The Series Begins with the birth of some of the work's most ancient mountains, the Appalachians. It traces the evolution of the Great Forest, which blankets the region, sheltering unique mosaic of plant and animal life. We see Appalachia's Native Peoples at the time of European contact- vibrant adaptive cultures with finely tuned relationships to the natural world. THe arrival of the Europeans signals vast upheavals for every form of life.
Native American and European cultures collide in the great and ancient forest. First come surveyors and mapmakers, then hunters and cabin builders. The vast differences between the two ways of life come to a climax when gold is discovered in 1829 on Cherokee lands in the Georgia hills, resulting in the removal of the region's first peoples. We see a new inhabitant, the European pioneer, carving out a life on the Appalachian frontier, coming to terms with the wilderness, creating a uniquely mountain way of life.
The Civil War transforms a region of small farms nestled in a lush forest into a weakened and divided land. Railroads push into the mountains as speculators spread through every hollow. The land, the people, the wildlife and the culture are forever changed as coal is dug and ancient trees felled in order to fuel the nation's booming economy. Journalists attack the "peculiar" people of the mountains and resources flow out in a mighty flood leaving behind a poor people in a rich land.
A rich, deeply conflicted region forges its own identity amidst continual exploitation and renewal- from the first American school of scientific forestry to the death of the American Chestnut, from union battles to the conservation , from the War on Poverty to the Cherokee Renaissance. Form the heartbreak of mountaintop removal mining to the hope of a new American Chestnut tree, the struggle to find a proper relationship to the natural world remains the real Appalachian story.