Just like everywhere else in the country, folks in Appalachia spent yesterday enjoying cookouts, eating watermelon, warning the kids not to burn themselves with sparklers, and maybe enjoying some patriotic music.
We grilled hot dogs and chilled our watermelon in the creek out back. (It takes up too much room in the refrigerator.)
But back in the day there was another way mountain folks celebrated Independence Day–back before they could buy fireworks at a stand in the Wal-Mart parking lot. It’s called anvil shooting.
The idea is to place one anvil upside down on the ground and fill the concave space in the bottom with black powder. Then, place a second anvil right-side-up on top of the powder-filled first. A fuse is stuck into the powder, lit, and the resulting explosion can send the 100+ pound top anvil up to 20 feet in the air.
This was done in place of fireworks for rural people who wanted something more spectacular than just firing off a hunting rifle. It allegedly sounds like cannon fire.
There are actually anvil shooting competitions now and an anvil shooting world champion from Missouri named Gay Wilkinson. He’s launched anvils as high as 200 feet. The good news is anvils generally fall close to the launching point. Even on a windy day.
I generally love all things Appalachian, but I think I’ll stick to sparklers for my celebrations!