They are the sites that capture our imaginations as we try to imagine life in a place that seems devoid of life. These are lost towns or maybe you call them ghost towns. However, there is life when you look. Especially in Georgia's ghost towns where kudzu reclaims structures and animals make nests or fish now inhabit remains of buildings of towns now under man made lakes. Lisa Russel will be our guide into what happened to these town of Georgia’s past. Lisa not only tells us of the fates of these towns but of their interesting pasts.
This week I speak with another husband and wife team, Vicki and James Erwin.
During the nineteenth century, more than three hundred boats met their end in the steamboat graveyard that was the Lower Missouri River, from Omaha to its mouth. Although derided as little more than an “orderly pile of kindling,” steamboats were, in fact, technological marvels superbly adapted to the river’s conditions. Their light superstructure and long, wide, flat hulls powered by high-pressure engines drew so little water that they could cruise on “a heavy dew” even when fully loaded. But these same characteristics made them susceptible to fires, explosions and snags—tree trunks ripped from the banks, hiding under the water’s surface. Authors Vicki and James Erwin detail the perils that steamboats, their passengers and crews faced on every voyage.
The legend of the Yellow Rose of Texas holds an indisputable place in Lone Star culture, tethered to a familiar song that has served as a Civil War marching tune, a pop chart staple and a halftime anthem. Almost two centuries of Texas mythmaking successfully muddled fact with fable in song. The true story of Emily D. West remains mired in dispute and unrecognizable beneath the manipulative tales that grew up around it. The complete truth may never be recovered, but author Lora-Marie Bernard seeks an honest account honoring the grit and determination that brought a free black woman from the abolitionist riots of Connecticut to the thick of a bloody Texas revolution. A Lone Star native who grew up immersed in the Yellow Rose legend, Bernard also traces other stories that legend has obscured, including the connection between Emily D. West and plans for a free black colony in Texas.
This week we go back to the Revolutionary War and look at the events that led to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and with author John Maas.
Around the North Carolina village of Guilford Courthouse in the late winter of 1781, two weary armies clashed on a cold, wet afternoon. American forces under Nathanael Greene engaged Lord Cornwallis’s British army in a bitter two-hour battle of the Revolutionary War. The frightful contest at Guilford was a severe conflict in which troops made repeated use of their flintlock muskets, steel bayonets and dragoon swords in hand-to-hand fighting that killed and wounded about eight hundred men. Historian John R. Maass recounts the bloody battle and the grueling campaign in the South that led up to it, a crucial event on the road to American independence.
Running for 664 miles along Kentucky's border, the Ohio River provided a remarkable opportunity for the enslaved to escape to free soil in Indiana and Ohio. The river beckoned fugitive slave Henry Bibb onto a steamboat at Madison, Indiana, headed to Cincinnati, where he discovered the Underground Railroad. Upriver from Cincinnati, a lantern signal high on a hill from the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio, stirred others to flee for freedom. These stories and more along the borderland of the Ohio River also served as the setting for Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, which became an inspiration of human resistance. Author Nancy Theiss, PhD, takes readers on a tour through American history to places of courage and sacrifice.
On this special episode I am joined by husband and wife authors Wil Elrick and Kelly Kazek. Between the two of them they have written about forgotten history that affected the nation, weird facts and strange stories. From a maritime disaster with a loss of life on par with the Titanic which took place on the Mississippi River to a man simply vanishing from his farm in Alabama this episode has it all.
When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine in 1565, his New World survival kit included gambling, liquor and ladies for hire. For the next four hundred years, these three industries were vital in keeping the city financially afloat. With the cooperation of law enforcement and politicians, St. Augustine’s madams, bootleggers and high-rollers created a veritable Riviera where tourists, especially the wealthy, could indulge in almost every vice and still bring the family along for a wholesome vacation picking oranges and gawking at alligators. Join historian Ann Colby’s tour of spots not on the standard tourist map to discover hidden-in-plain-sight bordellos, speakeasies, casinos and the occasional opium den.
Ever driven by, walked by or flown over an abandoned building or house and wondered what the inside looked like? Do you see a haunting beauty in the decay? Jay Farrell does and he joins me this week to talk about exploring abandoned places throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi.
It was an unlikely place for a city, scourged by disease-ridden mosquitos and pummeled by hurricanes. But for more than three hundred years, Mobile has thrived on the unlikely and endured the unimaginable. Mobilians love their gumbo but are likely unaware that it was first served up here by women sent from France to foster population growth. Times were once so dire for free blacks that a shocking number petitioned the courts to become slaves. The city witnessed the first operational submarine, the first Mardi Gras celebration and the last major battle of the Civil War. Author Joe Cuhaj navigates the backwaters of Mobile’s fascinating history.
On this episode I speak with author Dale Perelman.
In the summer of 1978, a mother and her four-year-old were stabbed to death in the quiet town of New Castle. Police suspected the husband, Lou Kadunce, but were unable to find either a weapon or a motive. Sitting in a Lawrence County jail in 1981, convicted serial killer Michael Atkinson accused Frank Costal—a carny, petty thief and Satanist—of having an affair with the Kadunce husband and participating in the murder. A series of intense trials ensued as Costal was convicted of the homicides and a jury found the husband not guilty. Questions surrounding the case gripped the region and grabbed headlines in the Pittsburgh Press. Author Dale Richard Perelman tells this tragic story.