Did you know what happened to our mountains after the Civil War?
“A distinct family of mountains in the southern Appalachians, the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee may be the most biologically diverse place in North America. Heavy rainfall (80 inches per year on the peaks) here produces and omnipresent mist that makes them appear to give off steam – hence the nickname, the Smokies. …
Although small farmers engaged in market activities, such as collecting ginseng, selling surplus corn as moonshine and cutting locust trees for railroad ties, industrial logging would transform the Great Smoky Mountains. Some two dozen lumber companies harvested 2.2 billion board feet of lumber, affecting 60 percent of the region. Attendant floods, fires, and erosion altered some areas so much that they still do not (100 years later) support the same level of diversity as areas that remained unlogged. At the same time, an imported fungus, Crypho-nectria parasitica, or the chestnut blight, finished off the remaining chestnut trees. Scenic preservationists, alarmed at the loss of forests, worked with tourism interests to sell the region as a national park..
Creating a national park out of a region so heavily affected by humans proved a Herculean task. With unprecedented powers of eminent domain, the state governments of North Carolina and Tennessee removed 5,665 people from the former farming communities and lumber camps. The first national park rangers arrived in 1931, and within a year of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation, the Smokies had 17 Civilian Conservation Corps camps – more than any two national parks combined. The 4,350 young men who participated constructed 800 miles of trails and four major road systems; they built tourist amenities, stocked fish, and replanted roadsides with sensitivity to native species and scenic beauty, all in time for the president’s dedication in 1940.”
Margaret Lynn Brown in Martin Melosi (ed.) The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Environment (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), pp.221-223
Where do you think the profits went?
The profits were extracted and funneled up North like all over the South at this time whether it was in Texas and Louisiana with the oil, the Deep South with the depressed cotton prices, Arkansas with the bauxite mines, Kentucky and West Virginia with the coal, the textile villages in the Piedmont, the iron and steel industry in Birmingham which was in thrall to Pittsburgh as well as the timber that was clearcut and harvested elsewhere along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coasts.
Yes, things were so much better here under “conservatism” when 3 million people had pellagra. As every Boomer knows, the only alternative to free-market capitalism is socialism!
Note: Amazingly, “Democratic strategists” never bring this up either while talking about the “Green New Deal.” It’s like they are utterly ignorant of American history.