Square dance calling — the spoken instructions said over the music — makes participation easy. But there are other aspects — like the prevalence of gendered language such as “ladies and gents” — that can make square dancing an unwelcoming or confusing space. One group of friends in the Appalachian square dance scene are taking action to make the tradition more welcoming for all participants.Continue Reading Take Me to More News
On December 3, 1787, spectators gathered in Shepherdstown along the banks of the Potomac River to watch history being made. Inventor James Rumsey stepped aboard a crudely built wooden boat and fired up a steam engine. The waters of the Potomac started churning up, and, suddenly, the boat headed upstream, leaving a stunned crowd in amazement.
Rumsey had tinkered with his invention for years, but he’d struggled to find financial backing. Just three years earlier, he’d been an innkeeper at Berkeley Springs. One day, he showed a model of his steam-powered boat with a frequent visitor to the springs. George Washington formally endorsed Rumsey’s plans. As a result, Rumsey was able to raise the necessary funds for his demonstration on the Potomac three years later.
After the Shepherdstown demonstration, Rumsey traveled to Philadelphia and gained support from Benjamin Franklin, who formed a society to raise money for the venture. However, Rumsey died during a trip to England in 1792 at the age of 49. In 1807, Robert Fulton introduced a more practical design of Rumsey’s idea and is now remembered as the “father of the steamboat.”