Saturday, October 6, 2012

O Appalachia, Where Art Thou?

At the rate they're going, it won't be long before Detroit and Omaha are officially listed as part of Appalachia.

The official boundaries of the region served by the Appalachian Regional Commission have always amused me. At one place, there must be close to a hundred miles of the Ohio River where the Ohio side is in Appalachia but the Kentucky side is not. Back in the 1980s, I saw a Corps of Engineers map that showed the boundaries of the "Appalachian geophysical province," and it ended just west of Portsmouth, Ohio. It didn't come anywhere near Elizabethtown, Ky., or Cincinnati.

In one class I had at Ohio University (the Harvard on the Hocking, they call it) back in the 1970s, the professor had us give arguments for whether Appalachia ended at the Ohio River. That is, is Parkersburg in Appalachia but Marietta not? The more I think about it after all these years, especially after marrying someone who grew up near a real southern West Virginia coal camp, I don't know that the core of Appalachia even touches the Ohio River. In some ways, yes. In a lot of ways, no.

The ARC has always been a political tool for funneling federal money to communities whose politicians can get it. Adding Elizabethtown, Ky., and Erie, Pa., to "Appalachia" proves that.


Barry G. said...

E-town Kentucky is definitely not Appalachia -no shape form or fashion. They must have gold and coal confused!

Joe said...

Hardin county, Harlan county, I can see the similarity, in spelling and pronunciation.