Sipping Berkeley Springs Water And Talking Climate Change With Silas House


This week, we’re visiting Berkeley Springs where we sample healing waters from a natural spring so good that even George Washington traveled to check it out.

We’ll also visit the Cass Scenic Railroad in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Tourists come from all around to ride its antique trains. And there’s a crew of experts who keep ‘em running. And we speak with Kentucky author Silas House about his new novel. It’s part of a growing genre called climate fiction.

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

In This Episode:

Something About The Water In Berkeley Springs

There are natural springs all over Appalachia. The deep folds of rock that make up our mountains bring water from the depths to trickle out of our hillsides. That’s where many people got their fresh water in the years before indoor plumbing. But in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, people are still filling jugs with spring water to lug back home. Why? Folkways reporter Zack Harold decided to fish around for some answers.

Keeping The Fires Lit On The Cass Railroad

Since 2019, our Folkways team has produced more than 100 stories about Appalachian folklife — that is, traditions that are being passed down from one generation to the next. Passing down those traditions is important. In our story about the Cass Railroad, you’ll meet railroad senior employee Rex Cassell. He passed away during the making of this story. But during his life, he was a crucial part of why visiting the Cass Railroad in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, feels like you’re stepping back in time. Folkways reporter Lauren Griffin brought us this story.


The cover the latest Silas House novel.

“Lark Ascending”

Amid extreme weather events like floods and fires, a new literary genre is emerging, called cli-fi. Short for climate fiction. Cli-fi tells stories about the effects of climate change on people and society. And Appalachian writers are penning their own works in the genre, including one of the region’s premier writers, Kentucky author Silas House. His new novel is “Lark Ascending” which tells the story of a climate refugee from Appalachia.

The Message Behind The Music At “Healing Appalachia”

The Healing Appalachia music festival returned to Greenbrier County in September. Headlined by eastern Kentucky’s Tyler Childers, the festival went from a single day to two and included performances by Arlo McKinley, Margot Price and Galactic, among others. But the festival has a larger mission than just having a good time. Producer Bill Lynch spoke with organizer Charlie Hatcher about what the festival hopes to accomplish.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Appalachian Road Show, The Company Stores, June Carter Cash and Tyler Childers.

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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