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Mountains on the Market

Industry, the Environment, and the South

Randal L. Hall

Publication Year: 2012

Manufacturing in the Northeast and the Midwest pushed the United States to the forefront of industrialized nations during the early nineteenth century; the South, however, lacked the large cities and broad consumer demand that catalyzed changes in other parts of the country. Nonetheless, in contrast to older stereotypes, southerners did not shun industrial development when profits were possible. Even in the Appalachian South, where the rugged terrain presented particular challenges, southern entrepreneurs formed companies as early as 1760 to take advantage of the region's natural resources.

In Mountains on the Market: Industry, the Environment, and the South, Randal L. Hall charts the economic progress of the New River Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, which became home to a wide variety of industries. By the start of the Civil War, railroads had made their way into the area, and the mining and processing of lead, copper, and iron had long been underway. Covering 250 years of industrialization, environmental exploitation, and the effects of globalization, Mountains on the Market situates the New River Valley squarely in the mainstream of American capitalism.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: New Directions in Southern History

Front Cover

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Title Page, Frontispiece, Dedication, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-12

Thomas Jefferson bears much responsibility for the longtime idealism about agrarian life in the United States, but he also revealed a deep faith in the power of industry and commerce. “All the world is becoming commercial,” he informed George Washington in March 1784. “Our citizens have had...

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Chapter 1: Industrial Inroads and Pragmatic Patriots

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pp. 13-43

The Blue Ridge chain provided both a natural and a political barrier for colonial Virginians, but entrepreneurs increasingly breached that wall in the mid-eighteenth century. At the end of the 1750s, leading Virginians saw the potential of the lead deposits on the New River, and they purposefully...

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Chapter 2: Turnpikes to Ore and More

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pp. 44-73

Prosperous northeastern cities and their fertile hinterlands led the young United States into a new industrial age in the first half of the nineteenth century, but the comparatively rural white people in the South continued to prosper in older ways. Because the lack of cities limited consumer markets...

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Chapter 3: Wheels and Rails in the New America

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pp. 74-102

The entrepreneurs of the Blue Ridge trod a rugged business terrain. Like their counterparts in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, they contributed to the dizzying growth of American industry. Yet they also lived in and supported a society that countenanced slavery, and they defended it with hands-on...

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Chapter 4: Corporate Peaks in the Valley

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pp. 103-129

In the twentieth century, on a scale larger than ever before, the Appalachian rocks yielded to the urge for profit, and new entrepreneurs started money flowing in new ways: hydroelectric power, sulfuric acid, and carbide. During the so-called American century, capitalism on New River rose and fell...

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Chapter 5: Left Behind

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pp. 130-158

For the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the lives of workers in the New River valley show through to us only in flashes, secondhand snippets here and there. During the twentieth century, however, workers witnessed major changes in industrial life, and better corporate record keeping, the onset of...


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pp. 159-160

Appendixes on Technology

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pp. 161-182


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pp. 183-272


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pp. 273-288

Series Page

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813136493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813136240

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: New Directions in Southern History
Series Editor Byline: Peter S. Carmichael, Michele Gillespie, & William A. Link See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 826442789
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mountains on the Market

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Subject Headings

  • Industrialization -- New River Valley (N.C.-W. Va.) -- History.
  • Natural resources -- New River Valley (N.C.-W. Va.) -- History.
  • New River Valley (N.C.-W. Va.) -- Economic conditions.
  • New River Valley (N.C.-W. Va.) -- Commerce -- History.
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