Life in Appalachia

Tom Jeff Cupp outside of his cabin
Tom Jeff Cupp sitting on the porch of his cabin, now known as Martins Fork cabin

Photo by Earl Palmer

Of the thousands of early pioneers and settlers that came through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky and beyond, many families settled in the region in and around what is now Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Many of these families were of Scots-Irish descent and brought with them their traditions, music, language, and methods of survival. Life in the mountains was sometimes harsh but the mountains were home to many of these families, some of which remain in the area today.

Numerous educational programs and activities offered at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park showcase life in the southern mountains.

farmer with Cumberland Mountain in background
Farmer working in a field near Caylor, Virginia with Cumberland Mountain in background

Photo by Earl Palmer

Survival in the southern mountains meant living off of the land. Between the mountain ridges, the valleys were much more fertile and better to farm. Wild plants served to cure many of the more common mountain ailments and crops such as corn and sorghum were staples of the people that lived throughout the region. Hogs, sheep, chickens, and some cattle provided food, milk, and eggs. All activities were generally geared toward survival.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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Mailing Address:

91 Bartlett Park Road
Middlesboro, KY 40965


(606) 248-2817

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