West Virginia meets Los Angeles! An account on our West Coast Tour by Beverly Walkup

By Kate Finneran
Appalachian Voices National Field Coordinator, 2011-12

This Spring I was honored to be asked to go to LA on the Appalachian Treasures Tour to speak on living with the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Beverly Walkup joined us on tour from beautiful Southern West Virginia.

Upon arrival at LAX I was met at the airport by my speaking partner, Lenny Kohm, who drove me to my hotel. Near the hotel I was surprised to see the oil storage drums in the LA area. With this many oil wells why was gas $4.39 a gallon near the airport I wondered. Later that day we went to the 3 story Wal-Mart that was decked out in Art deco design. I had never seen a three story Wal-Mart before.

Sunday was the first day of our tour. We were to meet with the East Yard Communities, a local LA environmental group, at the Echo Country Outpost. To my surprise we were greeted with bluegrass music played by “Triple Chicken Foot.” One of the players in the group was originally from Wheeling, WV.He is now an animator working on the Homer Simpson show. He plays bluegrass on the weekend with his friends. I also met a woman named Ana Guzman and her husband. We became fast friends. She told me how to tell when an avocado is ripe, something I wanted to know for a long time. She has an avocado tree in her backyard that produces about 400 avocados a year.

On Monday our stop was at UU Fullerton were it again proved to be interesting. One of the interesting questions was “why doesn’t the health department do something about the pollution?” and that is a good question. There was a woman there who was originally from Charleston WV and she told the group that what we were saying was true and it has been this way for many years. For more information on the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining on Appalachian communities, please check out: The Human Cost of Coal.

Tuesday was a day off to explore the area. We had a radio interview with Nancy Pearlman who dose an environmental radio and television show in the LA area. That day we also seen the sites of Malibu Beach where I finally got to put my feet in the Pacific ocean for the first time. We also went to Hollywood and Beverly Hills!

Beverly Walkup of WV officially hits the West Coast!

Our final day was Wednesday and we ended the tour with a message to the All Saints Church in Beverly Hills. Again meeting very nice people including Barry, the pastor who had a rock & roll past, he was sound man for the group AC/DC. We also talked to Alexis Jolly who is a writer for the Dr. Oz show. Just goes to show you, you never know who you are going to meet on one of these trips.

I really enjoyed my time on the Appalachian Treasures Tour. It is a lot of work– but also very rewarding. This month they are heading to Washington State! For info about upcoming tours please check out the Appalachian Treasures tour.

For the mountains,

Beverly Walkup
Ansted Historical Preservation Society, Gauley Mountain WV


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