Wednesday, August 19, 1981

59. Pippa Passes, Kentucky

Day 59:  Wednesday, August 19, 1981
Booneville to Pippa Passes:  74 miles

It was raining this morning when we awoke.  We didn't want to face the cold, cruel world, but we finally forced ourselves out of bed.  Jack didn't want to cook in the rain, so we went downtown to a restaurant.  Choo Choo slept in and missed the rain.  It stopped an hour later.

Six miles out of Booneville, I broke a spoke.   I stopped at a country grocery for repairs, and spent an hour talking with the proprietor.  That gave Choo Choo time to catch up.  Jack had forged on ahead, and we didn't see him until evening.

Kentucky road
A typical road in coal-mining territory

We're really getting into the coal mining country now.  On the roads we're traveling, we can expect to see a coal truck every five minutes or so, each one hauling between 25 and 40 tons.  They haul only from the mines to the railroad loading tipples, but there's still plenty of truck traffic.  We've seen strip mines, in which veins of coal are removed through the side of a hill; deep mining, in which shafts are sunk to the veins; and open mining, where entire hillsides are scraped away to expose the veins.

coal mines
We passed many coal mines

We had several miles of gravel today.  At one time the road may have been paved, but it was a heavily-traveled coal truck route.  Once past the tipple, the pavement resumed.

The valleys between the mountain ridges here in the Appalachians are wide enough for a stream, a road, and a few houses.  Consequently, the towns have one street, and are strung out along the valley, or hollow.  Pippa Passes was like this.  It has only a few hundred people, but it's a college town.  Alice Lloyd College, a four-year institution, is located here.

The old high school used to house an AYH hostel, but it burned down last September.  Temporary quarters were up a side street, in the lower half of a house.  Choo Choo and I met Jack there.  He had taken a flatter and more scenic route, upon the advice of a native.  Even so, he biked 82 miles today, about 6 more than we did.  We were the only occupants of the hostel tonight.  The innkeeper gave us some tomatoes, green beans, peppers, and potatoes, and that did a decent job of supplementing our cold meat sandwiches.

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