|Martin County Courthouse - Inez, Ky.|
To many, the Confederate flag is nothing more than a racist symbol of hatred. For others, however, it is a cultural and historic reference to ancestors who fought and lost their right to independence. While I am sure there are some Martin countians who wave the Confederate banner for the former reason, I am confident that the vast majority do so for the latter. The people of Martin County I know and those I encountered while in Inez were and are all warm-hearted and willing to extend a friendly greeting to a non-native.
This, however, is truer throughout Appalachia and rural Kentucky than it is in any urban setting. And some high-profile visitors received in Inez have given her residents opportunity to exercise this hospitality.
|Streetscape - Inez, Ky.|
I did not stop along the rural highways of Martin to stop and photograph the scenery. I wish that I had. Even with the negative environmental impacts caused by surface mining and mountaintop removal, reclamation efforts and untouched land leave behind spectacular vistas and images of quintessential Kentucky. It is no wonder then that until 1874, Inez was called Eden. Or that two of Martin County's other hamlets are named Lovely and Beauty.
I would love to return to Martin County. There is great history in the small communities of Warfield and Beauty. The questions though are how? and why? The road to Inez is certainly one that is, excepting the regular supply of coal trucks, less traveled. To arrive in Inez or in Martin County, one must make it their destination. I plan to do so again.
Sources: CNHI; Daily Yonder; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette