Mary Aspinall

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Stonewall Jackson Dam Removal


This series consists of original recordings of audio interviews resulting from Michael Kline's work during 1984 - 1985 documenting the experience of Lewis County, West Virginia residents forced to leave their homes by the construction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Stonewall Jackson Flood Control Dam. Thirty-five recorded interviews with residents, planners, politicians and lawmen were drawn upon to create an audio documentary, "We're Here To Take You Out," which explored the impact and collateral, human costs of such projects on rural life, arts, and values.

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Date of Interview

National Capital Contracting 

Biographical Sketch

Mary Aspinall, a farmer, has lived in the Stonewall Jackson Lake area for forty years. Originally from the Roanoke area, she and her husband moved to their current farm after the dam was proposed on the West Fork River. Prior to their current farming endeavors, the Aspinalls owned a farm in the Roanoke area. Their decision to relocate was influenced by the proposed construction of a dam on the West Fork River, which promised new opportunities and challenges for the local agricultural community. Over the years, Mary has become an outspoken member of her community, often voicing her concerns and experiences related to land ownership, government policies, and the socio-economic impacts of local development projects. Her family's history in farming and land ownership stretches back generations.

Scope and Content Note
This interview with Mary Aspinall offers a comprehensive insight into the experiences of rural landowners impacted by government projects and policies in the Stonewall Jackson Lake area. The conversation covers a broad range of topics, including the initial relocation of the Aspinall family due to the construction of a dam, their subsequent challenges with government compensation, and broader concerns regarding the environmental and community impact of such projects. Mary articulates a sense of frustration with governmental handling of land acquisition, particularly in relation to the Stonecoal project, and reflects on the personal and communal losses incurred as a result. Additionally, the interview delves into specific incidents that highlight tensions between landowners and government or corporate entities, such as disputes over land rights and confrontations with surveyors. Mary also shares her perspectives on the socio-economic dynamics of the community, criticizing certain welfare programs and subsidies while advocating for more substantial support for self-reliant individuals and small farmers. 

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