Which states make up "Appalachia"?

It has been a bit of a surprise to me, a Tennessean, to learn that 9-10% of the respondents to What “region” is Tennessee a part of? had chosen – as their one answer – “Appalachia.”

I was equally surprised to learn after looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachia that there are at least four states that I would not have named if somebody asked me to name all the states in that area.

So I thought this poll/thread might be fun for some of us “geography fans.”

Multiple Choice Public Poll on the way.

Well I know that Chautauqua County, the westernmost white region in your map in New York, is not considered part of Appalachia because I grew up there and no one mentioned being part of Appalachia ever. It’s a grape-growing, Lake Erie county that thinks much more about Erie and Buffalo than about Cincinatti let alone the rest of Appalachia.

Which isn’t to say that the rest of the Southern Tier counties in New York do not belong in the Appalachian Regional Commission, because they do share similar economic characteristics with Appalachia – Fossil Fuels, former industry, logging, hunting, rurality, and probably poverty – it’s just that as far as I know the citizens don’t feel any cultural connection to the more southern parts of Appalachia, although I could be wrong.

NM. Incomplete post.

I missed New York, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama. But they’re really on the fringes, geographically and culturally. (The Appalachians go as far southwest as Mississippi? Hm. Learn something every day.)

According to that map, I have lived in the extreme NE and SW part of Appalachia and also very close to the geographic center.

No way do I consider NY and MS part of Appalachia in the same region as I consider Eastern Tennessee.

I voted for GA, TN, SC, NC, VA, KY and WV.

Appalachia includes parts of many states, but I wouldn’t consider the whole state Appalachian. The mountains start in GA and go up through TN, NC, KY, VA, WV, PA and, really, all the way up to Maine. But I don’t know anyone who would consider Maine to be “Appalachia.” Neither is west Tennessee or western Kentucky.

I thought this was implicit. The only state that is entirely within Appalachia is West Virginia.

If any place is Appalachian, then Southeastern Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania should be included. I’ve spent a lot of time in both places. There’s no mistaking the Appalachian character of those places.

The Wiki article appears to have a more “cultural” than “geographical” slant, so the map was amusing more than informative to me. My focus in voting was “the mountains” and I chose the states where the Appalachians run, but stopped on the way North at Pennsylvania. I know the Appalachian Trail starts (or ends) in Georgia so I include it, but Maine is too far from the coal mining and “mountain culture” for my own classification.

West Virginia appears (at this stage) to make everybody’s list, along with Kentucky. This picture may wind up being very educational.

I think the boundaries of the Appalachian Regional Commission are more a reflection of where states were trying to get economic redevelopment money than any kind of shared cultural area, or even geographic similarity. Binghamton, NY might be kind of rural, but culturally and economically it’s no more Appalachia than, say, Iowa. (It’s kind of hard to argue Binghamton is really isolated, when it was a central canal and then railroad intersection)

I suspect the huge swath of Mississippi and Alabama is in the same boat (a hint: no mountains in Mississippi). I don’t know much about central Pennsylvania, but suspect it’s transitional at best. Possibly there’s a little too much of Tennessee included; I’m not sure about Kentucky. I’d guess NC and VA are about right.

I take them as the states that the Appalachian Trail runs through from PA south.

Yes. There’s two definitions here, I think. There’s a physical geographic definition, as well as a cultural one. The lands of West Virginia mountain men, Kentucky moonshiners, and Pennsylvania coal miners are Appalachia. Upstate New York, not so much.

True. Wise, VA may be Appalachia, but Alexandria, VA or Virginia Beach, VA definitely are NOT!

I just want to pronounce “Appalachia” as Les Nessman did: App-ah-la-CHEE-ah. :slight_smile:

Yeah, to me Appalachia is mopre of a cultural thing than a physical mountain thing. And I say that as a West Virginian.

I’ve always heard Appalachia described as the ‘hillbilly’ zone, not the entire area encompassed by the Appalachian Mountain range. It was a cultural grouping of poor mountain folk.


I’m from the Cleveland area – obviously not Appalachia, although a lot of transplants from “the hills” live in the counties of Cuyahoga and Lorain. I’ve also been in Athens (several members of my family attended Ohio University) enough to know it’s part of Appalachia. I didn’t pick Pennsylvania, but I might have had I spent more time in the southwestern part of that state.

I attended Virginia Wesleyan College (Norfolk-Virginia Beach line) and concur. When friends who had grown up in the Old Dominion wanted to refer to the quintessential Appalachia school, they mentioned Clinch Valley, which is now the University of Virginia at Wise (UVa-Wise for short).

I picked West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky. I’d say this map gives Ohio a bit too much Appalachia land, is about right for Virginia, and shorts Kentucky somewhat.

All of West Virginia
The tiniest part of the southernmost tip of Ohio (I’m talkin’ South Point/Chesapeake here)
Eastern Kentucky starting about an hour east of Lexington
Parts of Virginia (damned if I know what parts)
Eastern Tennessee

Went with TN, KY, VA, NC, SC, PA, OH - though I think OH is debatable.

Yep. It’s more like which states contain Appalachia than make up Appalachia. There are parts of the states I voted for that are more urban/suburban/exurban, or more Southern. Or what have you. It’s definitely not divided along state lines.

My list would be
SW edge of Pennsylvania
SE edge of Ohio
West Maryland (Garret, Allegany and Washington counties)
All of West Virginia
Eastern third of Kentucky
Eastern third of Tennessee
SW corner of Virginia
Western edge of North Carolina

I lived in Alabama for a while, and wouldn’t consider any part of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, or South Carolina to be Appalachian. Basically trim the Wikipedia map a lot at the bottom, a fair amount at the top, and a tiny bit on the sides, and that would be my view of Appalachia.