How to get home, when the house is no longer there? A new documentary about a small mountain community called Rock Castle Gorge is about a place that has lost its city, but not its history.
âThis is the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive that winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina,â says Beverly Woody.
Woody is a descendant of a mountain community moved in the 1930s, to make way for the construction of one of the great roads of this country, the Blue Ridge Parkway. “But our story is not about the Parkway, but about my people who lived on the land long before the Parkway was built.”
Charlie Thompson is a cultural anthropologist at Duke University, also a descendant, who wrote a book called “Rock Castle Home” which became this short. âGetting to know the people of Rock Castle helps us remember the history, culture and stories that speak of the resilience of the human spirit, underpin almost every place on earth,â he says.
Ann Mitchell Whisnant teaches graduate studies at Duke University. She says when the boardwalk was built in the 1930s, attempts were made to make the boardwalk a tourist attraction rather than an authentic representation of the real Appalachians. âThere is a whole phenomenon of becoming very much in love with a certain mythology about the Appalachians. In particular, the idea that it is somehow a repository of American pioneer values ââand that somehow the old ways have persisted in this weird and strange region of a way they haven’t had in other parts of the country.
Whisnant says that when the boardwalk was constructed, existing modern buildings were sometimes removed and small log cabins were added to the boardwalk layout to showcase the scenery and stereotypes.
âThe wonderful thing about the Parks Service buying this property is that we can go back there,â says Leslie Shelor. “We can go to the cemeteries, we can go to the sites of the houses and show other people, which we could not have done if it had been in private hands.”
Charlie Thompson’s hour-long movie premieres this week at Floyd and next week at Roanoke.