Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 Road Trip With Carol, Part 1: Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky: Perspectives

Pinnacle Overlook, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

My mother, Carol, and I are on a road trip that takes us through North Carolina and Tennessee.

Perspectives: Elevation

Carol and I drove up and up and up Skyland Road to Pinnacle Overlook (which is actually in Virginia), within the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. We got out of the car and walked to the signage that told us about Pinnacle Overlook and its elevation. Elevation = 2440 feet. Wait, what? Is that 2440 feet from the point where we stood to the pinnacle? Or was that 2440 total, from the base of the mountain to the peak?

Having just come from a year in Alamogordo, in the high desert, at an elevation of 4336, within 13 miles of the 9,000-foot level town of Mayhill, I felt disoriented.

It took awhile for my brain to recompute and realize that the baseline for Kentucky and nearabouts is less than 600 feet above sea level ..... ohhhhh.

Visually, then, the Appalachians and Smokies look of similar height as the Sacramentos, et al in New Mexico - it's the starting point that differs.

Pinnacle Overlook, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

Perspectives: History

In New Mexico, I was struck by the viscous nature of what we call history. More to come on that in future.

But in the meantime, the Cumberland Gap Visitor Center had a Civil War-related exhibit upstairs. The exhibit described the racism that existed in Kentucky before, during, and following the Civil War. I admired how matter-of-fact the text was - no sensationalism and no sugar coating.

Read for yourself:

Exhibit, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

Exhibit, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kentucky

I'm processing the idea of historical trauma, a term I heard at a talk at the Bosque Redondo Memorial Site outside Fort Sumner, New Mexico. (Post to come.) I do support the historical trauma concept, and the African American experience is an example of same.  Although it doesn't use the term "historical trauma," the Cumberland Gap exhibit describes one section of the generational trauma. 

Funny thing, though, hardly any photos of African Americans at the exhibit.

And oh yeah, ditto for women of any complexion.

History, that elusive tale.

No comments: