Our move almost four years ago from WV to RI located us in what seemed a world away from Appalachia. But there are surprisingly similarities between Swamp Yankees and Hillbillies. They both seem to have a knack for thrift, they are primarily Protestant (S.Y. from primarily English stock) and they both seem to be related to nearly everyone in the village. Last night I learned of a connection that isnt too kind.
If you have ever toured, walked or snooped around the Mansions in Newport you may be familiar with the Elms, a spectacular French chateau. It was built by Edward Berwind a coal baron of the early part of the 20th century who owned mines in WV and Penn.
What a contrast it is to sit on the steps at Elms looking at the Newport beaches and the Atlantic Ocean when compared to the poverty of the Appalachian coalfields. There are no Berwind colleges, hospitals, parks, but there is a great mansion in Newport.
You may never know or see the link when you turn on your computer, flip the light switch or lavish the cool air from the AC but there is one whether you live in RI or WV, unfortunately coal is feuling our desire for electricity. I thought that RI was okay, electricity from natural gas, but the Elms says otherwise.
*thanks to Jeff Goodell and his book Big Coal for this link.