‘Taj Mahal of Appalachia’ — West Virginia’s Hare Krishna Temple Named To National Register of Historic Places Has Crazy, Fascinating History– Known for Drugs and Murder in 1980s

A Hare Krishna temple in the hills of West Virginia? When people see Moundsville (which you can here), the Palace of Gold at New Vrindaban always surprises. Last week it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Hare Krishna site, a few miles from downtown Moundsville, is one of the more extraordinary you’llContinue reading “‘Taj Mahal of Appalachia’ — West Virginia’s Hare Krishna Temple Named To National Register of Historic Places Has Crazy, Fascinating History– Known for Drugs and Murder in 1980s”

Why Lady Gaga in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Musical Would Be Perfect Homage to West Virginia/Appalachia Roots

The news that Lady Gaga is being considered for the role of Audrey in a new Hollywood remake of Little Shop of Horrors should delight her fans in West Virginia. (A quick reminder: Gaga’s mom Cynthia Bissett grew up in Glen Dale, Moundsville’s adjacent twin town. You can still watch our film Moundsville here.) Little Shop isContinue reading “Why Lady Gaga in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Musical Would Be Perfect Homage to West Virginia/Appalachia Roots”

Review: Ancient America: 50 U.S. Sites To Discover American Antiquity — Rock Art, Cliff Dwellings, Mounds, Campsites, From Ice Age to Spice Age

The United States is 241 years old, resting on ancient land. We argue about who gets to live here now, but it’s a fact that the first settlers walked from Asia into America, across a land bridge, at least 13,000 years ago. After that: thousands of years of rise-fall civilizations, trade, tribes, travel. And us.Continue reading “Review: Ancient America: 50 U.S. Sites To Discover American Antiquity — Rock Art, Cliff Dwellings, Mounds, Campsites, From Ice Age to Spice Age”

American Shakespeare: Historical Memory and the Genius of August Wilson

Making Moundsville (available here for $3.99) got me thinking about place and people, and how their relationship makes this thing we call history. Last night, on a blustery September evening in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, I saw a masterful piece of theatre that weaves these themes together. August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean by the Pittsburgh Playwrights TheatreContinue reading “American Shakespeare: Historical Memory and the Genius of August Wilson”

American Cathedrals: Why We Should Treasure, Protect (and Visit) Native American Mounds — “Sacred centers of their communities, like Notre Dame for the French.”

It was the promise of a Native American burial mound that pulled me off I-70 in 2013 while I was reporting a story in West Virginia for The Wall Street Journal. Grave Creek Mound, 69 feet high, 2,200 old, in Moundsville, WV, on the left bank of the Ohio river as it snakes from PittsburghContinue reading “American Cathedrals: Why We Should Treasure, Protect (and Visit) Native American Mounds — “Sacred centers of their communities, like Notre Dame for the French.””

Can a New Factory Save an Old Town? Moundsville Awaits Plastic-Making ‘Cracker’ Plant

One future path that came up when we were reporting and shooting our movie (which you can watch for $3.99 here) was the possible construction of a so-called “cracker” plant in Ohio across the river from Moundsville. People like mayor Phil Remke say it could revitalize the town, creating thousands of high-paying to jobs toContinue reading “Can a New Factory Save an Old Town? Moundsville Awaits Plastic-Making ‘Cracker’ Plant”

Brad Paisley is the Proudest West Virginian — Country Star Shares State, Small Town Roots With Lady Gaga — Putting WV On Everything: “Pitt Fans Aren’t Happy”

Lady Gaga isn’t the only celebrity with roots in the Moundsville, WV area, subject of our documentary about a classic American town, which you can still rent for $3.99 here. Amazingly, with a population of only 1.8 million, West Virginia can claim the roots of two of the biggest musical superstars on the planet. DrivingContinue reading “Brad Paisley is the Proudest West Virginian — Country Star Shares State, Small Town Roots With Lady Gaga — Putting WV On Everything: “Pitt Fans Aren’t Happy””

Rise of a Christian Ghost Hunter: The Amazing Story of West Virginia’s Steve Hummel, Star of Paranormal Quest

Steve Hummel, 36, is a West Virginia artist, museum director, paranormal investigator and archivist, filmmaker and tour guide. His museum Archives of the Afterlife is one of Moundsville, WV’s top tourist attractions, with 292 reviews and 5 stars on Tripadvisor. Steve’s also one of the stars of the Youtube channel Paranormal Quest which investigates theContinue reading “Rise of a Christian Ghost Hunter: The Amazing Story of West Virginia’s Steve Hummel, Star of Paranormal Quest”

“Good Journalism Is Loving Because It Cares About People” — A Speech on Journalism to High School Students

Screening Moundsville this year has taken us to magazines, schools, libraries, old-age homes, theaters, small towns, and art galleries. My impulse in making the film was journalistic: I wanted to report an American story that everybody agreed was true. In post-film talks, I found myself having to explain, and thinking a lot about, what IContinue reading ““Good Journalism Is Loving Because It Cares About People” — A Speech on Journalism to High School Students”

The Badass Life of the ‘Mother of the Civil War’ Whose Children Fought on Both Sides: A Teenage Bride, She Got a Divorce, Outlived Husbands, and Loved to Smoke.

Now a salute to Sarah Brandon, a Moundsville woman whose 1914 obituary described her as the “Mother of the Civil War”. According to a story in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette, she died at 113, and had 23 children, including 16 boys who fought in the Civil War. (14 for the Union, two for theContinue reading “The Badass Life of the ‘Mother of the Civil War’ Whose Children Fought on Both Sides: A Teenage Bride, She Got a Divorce, Outlived Husbands, and Loved to Smoke.”