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Hometown History

99 EpisodesProduced by Shane WatersWebsite

Personally curated histories from hometowns around America. Join Shane Waters as he travels to places of forgotten historical significance and shares these hometown stories with listeners. Like his visit to the Cherokee Nation in Cherokee, North Carolina where he interviewed the Cherokee at The Muse… read more

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96: New Harmony, Part 2

February 6th, 2023

21:51
Today Jennifer Greene from the University of Southern Indiana is back with us. Jennifer is going to give us a little more insight on New Harmony, The Harmonist, and there way of life.

Episode 2 of 3.

Find us on all …

95: New Harmony, Part 1

January 30th, 2023

25:00
I'm talking with Jennifer Greene today about one of my favorite hometowns in all of America - New Harmony, Indiana. New Harmony was founded by a religious commune nearly 200 years ago and despite the fact that only 700 …

94: Paradise Spring

January 23rd, 2023

18:26
Long time listeners will know that we’ve been all over the country finding stories - from Florida to Washington State, from Texas to Minneapolis. All …

93: Our Visit to the Beat Museum, Part 02

January 16th, 2023

29:58
Last episode we sat down with Brandon at the Beat Museum in San Francisco to learn more about the Beat Movement and the way it forever changed the way Americans have thought about not only literature but life itself.

92: Our Visit to the Beat Museum, Part 01

January 9th, 2023

21:53
In High School I read Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road, like everybody else.

So, when we were in San Francisco this past spring we stopped at the …

91: Reno, Nevada: Divorce Mills and Lost Cities

January 2nd, 2023

24:20
After our episode on “the Conqueror’s Curse,” we invited Richard Moreno back to the studio to talk more about the history of the city of Reno. One of the reasons I invited Richard back was to help introduce us to the …

90: The Conquerer's Curse

December 26th, 2022

17:03
Some would say the 1956 movie, The Conqueror, was cursed from the beginning.

It had a terrible script, an unhappy crew, and a producer, in Howard …

89: Virginia City

December 19th, 2022

36:45
This episode will be a little different in that we’ll be taking you deep underground in Virginia City. This is the city where Mark Twain worked at a local paper in his younger years and became the writer we know and …

From Team Hometown History, Introducing: Mystery Inc

December 14th, 2022

1:20
From the same team that brings you Hometown History, we want to introduce you to Shane's new show Mystery Inc.

If you enjoy talking about shady mysteries, Aliens, murder, legends, and of course the occasional tea - …

88: Crescent City

December 11th, 2022

28:22
In this episode, Shane visits the former lumber town of Crescent City, California, right at the edge of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Among other things, this quiet coastal village is known for having been hit …

87: Pig War / San Juan National Historic Park, Part 2

December 5th, 2022

26:12
When things go as well as they did during the Pig War, it can be easy to forget just how wrong they could have gone. I asked former Chief of …

86: Pig War / San Juan National Historic Park, Part 1

November 28th, 2022

34:00
Have you ever had a fight with a family member over something stupid?
Better yet, have you ever had that fight, only to realize it wasn’t so stupid after all? That behind that excuse for a fight was a real fight just …

85: The North Cascades National Park

November 21st, 2022

33:46
After writing "On The Road," and before it was published, Jack Kerouac spent a long summer on Desolation Peak in what is now the North Cascades …

84: Crater Lake National Park

November 14th, 2022

33:15
Before we explore Crater Lake National Park, I’d like to share a few pieces of general advice. I hope this series has inspired you to see more of our national parks, so I asked Jim and Will from More Than Just Parks to …

83: Bring Back the Civilian Conservation Corps

November 7th, 2022

20:34
The Civilian Conservation Corps was founded by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, and operated for roughly a decade until the program was ended in 1942.

In this episode, Jim and Will Pattiz, from More Than Just Parks, …

82: Lake Mead, America's First National Recreational Area

October 31st, 2022

40:10
If you're looking to learn about the history of the Lake Mead National Recreational Area and what to expect if you go, this will be an episode you won't want to miss.

Ad-free episodes are available on our Apple …

81: Death Valley National Park

October 17th, 2022

35:40
In 1820, the well-known British writer, Sydney Smith, mocked the United States for its lack of culture and sophistication:

In the four quarters of …

80: Grand Canyon National Park

October 10th, 2022

29:22
There’s a scene in the show Mad Men that shook me up the first time I saw it. It’s probably not the one you think.

In the very first episode, the Draper family picnics along the interstate. The grass is green, the …

79: Redwoods National Park

October 3rd, 2022

35:54
One of my favorite movies as a kid was The Lorax. When I first saw The Lorax, I had some sense that it was about protecting the environment. But it’s more than a cartoon. It’s a thinly veiled environmental manifesto. I …

78: Yellowstone National Park

September 26th, 2022

43:54
Have you ever heard the saying that “Life imitates art”?

The person who coined this phrase was Oscar Wilde, the 19th century poet. Some say he was the first modern celebrity. What Wilde meant was simply that art often …

77: Yosemite National Park

September 19th, 2022

42:32
There’s not much in life you can understand without context.
When it comes to the systematic destruction of our planet during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, the context is this – for the first 300,000 years of human …

Welcome to Hometown History

September 13th, 2022

0:30

Welcome to the Hometown History Podcast

76: National Parks Introduction with More Than Just Parks

September 12th, 2022

36:03
In my opinion, the single best online resource for visiting America’s national parks, or even appreciating them from afar, is a site called More Than Just Parks. You can find it at morethanjustparks.com. This site is …

75: Levi Coffin: How to Save 2,000 People (Ep 2)

September 5th, 2022

25:04
Before we jump back into the story of the Levi and Catharine Coffin, the so-called “President” and first-lady of the Underground Railroad, I thought …

74: Levi Coffin: How to Save 2,000 People (Ep 1)

August 29th, 2022

19:31
Central Region Director of the Indiana State Museum system. Joanna also manages the Levi & Catharine Coffin State Historic Site, which is where we are today. This small brick home has been called the Underground …

73: Andrew Jackson - The Hermitage: Episode 2

August 23rd, 2022

16:12
If you were with us last episode you’ll recognize the voice of Erin Adams, Director of Education at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, the former home of our 7th President, and current museum dedicated to preserving his life …

72: Andrew Jackson - The Hermitage: Episode 1

August 15th, 2022

23:43
What’s the first step in becoming the most powerful man in America?
For our 7th president, Andrew Jackson, the first step in his journey to …

71: Parker’s Cross Roads, TN

August 8th, 2022

30:42
I’d like to introduce one of my favorite voices among anyone I’ve ever interviewed.
Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee is a small town of about 284 people, but it has a big history. This place factored in the life of one of …

70: Parthenon

August 1st, 2022

21:27
When you think of Ancient Greece, what images pop into your head?

You probably think of the Olympics and philosophers like Plato and Socrates. You might think of stories like the Odyssey and the Iliad that you were …

69: Sun Studio, Part 3

July 25th, 2022

14:29
That’s the voice of Dewey Phillips hosting his radio show called “Red, Hot & Blue,” on WHBQ, a Memphis station. In the 1950s, more than 100,000 …

68: Sun Studio, Part 2

July 18th, 2022

24:16
In 2015, musical artist Jack White paid $300,000 for a 78-rpm record at auction. The record was of Elvis Presley singing the songs “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” It was the first record Elvis …

67: Sun Studio, Part 1

July 11th, 2022

18:58
You’re hearing the song “Rocket 88,” widely considered to be the first rock and roll song ever recorded. It was recorded here, at Sun Studio, by …

66: Fort Negley

July 4th, 2022

20:49
In December 1864, Confederate troops were moving toward Nashville with a plan. Union troops had occupied this southern city for the last two years, and Lieutenant General John Bell Hood wanted to take it back.

Luckily, …

65: Talking in Memphis with Historian Wayne Dowdy

June 27th, 2022

24:21
Those are a few lines from a song called “Beale Street Blues.” The most famous performance of that song came from Louis Armstrong, but it was written by a man named W.C. Handy, who called himself the “Father of the …

64: French Family Murders, Part 4: The Hanging

June 20th, 2022

20:29
It was raining on the day of the execution. As Fletcher described it,

The rain during the forenoon had the effect of making the streets and almost
every other place exceedingly sloppy and muddy. The ground having …

63: French Family Murders, Part 3: The Trial

June 13th, 2022

20:04
Before it was called Richvalley, the community the French family was living in was known as Keller Station. Isaac Keller and his brother owned large …

62: French Family Murders, Part 2: The Hubbards

June 6th, 2022

22:18
Aaron French moved in from Cincinnati.
He had only been here approximately 6 Months. So he himself was a transient character, he had attempted to be …

61: French Family Murders, Part 1: The Frenches

May 30th, 2022

21:16
I remember the first time I tried to visit the French family grave, just outside of Wabash, Indiana.
It was a Sunday, in the middle of the winter, …

60: The Peshtigo Fire

May 23rd, 2022

13:11
The sky to the west of the small town of Peshtigo (PESH-ti-go [not pesh-TEE-go]), Wisconsin glowed red before the sunrise, on the morning of October 8th, 1871. It was Sunday, and when the local priest stepped out of his …

59: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 8

May 16th, 2022

16:42
The day after leaving Copper County, I took the obligatory cruise of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It might be the one thing up here that people from outside the UP are likely to have heard of. And these open …

58: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 7

May 9th, 2022

16:05
That sound you hear in the background is the hoist control of the Quincy Mine just outside Hancock, Michigan, where we’re heading today.

Quincy is …

57: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 6

May 2nd, 2022

17:45
So, the motel that I stayed at in Eagle Harbor, Fletchy's Otter Belly Lodge, formerly the Shoreline Motel, was apparently the location of well-known …

56: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 5

April 25th, 2022

17:50
One of the things I’d heard about my next stop, Phoenix, Michigan, was that it was home to a well-known bridge troll – but instead of a bridge, it …

55: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 4

April 18th, 2022

29:31
The following morning, my first real stop across the canal, apart from gawking at random pieces of rotting machinery, was the ghost town of …

54: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 3

April 11th, 2022

13:33
The first mining boom in American history was not the California Gold Rush, the Klondike Gold Rush, or any other gold rush. The first mining boom in …

53: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 2

April 4th, 2022

12:41
The distinctive sound of the Mackinaw Bridge is due to the grating in the two center lanes, one going each way. This grating allows air to pass through the bridge rather than pushing against it.

Part of the reason for …

52: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Part 1

March 28th, 2022

10:46
No, there’s nothing wrong with your audio. That sound is the gateway to the best place to live in the year 2100, at least in North America. And, depending on what you like, it may be the best place right now. Or you …

51: Alcatraz East, The Smokey Mountain Museum of Crime

March 14th, 2022

14:46
This episode is focused less on the history of a hometown, than a hometown that specializes in history.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is famous for tourist attractions and southern hospitality but it’s also a hotbed of …

50: Biltmore Mansion: The Greatest Home in America

February 28th, 2022

17:04
I don’t know a better way to introduce this episode than by just saying the Biltmore estate is one of my favorite places in the world.

It’s the largest private home in the United States and it’s simply unrivaled on …

49: The Museum of the Cherokee Indian (Part 2)

February 14th, 2022

21:43
The Cherokee don’t believe in signatures.
Who can blame them?
In 1763, the British signed a proclamation preventing white colonization west of the …

48: The Museum of the Cherokee Indian (Part 1)

January 30th, 2022

13:03
The Cherokee don’t believe in signatures.
Who can blame them?
In 1763, the British signed a proclamation preventing white colonization west of the …

47: Oak Ridge: The Forgotten City of the Nuclear Age (Part 2)

January 18th, 2022

18:56
On a warm summer day in 1900, the village idiot of Oak Ridge, Tennessee laid on his back in the middle of the woods and heard the voice of God. 

46: Oak Ridge: The Forgotten City of the Nuclear Age (Part 1)

January 3rd, 2022

15:50
On a warm summer day in 1900, the village idiot of Oak Ridge, Tennessee laid on his back in the middle of the woods and heard the voice of God.

45: Lepa Radic

December 13th, 2021

11:19
17-year-old Lepa Radić was a Yugoslavian partisan, having joined the communist party at age 15. Two years later, while tending to the wounded at the …

44: Indiana Bell Building

December 6th, 2021

7:45
In 1930, a local architect moved a 11,000 tons building in downtown Indianapolis, using hand-powered jacks and an ingenious engineering solution.

43: Belle Boyd: Siren of the Shenandoah

November 29th, 2021

10:37
She was known by many names - the Siren of the Shenandoah, the Rebel Joan of Arc, the Cleopatra of Secession – but when the first shots were fired at …

41: The Hunt for the Friends of Dorothy

November 8th, 2021

9:16
We’ve named this episode after The Hunt for the Red October because it’s kind of like that, but instead of a Soviet submarine, the search is on for a …

40: Elizabeth Van Lew

November 1st, 2021

11:10
The year is 1861 and America is in the grips of a bloody Civil War that will change it forever. In Richmond, the capital of the new Confederate States, Southern Belles and Ladies are sewing uniforms, throwing …

39: Buried Alive in Wolf Park

October 25th, 2021

9:54
On July 17, 1904, 500 residents of Hammond, Indiana gathered together one unseasonably hot summer afternoon, wearing their Sunday best, to watch an …

38: The Princes in the Tower

October 18th, 2021

13:10
In 1647, laborers toiling away at the Tower of London uncovered two small skeletons while clearing away rubble from a staircase. 

Had the discovery …

37: Bill Russell in Marion, Indiana

October 12th, 2021

5:17
I just recently learned that NBA legend Bill Russell once came to my hometown of Marion, Indiana during the 1960's. The result of this brief stay was …

36: Straw Hat Riots of 1922

October 4th, 2021

5:30
In 1922, thousands of teenagers in Manhattan went on a straw hat smashing spree that sent many of them to jail, and some of their victims to the hospital. The exact reasons for the riot are unclear, but a clue from …

35: The Worst Speech in History

September 27th, 2021

6:46
There are just times when you need a great speech. These times are rare, but they exist. This episode is about a time like this, when America need a speech and the President of the United States stood with his hat in …

34: The Case of Henry Livermore Abbott

September 20th, 2021

12:29

On a cold morning, October 21st, 1861, an officer in the Union army named Major Henry Livermore Abbott led the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment …

33: The Stabbing of Monica Seles

September 13th, 2021

9:35
Sometimes the bad guys win.

Sometimes the people with the worst intentions get what they want in life and their victims lose everything, like when one unemployed German lathe operator attempted to murder the best …

32: America's Cincinnatus

September 6th, 2021

5:57
One of the most important hometowns in American history is Alexandria, Virginia. Along with being the wealthiest city in Virginia, Alexandria is home to the Institute for Defense. Analyses, the United States Patent and …

31: Forgotten Third Battle of the American Civil War

August 23rd, 2021

7:46
The first battle of the Civil War was the Battle of Fort Sumter, off the coast of South Carolina, in early April 1861. A week later, something like a …

30: The Italian Hall Disaster of 1913

August 9th, 2021

7:46
Sometimes known as the 1913 Massacre, the Italian Hall Disaster was a tragedy that occurred on December 24th, 1913 in Calumet, Michigan. 73 people were crushed to death in a stampede when someone falsely shouted "fire" …

29: The Potsdam Giants

July 19th, 2021

7:02
Sometime in 1678, the mighty Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I, known as the “soldier king” of Europe’s most warlike state, sat in his heavily padded …

28: Madam C.J. Walker, Part 2: 1st Female Self-Made Millionaire

July 13th, 2021

12:26

Part 2 - Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove; December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919) was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and …

27: Madam C.J. Walker, Part 1: 1st Female Self-Made Millionaire

June 21st, 2021

10:41
Part 1 - Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove; December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919) was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and …

26: Robert Smalls

June 14th, 2021

9:49
How have I never heard of Robert Smalls?I’m betting you haven’t either. Smalls was an antebellum slave and real-life action hero who fought without …

25: The Dumb Blonde Stereotype

June 7th, 2021

10:55
Does Blonde hair make you dumb? No, seriously does it? Let’s track the history of this stereotype and find out if it’s true.

Visit us online at itshometownhistory.com

24: Dear H.H. Holmes, Part 2

May 17th, 2021

11:31
This is the 2nd half of our Dear H.H. Holmes episode. Meet Almeda Huiet, of Wabash County, Indiana. Possibly the first Chicago victim of infamous …

23: Dear H.H. Holmes, Part 1

May 10th, 2021

34:48

Could this be the first Chicago victim of infamous serial killer H.H. Holmes? In Chicago on a cold November morning in 1888, the body of a young lady …

22: Black Like Me

May 3rd, 2021

8:26
Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup that white performers have used throughout history to portray, and demean, black people. The dark substance …

21: Monopoly

April 19th, 2021

8:56

Have you ever heard of The Landlord's Game, created by Elizabeth Magie? Well if you haven't, you certainly aren't alone. Elizabeth Magie's creation …

20: The Cadaver Synod

April 12th, 2021

14:37
World history is filled with strange occurrences, from deadly fashion trends to wars fought on baseless grounds. However, none are as weird as the Cadaver Synod, which saw the decaying corpse of a pope being screamed at …

19: Abraham Lincoln's Springfield Home

April 5th, 2021

24:43

The centerpiece of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site is the former home of our 16th president, where he lived with his young family for …

18: April Fools' Day

March 29th, 2021

13:18

The first of April is widely regarded as an unofficial holiday reserved for pranks and hoaxes that seem too ridiculous to be believed yet are …

17: Liberty's First Crisis

March 22nd, 2021

32:52

When the founding fathers of the United States began adding amendments to the U.S. Constitution to help secure rights and safeguard a free society, the first thing they focused on was the most fundamental: free …

16: Benjamin Franklin and the Bald Eagle

March 15th, 2021

27:04

I think since the very beginning, America has struggled with the question of whether it was a turkey or an eagle. Visit us online at itshometownhistory.comEpisode Sponsors:Get key nutrients without the B.S. - Get 10% …

15: The Two-Party System

March 8th, 2021

18:39

Those of you who have listened to my podcasts over the past few years will know how I feel about the discipline of history. It’s been one of the great joys in my life and I believe it’s made me a better thinker, a …

14: Black Powder Explosions

March 1st, 2021

35:19

If you lived outside the town of Wilmington, Delaware during the 19th century you probably found yourself, at some point during the week, sitting at the Burning Rag Inn, downing a glass of lukewarm ale. You’d be there …

13: Misfits, Part 5: Hetty Green

February 15th, 2021

31:13

Nicknamed the Witch of Wall Street, Hetty Green was an American businesswoman and financier known as the richest woman in America during the late 19th century. She was known for her wealth and was named by the Guinness …

12: Misfits, Part 4: Diogenes

February 2nd, 2021

16:56

The 4th person we are highlighting in our misfits series is Diogenes the Cynic, known more commonly as Diogenes. He was born in Sinope (modern day Turkey) around 404BC (or 412BC, its not exactly clear) and died at …

11: Misfits, Part 3: George Dibbern

January 15th, 2021

22:06

Born in 1889, George Dibbern was an author, adventurer, and sailor-philosopher. He was a free thinker, self-declared citizen of the world and is our 3rd Misfits in our series.Visit us online at …

10: Misfits, Part 2: Tarrare

December 15th, 2020

16:03

Tarrare was born in 1772 in rural France. He was born hungry, and seemingly that hunger never went away. This 2nd episode in our Misfits series is focused on one of history's most fascinating people - a man noted for …

9: Misfits, Part 1: Emperor Norton

December 1st, 2020

19:16

Introducing Part 1 of our Misfits mini-series.  Joshua Norton proclaimed himself "Norton I, Emperor of the United States" in 1859 from his home in San Francisco, California. If you've never heard of the only US Emperor, …

8: Islands of Michigan, Part 6: Belle Isle

November 15th, 2020

13:58

Belle Isle is a 982-acre island park located immediately east of Detroit, Michigan, in the Detroit River. Connected to Detroit by the MacArthur Bridge, Belle Isle is the larked city-owned island park in the United …

7: Islands of Michigan, Part 5: The Manitou Islands

November 2nd, 2020

11:25

North and South Manitou Island can be found around 14 miles northwest of the Michigan mainland in Lake Michigan. The islands are very rich in history and are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

6: Islands of Michigan, Part 4: Mackinac Island

September 30th, 2020

14:40

Mackinac Island is a 4.35 square mile island located in Lake Huron between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Based on a former trading post, …

5: Islands of Michigan, Part 3: The Fox Islands and the Children of the Snow

September 15th, 2020

10:13

The Fox Islands consist of the North Fox and South Fox islands, in Lake Michigan. North Fox Island was once home to a pornography mill, the details are darker than you can imagine. This episode is narrated by Nina …

4: Islands of Michigan, Part 2: High Island and the House of Virgins

September 1st, 2020

9:39
High Island is an island in Lake Michigan and is part of the Beaver Island archipelago. It was the home of a timber-cutting and truck farm operation from 1912-1927 ran by the House of David. And... it is presumably …

3: Islands of Michigan, Part 1: Beaver Island and the Last American King

August 10th, 2020

13:27
Every king in American history has been assassinated in the harbor of St. James, Michigan. And also born in the tiny town of Scipio, New York. And married to five women. And every king has owned a personal cannon and …

2: The Real Dorothy & The Wizard of Oz

July 1st, 2020

10:38
Have you ever wondered who the character Dorothy was based on in The Wizard of Oz? Well, I think I found her. And I believe much more than the character was based on her tragic young life. Let me explain...

In the back …

1: The First Electrically Lighted City

May 1st, 2018

13:38
"From the towering dome of the Courthouse at 8 p.m. on March 31, 1880, burst a flood of lights that made world history. Wabash had a population of …
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