The Mountains Won't Remember Us Blog

By Green River Preserve

The Mountains Won’t Remember Us. Not only is this the title of a remarkable collection of fiction by Robert Morgan, it is also a hauntingly beautiful fact of life. All of our concerns, our dramas, our struggles and achievements seem trivial compared to the incomparably vast lifetime of the mountains on earth. Even the youngest mountain chain in the world, the Himalayas, are older than our species. And yet, our lives seem so important, and our day-to-day struggles feel as real and pertinent as the mountains themselves. And in a way, they are. Though we come and go in the blink of an eye geologically speaking, our lives still have meaning, and what we do still matters and is still relevant.

It all began one night when I was having dinner with the Meads at their house on the Preserve, and Sandy and Missy Schenck came by to say “hello” and chat. Sandy started telling stories about the history of Green River Preserve and the people that lived in the valley long ago, people whose lives seem more like characters in a story than real life people. Sandy brought up the book The Mountains Won’t Remember Us and mentioned how one of the more gruesome and heart-wrenching stories in the collection took place right on the front field at GRP. That story was called “Watershed,” which chronicles the story of the Spirit Winds Massacre, or the death of a Native American group by the hands of early Appalachian settlers. Sandy was telling me how all of this took place right outside our doorstep and that it is chronicled in Robert Morgan’s book. I was intrigued and wanted to read this book, so Sandy lent me his copy that lived in his office.

What immediately struck me upon starting the book was how real the characters were. How easily I was able to empathize with the struggles and passions that they experienced. When I read “Watershed,” I was covered in goose bumps and shivering from head to toe, knowing that the story I was reading, about the massacre of dozens of innocent men woman and children, took place in the field that I was looking at that very moment. The same field that I take my guitar out to in the evening and sing songs to pacify the spirits that still inhabit that hallowed ground, the same field where I have had countless moments of bliss during the summer with children from all over the country. And yet, the mountains don’t care. The same mountains that witnessed that massacre won’t remember the innocent lives that were taken that day, and they surely won’t remember us.

I wrote Mr. Morgan to let him know how much I enjoyed his collection of stories, and how meaningful and relevant it was for me to be reading it while living out at GRP this fall, where many of the stories take place. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from Mr. Morgan where he thanked me for the kind words that I wrote to him and told me that he enjoyed the opportunity to write the local history of the Green River Valley as told to him by his father, Clyde Morgan.

We write stories and we remember, for a time. We do our best to put down what is important in books so that our descendents, our culture and our species will know what we found moving, meaningful and important in our lives and in our life time. If you have spent any time out at GRP or in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, then you will certainly enjoy Mr. Morgan’s book. Even if you haven’t been out to GRP or the mountains, as long as you are human, you can relate to and be moved by the trials, tribulations and struggles of people not so different from you and me. We come and go, but the mountains remain. And they won’t remember us.

Peter Strand