Letter writer: Book offers appreciation of interstate landscapes

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Max Hunt has provided a valuable historical article with his “Inroads: How Interstate Highways Changed the Face of WNC” [March 8, Xpress].

He obviously has been involved with, and knowledgeable about, the interstate highway system for a long time. I also have been involved with the interstates for a long time, but with a different perspective.

For a good number of years I have been writing a book, Interstate Landscapes – East: Physiography, Geology, and Ecology. This has been sort of a personal hobby or mission, and I would like to make it available in digital form to anyone who can use it, as they drive along the Eastern interstate highways — for free.

The initial inspiration for the book was observations made while driving along most of I-81 with my family many years ago and thinking that there was much to see along the route that most travelers were oblivious to — geology, physiography, vegetation, etc. “The interstates are so boring!” I started working on the book around 1984, but not continuously — there were many long gaps of time when I was doing other things, like making a living.

The book is divided into three parts: Part I, “Interstates of Eastern United States”; Part II, “Physiographic Provinces and Sections”; and Part III, “Natural History Topics.” The contents of these parts, and how to use them, are briefly described on my website www.normankowal.com. My goal has been to produce a field guide that people can take with them while traveling long distances on our Eastern interstates and use to alert themselves to the natural features that they can see along the way. Given the convenience of modern technology, the book will probably be best used on laptops, tablets, etc. — by the passengers, not the driver!

I have converted my original WordPerfect text into a PDF format, and made the current version available on the internet. Anyone can easily download it from my website www.normankowal.com. It’s free, safe and contains no commercials. What’s not to like?


— Norm Kowal
Black Mountain


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