"Answer at Once"
With the Commonwealth of Virginia's Public Park Condemnation Act of 1928, the statesurveyed for and acquired three thousand tracts of land that would become Shenandoah National Park. The Commonwealth condemned the homes of five hundred families so that their land could be ",donated",to the federal government and placed under the auspices of the National Park Service. Prompted bythe condemnation of their land, the residents began writing letters to National Park and othergovernment officials to negotiate their rights and to request various services, property, andharvests. Typically represented in the popular media as lawless, illiterate, and incompetent, thesemountaineers prove themselves otherwise in this poignant collection of letters. The history told bythe residents themselves both adds to and counters the story that is generally accepted aboutthem.These letters are housed in the Shenandoah National Park archivesin Luray, Virginia, which was opened briefly to the public from 2000 to 2002, but then closed due tolack of funding. This selection of roughly 150 of these letters, in their entirety, makes thesedocuments available again not only to the public but also to scholars, researchers, and othersinterested in the region's history, in the politics of the park, and in the genealogy of thefamilies. Supplementing the letters are introductory text, photographs, annotation, and oralhistories that further document the lives of these individuals.
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