The History of Moonshining at the Waynesboro Public Library

Kevin-RiddleKevin Riddle, a traditional mountain craftsman will present a program titled, “History and Culture of Moonshining in the Southern Appalachian Mountains” at the Waynesboro Public Library on March 16.

Operating as “The Appalachian Craftsman”, Kevin Riddle is one of the very few individuals still coppersmithing large hand-hammered containers such as apple butter kettles.  He will be speaking from his knowledge as a coppersmith and his experience as a native mountain craftsman.  Riddle learned his trades from family members, some who were moonshiners, and by studying other regional “old-timers”.

In his little rustic workshop, Riddle starts with a flat sheet of copper and fashions it into kettles, pans, and other vessels, using techniques that have not changed for centuries.  However, he makes it clear that he will not make you an operable moonshine still, because state law prohibits it.  “The state makes a lot of money from alcohol sales and they hate competition,” states Riddle.

Riddle is also a pioneer style woodworker who practices the pre-industrial methods of using only hand-tools.  “With just hand-tools, one can take a freshly cut log and make it into useful wares for the home and farm,” says Riddle.

Riddle’s program will give an overview of how moonshine came to be embedded into the culture of the southern mountains, and will attempt to dispel some of the common misconceptions associated with Virginia’s ABC laws.  This Waynesboro Public Library program is being held in conjunction with a featuring of the book “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson.  Bryson’s book tells his story of walking the Appalachian Trail, and his entertaining commentaries on the history and culture of the areas he passed through.

Riddle often gives other programs related to traditional crafts and culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.  He can be contacted at Kevin@TheAppalachianCraftsman.com.