How to Draw People Back to Appalachia — Family Builds a New Life in West Virginia

In 2016, Andrew Kefer, a quality analyst, his wife Jessica, a counselor hired by companies to help employees, and their three children, moved to New Cumberland, West Virginia from the Philadelphia suburbs to be closer to her family. For the region, that’s part of a welcome trend. As Emily Badger’s recent exploration of West VirginiaContinue reading “How to Draw People Back to Appalachia — Family Builds a New Life in West Virginia”

Lady and Baby Skeletons: Ancient or Modern Americans? West Virginia News Startup Tackles Mysterious Case

This past December, Lede News, a lively startup news outlet in Wheeling, WV, broke an unusual and interesting story. It concerned the skeletal remains of a woman and her newborn child who had been found in 1991 under the overhang of a nearby cliff. The bones did not appear to be recent, and they didn’tContinue reading “Lady and Baby Skeletons: Ancient or Modern Americans? West Virginia News Startup Tackles Mysterious Case”

Top 10 Things To Do in Moundsville: The Perfect American Weekend or Day Trip

It was the sign touting the Grave Creek Mound that lured me off the highway, but as I dug into the story of this unique West Virginia town for a PBS movie, I discovered a world of amazing places. Put together, they make for a day or weekend that is fun, fascinating, family-friendly, and theContinue reading “Top 10 Things To Do in Moundsville: The Perfect American Weekend or Day Trip”

The True Story of West Virginia’s 1863 (Bourgeois) Revolution and Birth

West Virginia is known for mines, mountains and working-class grit, but the state was born from a merchant-class revolt seeking freedom from punitive Richmond tax policies and the Virginia of colonial plantations dependent on slave labor. That business past, part of the story we tell in Moundsville, has shaped the consciousness of the region, andContinue reading “The True Story of West Virginia’s 1863 (Bourgeois) Revolution and Birth”

National Family Anthem: Lady Gaga’s Grandpa Was a West Virginia Crooner — Manchin Grabs Gaga Selfie

Lady Gaga’s stunning national anthem performance, and gold brooch of a peace dove, at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration drew another round of reminders that her mom grew up in Glen Dale, WV. That’s near Wheeling, and the twin town of Moundville, the subject of Moundsville, our PBS biography of a classic American town. Sen. JoeContinue reading “National Family Anthem: Lady Gaga’s Grandpa Was a West Virginia Crooner — Manchin Grabs Gaga Selfie”

New Film About Portsmouth, OH Inspired by ‘Moundsville’

Dave Bernabo and I made Moundsville, now on PBS, to attempt a different kind of conversation about American industrial towns. If we could tell a deeper, more human story, we thought, we could help rebuild parts of the shared narrative America needs to grieve deindustrialization, heal divisions, and move forward. When Amanda Page, a writerContinue reading “New Film About Portsmouth, OH Inspired by ‘Moundsville’”

‘Night of the Hunter’: Rise and Fall of an American Con Man

In the 1955 thriller Night of the Hunter, Harry Powell, a classic American con man posing as an itinerant preacher, settles in Moundsville, WV. He seduces, marries, and kills Willa, a bank robber’s widow. He then charms the pants off the entire town while hunting Willa’s escaped children and $10,000 their father had hid withContinue reading “‘Night of the Hunter’: Rise and Fall of an American Con Man”

The Polish and Ohio Valley Origins of Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (1939-2020)

This blog promotes the PBS film ‘Moundsville’, and publishes stories about West Virginia and Appalachia. The obituaries for Phil Niekro, who died of cancer at age 81 on Dec. 26, focused on his legendary knuckleball. In the Ohio Valley, the Appalachian mining country southwest of Pittsburgh where “Knucksie” grew up, the Hall of Famer isContinue reading “The Polish and Ohio Valley Origins of Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (1939-2020)”

Downriver from the Moundsville Prison Graveyard: Story of a Lyric

This post has been updated to include information from an email from Mark Kozelek. When singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek was a teenager in the 1980s, he used to visit Moundsville prison. “We’d sit on a curb outside of a residential neighborhood and watch guards enter and exit the front gate,” he wrote me in an email.Continue reading “Downriver from the Moundsville Prison Graveyard: Story of a Lyric”

How Moundsville is Celebrating Christmas in 2020

David Seum, a Moundsville, WV resident we’ve profiled on this blog, walked around his Ohio River town this week taking pictures, and put together this lovely photo essay. Decorating your home in the same way you dress up a Christmas tree is a great American tradition, taken up in towns large and small, from seaContinue reading “How Moundsville is Celebrating Christmas in 2020”