I was born in Raleigh, N.C. My mother, a North Carolina native from Alexander County, moved to Raleigh to attend N.C. State and stayed in town after graduating. My father, raised on the south side of Chicago, moved to Raleigh after law school. Read more


Tiny seeds can grow into mighty oaks, and one of the first seeds in the trend of tourism trails in Western North Carolina came in 1996 when the Asheville-based craft organization Handmade in America published its “Craft Heritage Trails” guidebook. Read more


Nun on horseback

Mandy Newham-Cobb illustration

As a Navy kid, I grew up with a passport in one hand, and a ticket in the other, as comfortable crossing borders as I was crossing my fingers when promising I wouldn’t venture outside my prescribed geographic boundaries. Read more


Blue Ridge Parkway on two wheels


It’s not easy to find a good time machine. My grandparents’ house was one. No matter what the year was outside, when I walked through the front door it was the 1930s inside. Read more

Virginia Creeper Trail

Photo by Cameron Davidson/ Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

In the heart of Abingdon, Va., begins the Virginia Creeper Trail, a former train line turned multi-use pathway. The 34-mile trail climbs from its base, marked by a historic Norfolk and Western engine, once used on the tracks, to nearly 4,000 feet. Read more


“Old Maude bows to the Virginia Creeper”

Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum, Roanoke, VA. Copyright Conway Link

Railroads did not barrel into the Appalachians until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But when they did, communities lying in the path of the locomotives were dramatically transformed. Mountain enclaves became bustling little towns. Read more

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Mary Lou

Donated photo

A woman who says I’m her mother tells me I’m 94 years old. I don’t believe it. Sometimes she takes me out to eat, which is really nice, but she brings me back to this place. She says it’s my home now. I don’t believe that, either. Read more