of the Dead,” Oxford American, Fall 2016

In West Virginia, a state financial crisis poses the greatest threat to public media” Columbia Journalism Review, March 2017



Cedar Grove is a story about transition–bridging the past and the future. The hour-long radio documentary features stories from West Virginia’s history, the work of renowned novelist Mary Lee Settle, and the voices of people from her hometown of Cedar Grove.

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.


Excerpt from “Moving On But No Way Gone: Coal in America,” A 30-minute radio documentary commissioned by High Plains News airing nationally in spring 2015.

Since the days when mules carted coal and miners were paid in company credit, coal has certainly been king in Central Appalachia. But now, in a trend not widely noted outside the region, far fewer people make a living in mining there. West Virginia, for example, had 132,000 miners in 1950. Today there are fewer than 20,000, and that number is falling. Nearly every day, Appalachians awake to news of mass layoffs and mine closures.

It’s no one thing. There is cheap and newly-abundant natural gas. Limits on coal-burning power plants. Increased competition from Wyoming, where coal is cheaper to mine and lower in polluting sulfur. And finally, after over 100 years of intensive mining, Appalachia’s coal seams are simply becoming mined out.

Producer Catherine Moore has witnessed this moment. She travelled the back roads of West Virginia from county to county, like Logan, where about 130 laid off miners from Patriot Coal gathered with their families for an emergency meeting held by the state’s workforce development program. Each miner was given a booklet called Surviving a Layoff. Inside, how to write a resume, give a good interview. But something else caught Catherine up short.


Boone County, WV, has lost more coal mining jobs than any other county in the nation, according to a recent analysis by SNL Financial–that’s a fifth of the county’s total labor force. Reporter Catherine Moore went in search for the human side of these staggering figures at the WV Coal Festival, held every year at the end of June in Madison. She talked to residents about how the layoffs are affecting everyday life in Boone County, and how they’re thinking about the future of their home.


A sample from the Paint Creek Audio History Tour–a collection of tales about a storied place called Paint Creek, WV, from the voices of people who live along its banks. The history tour is available via a GPS-activated mobile app by i-Treks which can be downloaded on the project website. The project is supported by the WV Humanities Council and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.

In this segment, Pax native Howard Hughes–one of the founders and leaders of the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association–tells of the bane of his youthful existence. Howard’s great-great grandfather, a surveyor, founded Pax. Howard’s grandfather was an accomplished stone mason who built many beautiful structures still standing today. His father was a hard-working coal miner who helped fuel American industry during WWII. And Howard, well, Howard built something too.

Produced by Catherine Moore & Jessie Wright-Mendoza. Edited by Catherine Moore.



The Soul of a Company Store: The Haunted History of Whipple, WV, originally aired on WV Public Radio

Built during a time of labor strife in the southern coalfields, the Whipple Company Store in Fayette County is one of those buildings that just LOOKS haunted. Every Halloween, the owners offer haunted history tours full of history, folklore, and ghost stories. Producer Catherine Moore set out to do a fun piece about the reported paranormal activity at the store with a couple of local ghost hunters. Well, she got more than she bargained for and found out that there’s a lot more to the so-called hauntings, and to the history of the store, than meets the eye.


The River Road of Sand, A 3-part series on the history of batteaux (flat-bottomed wooden boats) in the New River Gorge for West Virginia Public Radio, about 20 minutes of listening in all.

PART 1: Today we hear a story about the man who put the Marshall in Marshall University. Chief Justice John Marshall, that is. Two hundred years ago this September, he, along with a group of elite commissioners and a crew of hard-working boatmen, set off on a river expedition to survey a canal route over the Allegheny Mountains. Their month-long journey took them from Lynchburg, VA, all the way to Kanawha Falls in present day Fayette County, WV. This year, a crew from Virginia retraced that route on a boat they built themselves, called a bateau. Their long, flat-bottomed wooden boat, The Mary Marshall, is similar to those poled by boatmen up and down the waterways of western Virginia during Marshall’s era, and all the way into the 1920s. Before the interstate, before the railroad, there was the bateau.

PART 2: This year marks the 200th anniversary of Chief Justice John Marshall’s river expedition to survey a canal route over the Allegheny mountains. The boat that took he and his crew through the wilds of western Virginia was called a bateau — a flat-bottomed wooden boat like a long, skinny barge that could carry lots of cargo. We know that the men who labored to pole Marshall’s batteau up river were black, as were most batteaumen. Yesterday, we heard about a group of Virginians who built a bateau of their own to retrace Marshall’s 1812 journey. In this installment of a 3-part series, “The River Road of Sand,” producer Catherine Moore talks to one Hinton native with a deep and personal interest in the history of bateau, and in the process learns more about the labor realities that made these boats run.

PART 3: Sometimes all it takes is an anniversary to remind us of a long-forgotten piece of our history. Sometimes it takes an anniversary, and a crazy idea. In September of 1812, a 57-year-old Chief Justice John Marshall headed into the wilderness of western Virginia to survey a canal over the mountains to the Ohio River. This year, a group of young Virginians under Captain Andrew Shaw retraced Marshall’s journey in a long flatbottomed wooden boat, called a bateau, that they built themselves. In part 3 of our series on the history bateau in West Virginia, The River Road of Sand, producer Catherine Moore learns more about what happened after Marshall’s survey but before the New River Gorge became a center for whitewater recreation. Special thanks to Squirrel, a raft guide among raft guides, who saved this piece by having double-AA batteries lowered into the New River in a bucket.


The Many Stories of Blair Mountain, originally aired on West Virginia Public Radio

Back in 1921, 10,000 coal miners converged on Blair Mountain, WV, and fought a battle against coal company mercenaries to claim the right to join a union. The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest civil uprising in US history, aside from the Civil War. Today, the mountain and surrounding area is threatened by a form of coal mining called mountaintop removal. In June of 2011, a coalition of labor and environmental groups made their stand there, just as it was 90 years ago. In this 10-minute radio documentary, you’ll hear from an archaeologist who studies the mountain; organizers planning the mass march; and union miners fighting to preserve the mountain.

and Walk Beside Me: The March on Blair Mountain, originally aired on WMMT Appalshop Radio

A 10-minute audio documentary following up on June’s fifty mile March on Blair Mountain, featuring interviews with locals and participants, as well as music from the march.


West Virginia By Any Other Name, originally aired on West Virginia Public Radio

West Virginia? We may as well have been named Virginia, Jr. What if we had been called Vandalia? Allegheny? Or Kanawha? This feature explores how West Virginia got its name.

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Remembering 40 Years of Blackwater, originally aired on Mountain News & World Report, WMMT Appalshop Radio

In 1972, 125 people died in Logan County, WV, when a coal waste dam failed and millions of gallons of coal slurry ravaged 16 communities along Buffalo Creek in a matter of hours. Today, a West Virginia-based group called the Sludge Safety Project says it’s concerned about the impacts of coal slurry that take years instead of hours to show up in communities. Coal slurry is the bi-product of coal being washed for market and contains toxic heavy metals and chemicals.


The following originally aired on BackStorywith huge debt to Tony Field, & of course, The History Guys: Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh.

The Things They Carried: The 1918 Flu in Philadelphia

“BackStory” contributor Catherine Moore tells the story of how soldiers returning from World War I brought the Spanish flu back with them. Listen to the piece. Listen to the whole segment. Hear the whole show, “Contagion: Responding to Infectious Disease,” here.

The Census Taker

Hear about urbanization and the 1920 Census, through the haunted eyes of Robert Frost’s poem, “The Census Taker.”

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Heart of the Stranger that Hovered Near

We don’t think of Civil War hospitals as the most poetic of places, given the realities of 19th century medicine and the war’s high casualty rates. But the poet Walt Whitman spent five years of his life in them, caring for wounded soldiers. He wrote that “The expression of American personality through this war is not to be looked for in the great campaign and the battle-fights. It is to be looked for in the hospitals, among the wounded.” In this special “Civil War 150th” podcast, The Good Grey Poet’s Civil War memoirs, diary entries, and poetry tell the story of his encounter with America’s wounded.

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The Ice King

The story of Frederic Tudor, the “Ice King,” who made his fortune harvesting and shipping New England ice all over the world,  helping establish the American idea of comfort in the process.

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Health Care in the New World

A visit to Mt. Malado, the first English style “hospital” in the Virginias, to talk about how the “public plan” played out for colonists.

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Justice on Horseback

Long before The People’s Court, there was circuit riding. In the earliest days of the Supreme Court, Justices risked life and limb to bring their federal authority to America’s hinterlands. In the process, they would help bind together a new nation. Helping tell the story are historians Maeva Marcus and 18th Century Guy Peter Onuf.

Faith & Science: The films of Irwin Moon

In 1925, religion and science battled it out in the Scopes Trial. But for evangelism to remain relevant in a scientific age, Moody Bible Institute’s resident preacher/pseudo-scientist/filmmaker, Irwin Moon, knew they had to make peace.

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Virgins and Porpoises, or, George Washington’s Inaugural Parade

The year was 1789 and George Washington had just been elected president. No one had really planned an inaugural parade, but George Washington only got a few miles beyond Mount Vernon before the parade came to him…

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What’s Next, WV?: A multimedia series on the economic future of West Virginiafeaturing stories from five communities across the state that are trying to build a more prosperous economic future. This series was published through a partnership between West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the WV Center for Civic Life, and the WV Community Development Hub. Here are two sample videos:


Wisconsin Death Trip Revisited 

Back in 1967, author and historian Michael Lesy stumbled across a collection of late-19th century photographs taken in a small town in Wisconsin called Black River Falls. Intrigued by what he saw, he started reading the town newspapers from the same period. Artfully arranging the photos and newspaper fragments in sequences, Lesy published them under the title “Wisconsin Death Trip” in 1973. This audio slide show includes an interview with Lesy and images from the book, in addition to other images of Victorian post-mortem photography.