Inside Appalachia Looks Back At 2022: From Historic Floods To Dolly Parton


This week, we look back at some of the stories we told in 2022. We took you to the floods in eastern Kentucky, where you met people who witnessed terrible destruction. We also invited you along as we talked to Appalachians who know a little something about resilience, like Dolly Parton.

Because you invited us into your homes, we invited you into ours with a special trip to our host Mason Adam’s hometown — Floyd, Virginia.

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

A Trouble With Teaching

In January, our host Mason Adams spoke with West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s former education reporter, Liz McCormick, and highlighted the problem of the teacher shortage in West Virginia.

Say Cheese!

Last winter, we also visited Helvetia, a little Swiss village in the hills of West Virginia. That’s close to the Monongahela National Forest. Residents can trace their heritage back to Switzerland, and the town preserves and shares their culture and traditions through famous festivals like Fasnacht, which happens in February, the Saturday before Fat Tuesday.

In Helvetia, you can sample Swiss dishes at the Hutte Restaurant and browse local goods at Swiss Roots, the community store. One of these goods is a homemade cheese called Appalachian Alpine. Its makers are a retired couple whose new hobby has revived a lost recipe. Folkways Reporter Lauren Griffin brought us this story.

Swiss Cheese - Helvetia

Lauren Griffin
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Cheese being prepared and packaged for local sale.

In 2022, Folkways reporters filed around 40 different stories on topics ranging from mushroom hunters and people who raise honeybees to guitar surgeons, funeral singers and snake handling music. You can hear them all right here.

A Farewell To An American Hero

In June, the nation said goodbye to its last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient. Hershel Woodrow Wilson, or “Woody,” was from Quiet Dell, West Virginia. He died at the age of 98.

Aside from his military decorations and honors, Williams was an advocate for veterans and veterans issues for decades. Following his passing, tributes from elected officials on both sides of the aisle poured in.

We paid tribute, too, with an excerpt of Trey Kay’s interview with Wilson for Us & Them.

Woody Williams Gold Star.jpg

Eric Douglas
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Woody Williams standing beside the first Gold Star Families memorial in the country, at the Donel C. Kinnard cemetery in Dunbar, West Virginia. There are more than 100 memorials around the country now.

Witness To The Flood of 2022

In late July, historic flooding hit parts of eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia, killing 34 and damaging or destroying homes, businesses and schools. One of the places affected by the disaster was the town of Hindman in Knott County, Kentucky, home to the Hindman Settlement School.

The rain and flood waters came while the school was hosting its annual Appalachian Writers Conference.

Our producer Bill Lynch spoke with some of the writers who’d watched the waters rise, flood buildings and carry off cars.

Kentucky Flooding - Submerged Vehicle - FEMA

Brynn Anderson
FILE – A truck is sunk in water after massive flooding in Hindman, Ky., Aug. 2, 2022. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear complained Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is denying too many requests for assistance in flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky, and urged those getting turned down to take their cases directly to agency representatives in the region.

Jamin’ At The Jamboree

One of our favorite stories in 2022 was a visit to the hometown of host Mason Adams and the Floyd Country Store.

The town of Floyd in Floyd County, Virginia is small — about 400 year-round residents, but on Friday nights, the population doubles or triples — maybe gets bigger than even that with people traveling from all over to attend Floyd’s Friday Night Jamboree.

Floyd Friday Jamboree

Mason Adams
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Various musicians gather around to play music at the Friday Night Jamboree in Floyd, Virginia.

Well, Hello Dolly

It was almost like an appearance by a head of state or royalty. This summer, American music legend and recent Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame inductee Dolly Parton came to Charleston.

The acclaimed singer/songwriter, actress and philanthropist was in West Virginia to celebrate the state’s full, 55-county participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. That’s an early childhood literacy program she started in 1995 from her home in Sevier County, Tennessee.

The goal of the program is to put books in the hands of children. Each month, Imagination Library provides a free book to participating children aged birth to five. It’s been a huge success and the program sends books to children all over the world.

In August, WVPB’s Executive Producer Suzanne Higgins spoke with Parton at a special event at the Clay Center in Charleston.

Dolly WVPB interview.jpg

Butch Antolini
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
WVPB Executive Producer Suzanne Higgins speaks with Dolly Parton in an exclusive interview on Aug. 9, 2022.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Tyler Childers, David Mumford, Andrea Tomasi, Amethyst Kia and Dolly Parton.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

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