"Whoops and whip o’ wills" : re-thinking the preservation and interpretation of cultural resources in Shenandoah National Park
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Since its establishment in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia 75 years ago, the Shenandoah National Park has been home to an abundance of wildlife and plant life as well as a haven for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. However, little is known about the previous inhabitants of the land the park now encompasses. In the mid 1930s, approximately 465 families were forcibly evicted from their homes, spanning eight counties and approximately 12,600 acres. This project seeks to study the economic and social makeup of mountain communities that existed prior to the park as well as propose new interpretation that more accurately tells the story and experience of those who lived there and were removed. In focusing on mountain communities, this project will look specifically at one area of the Central District of Shenandoah National Park, Lewis Mountain and Pocosin Hollow in Greene County. Remnants of houses, churches, school sites and artifacts of daily life are scattered through the woods along abandoned roads, fire roads and hiking trails. Without proper interpretation and context, these artifacts and ruins have little meaning. By relying on GIS technology, as well as oral histories, census records, memoirs, and land records, this project seeks to identify the families who lived in these areas and document their history, breathing life into the story of the mountain residents and their experience. The importance of this project will apply beyond the park‟s visitors and the ancestors of those who once lived there. By urging the cultural resource managers at Shenandoah National Park to rethink their interpretive displays, exhibits and trail guides, the findings of this project can hopefully encourage the greater National Park Service to be more sensitive and thoughtful in the historic contexts provided at parks nationwide.
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