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Cumberland Falls and Traditions, Legends and Music of Appalachia

Based out of a hemlock beam lodge in Daniel Boone National Forest, explore Cumberland Falls and the surrounding region. Plus, learn about Appalachian culture through music and lectures.
Rating (5)
Program No. 6722RJ
6 days
Starts at

Cumberland Falls and Traditions, Legends and Music of Appalachia

Based out of a hemlock beam lodge in Daniel Boone National Forest, explore Cumberland Falls and the surrounding region. Plus, learn about Appalachian culture through music and lectures.
6 days
Starts at
Program No. 6722 RJ
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At a Glance

Stand in awe of Kentucky’s Cumberland Falls, the “Niagara of the South,” and discover the wilderness beauty and natural history of the surrounding area. As unique as the landscape of this region is the culture of Appalachia — gain insights into the proud people here, their customs and culture, socioeconomic characteristics and personal stories. Learn about the geological structure that underlies the Appalachian Mountains.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • During expert-led talks and walks in Cumberland Falls State Park, absorb its natural beauty and learn about the flora and fauna of the forest.
  • Experience the traditions, legends and music that reflect the unique culture of Appalachia.
  • Gain an appreciation for the realities of working life in Appalachia — past, present and future.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Max of 50 participants, divided into groups for activities.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Dollmaker
by Harriett Arnow
Strong-willed, self-reliant Gertie Nevels's peaceful life in the Kentucky hills is devastated by the brutal winds of change. Uprooted from her backwoods home, she and her family are thrust into the confusion and chaos of wartime Detroit. And in a pitiless world of unendurable poverty, Gertie will battle fiercely and relentlessly to protect those things she holds most dear -- her children, her heritage . . . and her triumphant ability to create beauty in the suffocating shadow of ugliness and despair
Newcomb's Wildflower Guide
by Lawrence Newcomb
A classic identification guide, which uses a simple dichotomous key for identification. With 1,075 mostly black-and-white drawings, it covers the Northeast and Great Lakes region, south to Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and most of Tennessee.
Night Comes to the Cumberlands
by Harry M. Caudill
Three hundred miles west of the national capital lies the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachians, a mountainous region of flat- topped ridges and steep-walled valleys, richly endowed by nature with dense forests, winding rivers, abundant game, loamy soils, and thick veins of coal. This is Daniel Boone country, where Indians and then fiercely independent frontiersmen found in these isolated valleys the elements that sustained a vigorous life. Yet it is one of the ironies of our history that many of their descendants live there today in bleak and demoralizing poverty almost without parallel on this continent. Harry Caudill, a young Kentucky ex-legislator with roots generations deep in the Cumberland coves, tells here the pathetic and disturbing story of these forgotten backcountry people -- a tragic tale of the abuse and mismanagement of a resource heritage, and the human erosion that is always the concomitant of shortsighted exploitation. Caudill's book is a story of land failure and the failure of men. It is reminiscent of such earlier works as Sinclair The Jungle, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and Agee Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Although one may differ with details of interpretation, in probing dark areas of American life such books as these and Night Comes to the Cumberlands speak eloquently to the American conscience.
A History of Appalachia
by Richard Drake
The Thread that Runs so True
by Jesse Stuart
First published in 1949, Jesse Stuart’s now classic personal account of his twenty years of teaching in the mountain region of Kentucky has enchanted and inspired generations of students and teachers.
Our Southern Highlanders
by Horace Kephart
A classic book of history and folklore of the mountaineers of the southern Appalachians. Kephart is considered the premier folklorist and historian of the area. First published in the 1910s.
Uneven Ground
by Ronald Eller
Appalachia Since 1945
Birth of a National Park in the Great Smoky Mountains
by Carlos C. Campbell
The Great Smoky Mountains national park is among the nation's favorites. This is the story of how the beloved park came to be.
River of Earth
by James Stil
The book focuses on three years in the life of an Appalachian family as told from the viewpoint of a young boy. The boy watches as his parents are pulled between their meager but independent life as farmers, and the uncertain promise of prosperity offered by the mining camps in Appalachia.
Clays Quilt
by Silas House
After his mother is killed, four-year-old Clay Sizemore finds himself alone in a small Appalachian mining town. At first, unsure of Free Creek, he slowly learns to lean on its residents as family. There’s Aunt Easter, who is always filled with a sense of foreboding, bound to her faith above all; quiltmaking Uncle Paul; untamable Evangeline; and Alma, the fiddler whose song wends it way into Clay’s heart. Together, they help Clay fashion a quilt of a life from what treasured pieces surround him. . . .
A Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-Central North America
by Roger Tory Peterson, Rosemary McKenna
A best-selling guide to wildflowers in a handsome paper edition, featuring drawings, color illustrations and short descriptions. Covers 1,293 species.

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