Ingram family standing around a moonshine still in Franklin County, VA, in 1929. Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College

“Moonshine Capital of the World: A Visual History of Untaxed Whiskey in Franklin County, Virginia”

Environmental History 24 (July 2019): 584-596

I was born and raised in Franklin County, Virginia, also known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.” The people of Franklin County have been making, selling, and consuming illegal (untaxed) whiskey for centuries, but the meaning of this ancient tradition has changed over the years. In this “visual essay,” I discuss changes in the moonshine industry using a series of historical photographs that date from 1929 to 2019. Research for this article was conducted at the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, on the campus of Ferrum College. Most of the photographs were taken by the late, great Morris Stephenson, intrepid reporter for the Franklin News-Post, who probably saw more moonshine stills than any other person in American history during his lifetime. He was gracious enough to assist with my research, and this article was dedicated to his memory.