Day 60: Thursday, August 20, 1981
Pippa Passes, Kentucky to Breaks Interstate Park, Virginia: 62 miles
This was our last day in Kentucky - and I'm glad. Eastern Kentucky is the epitome of Appalachian poverty. Nowadays, of course, poverty is different from 40 or 50 years ago. Almost every family has at least one car and a television set. But there is a very high percentage of people on the dole. They have no incentive to work. It's a vicious circle. Unemployment is high, so they don't look for jobs, and they can't see the sense of an education, so they aren't qualified to do anything, so they wait for government handouts. Hygiene is poor. There apparently are no public garbage dumps. It looks as if everyone chucks the trash out the door into the creek, or into the roadside ditches. Most of the eastern Kentucky roadsides looked and smelled like garbage dumps. Neither state nor local government picks up all this trash, either.
When we crossed the line into Virginia, the difference was like night and day. Virginia's roads are as clean as Michigan's. The poverty and squalor disappeared. People took more pride in the homes and yards. Some of this difference can be attributed to Virginia's greater affluence, but not all of it. I'm not sure why the disparity is so great.
|When we hear one of these coming, we get out of the way!
|Several coal mines feed this rail terminus.
On the road today, we were given the chance to tour a coal mine. It would have been fascinating. A motorcyclist happened to own a small mine which employed six men and did about 250 ton/day, and he invited us over. But we would have had to cross two mountains to get to it, and be there at seven in the morning! We declined with regrets.
We also met a tobacco farmer who discussed with us some of the techniques and problems of raising and harvesting tobacco.