Our Southern Highlanders

Monday, October 6, 2008

Originally published in 1913, Our Southern Highlanders is a true classic written by the man most responsible for the existence of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Although he wasn’t a native of Appalachia, Horace Kephart was recognized as an authority on the cultural and natural history of the region. Using his abilities and reputation, Kephart was instrumental in convincing individuals on both the local and national levels of the need for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kephart’s arguments on behalf of the park were thoughtful and pragmatic, as well as appealing to the love and appreciation of nature. Describing the economic potential of a national park, he campaigned vigorously to preserve the last major stands of forests in the East.

Our Southern Highlanders is a collection of first-hand observations of the mountains and people during Kephart’s first 10 years of travels throughout the Southern Appalachians. The book provides an in-depth look at mountain customs, beliefs, and the vernacular of the region. Kephart argued that little had been written of the Southern mountaineer and that the rest of America knew almost nothing of a people set apart “from all other folks by dialect, by customs, by character, by self-conscious isolation”

He describes in detail what gave the mountaineers their character and their fierce individualism, and relates many stories, both tragic and humorous.

A contemporary review from the New York Times reported that the book was the first serious and comprehensive study of the region.

Two months before his life was cut short by an automobile accident in 1931, the U.S. Geological Board recognized Kephart’s contribution by naming a peak within the park Mount Kephart. This was an honor that had been previously bestowed only after an individual’s death.

If you would like more information on Our Southern Highlanders, please click here.

If you're interested in seeing our full selection of outdoor, hiking, and Smoky Mountain history books, please visit: The Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.

1 comment

David said...

Funny you mention this book! Just found your blog from HikerHell and just recently added "Our Southern Highlanders" to my Amazon reading list. Thanks for the review - look forward to following your blog!