Updated 9/3/13

In Podcast #58 the Trekkers go back to the Appalachian Plateau Region. First we pay a visit to the 4th grade students at Coeburn Primary School in Wise County.  Watch them perform some fine Appalachian clogging; then get lost with us as we try to find the Guest River; visit the Southwest Virginia Museum in Big Stone Gap; see some cool coal mining equipment at the Harry Meador Coal Museum; find out how you can get a highway named after yourself like Helen Henderson from Buchanan County; and explore the amazing Virginia City Hybrid Power Plant in St. Paul where electricity is produced from coal and biomass. Come on, let’s go trekking!

An important part of the Virginia City Hybrid Power Plant, the stator, required months of planning to transport it to St. Paul because it’s so huge and heavy (400 tons).  It was built in Japan, shipped to Louisiana, carried by river barge to Tennessee, and then hauled along Virginia’s highways by two giant trucks named “Big Daddy” and “Big John.” The combined weight of the stator and the hauling rig was 640 tons!  It was one of the heaviest loads to travel on Virginia’s highways, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation, and they had to take special precautions when crossing bridges.  As the 265-foot long rig passed through various towns along its route, people came out to watch the parade and cheer it on its way.  Since it could only travel between 6-15 mph it mostly traveled at night. A stator is part of an electric generator. It’s the part that remains stationary (still) while the rotor is the part inside that spins to generate electricity (very similar to the electromagnet that Michael Faraday developed in the 1820’s).  Source #1, Source #2, Source #3,

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SOL Correlation:


2.3 The student will identify and compare changes in community life over time in terms of buildings, jobs, transportation, and population.


2.7 The student will describe natural resources (water, soil, wood, and coal), human resources (people at work), and capital resources (machines, tools, and buildings).


2.7 The student will investigate and understand that weather and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings. Key concepts include

  1. b)weathering and erosion of land surfaces.


3.2 The student will investigate and understand simple machines and their uses. Key concepts include

  1. c)examples of simple and compound machines found in the school, home, and work environments.


3.6 The student will investigate and understand that ecosystems support a diversity of plants and animals that share limited resources. Key concepts include

  1. d)the human role in conserving limited resources.


3.8 The student will recognize that because people and regions cannot produce everything they want, they specialize in producing some things and trade for the rest.


3.10 The student will investigate and understand that natural events and human influences can affect the survival of species. Key concepts include

d) conservation and resource renewal.


3.11  The student will investigate and understand different sources of energy. Key concepts include

b) sources of renewable energy

c) sources of nonrenewable energy.


4.3 The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of electricity. Key concepts include

  1. e)simple electromagnets and magnetism; and

f ) historical contributions in understanding electricity.


4.9 The student will investigate and understand important Virginia natural resources. Key concepts include

  1. c)minerals, rocks, ores, and energy sources;


VS.2b The student will demonstrate knowledge of the physical geography and native peoples, past and present, of Virginia by locating and describing Virginia’s Coastal Plain (Tidewater), Piedmont, Blue Ridge Mountains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau.


VS.8c The student will demonstrate knowledge of the reconstruction of Virginia following the Civil War by describing the importance of railroads, new industries, and the growth of cities to Virginia’s economic development.


VS.9a The student will demonstrate knowledge of twentieth- and twenty-first century Virginia by describing the economic and social transition from a rural, agricultural society to a more urban, industrialized society, including the reasons people came to Virginia from other states and countries.


VS.9d The student will demonstrate knowledge of twentieth- and twenty-first century Virginia by identifying the political, social, and/or economic contributions made by Maggie L. Walker, Harry F. Byrd, Sr., Oliver W. Hill, Sr., Arthur R. Ashe, Jr., A. Linwood Holton, Jr., and L. Douglas Wilder.


VS.10b The student will demonstrate knowledge of government, geography, and economics by describing the major products and industries of Virginia’s five geographic regions.

Appalachian Plateau

The 265-foot long rig, with its 248 wheels, carrying the stator. (Picture credits)