(Original post date: May 30, 2010)
We had a wonderful time yesterday sitting in the sunshine under a dogwood tree at the Floyd County Historical Society Museum’s grand opening, in the old Ridgemont Hospital building in Floyd (1913-23). We’d been invited up to have a display and sales table for When the Parkway Came, since Floyd is very near the Parkway and there’s a lot of interest there in its history. We also took along copies of Anne’s Super-Scenic Motorway, as well as David’s All That Is Native and Fine, since Floyd is also an area where people are very interested in the history of Appalachian music.
The efforts to create the Floyd County museum, described in some detail at the event, stemmed from at least 1976, when local citizens inspired by the American Bicentennial celebrations organized the Historical Society and began local building and archival preservation efforts. The community’s perseverance and devotion to these efforts over the years is an inspiring demonstration of how much local history means to people — how it helps them to place themselves in the world and root themselves in a place.
We found everyone we talked with deeply interested in the history of the Parkway and region as well — which meant we sold lots of books! But just as interesting to us was the resonance of When the Parkway Came‘s themes with what we heard from people we spoke with in Floyd. Almost to a person, people wanted to share with us either that (a) one of their ancestors had worked on the Parkway — in the CCC, in surveying, in construction, or other related work; or (b) that someone in their family had had land taken for the Parkway.
People buying Scenic often asked if there was anything in the book about the landowners (there’s lots). And of course, the Miller family in When the Parkway Came finds itself touched both by land acquisition and work opportunities related to the Parkway’s advent. Being in Floyd reminded us, again, how it seems that people who live in the Parkway region and love the park still need to find their voices and their painful histories acknowledged in re-tellings of the Parkway’s story. Community engagement with the Parkway in the future will, it seems to us, be enhanced by more honest acknowledgment of the pain leftover from some elements of the Parkway’s past.