“As you get older, remember to be yourself”
And it is from this saying that the Mountain Man, Yosef, got his name. And of course, Yosef is the mascot for Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Now, when you find the statue on campus, you might wonder: why does he look so angry and why does he seem to be charging off the base of the monument itself?
Well, the answer to those two questions in in the very essence of the Mountain Man himself. Appalachian State chose as their mascot the embodiment of the people that tamed the mountains, that picked the Southern Appalachians as their home, that decided this was the place to live and fought to keep it and make it home. The mountain men of the area faced a lot of adversity:
- The Terrain – One of the primary adversities that the mountain men faced was the terrain. While the Appalachians are not the tallest mountains in America they are a wooded wasteland of trees and mountains that can be inhospitable at best. A lot of the mountain men were descended from Scots-Irish stock and they felt they were back home when they reached the mountains in North Carolina. These hardy men tamed the wilderness, cut trails, made farmsteads and eventually led to other people coming to the area and towns being founded.
- The Native Americans – The Mountain Men were not the only people that decided to call this land home. They worked with and at times in opposition to the Native Americans that were already living here. They fought to take and then keep the land they were on and they lost many of their numbers during these conflicts.
- The US Government – The government of the United States tried to tame these mountain men as well. Against all odds, and against laws and regulations that the government tried to enforce, the mountain men triumphed and carved out the wilderness to make their homes.
- Other Mountain Men – Of course, the determination of the mountain was put to the test when they were put up against other mountain men. These mountain men challenged each other as much as they waged war against the elements and the indeginous people that were already living in the mountains.
It is for these reasons that Appalachian State University picked the Mountain Man to be their mascot. They wanted to show the determination that they had as a campus. Their determination to excel against all odds. They wanted to show that they had the skills and fortitude to succeed. You can see this in the face of the statue, in the way that with upraised fists, he refuses to go down, refuses to be put aside or ignored.
Make sure that you go by and meet Yosef the next time you are in Boone, NC. This tall, solid bronze statue is beautifully made and is a piece of art. Take the kids by to see the mountain man with the crazy eyes and fists raised to the air. Take a look at the people that helped settle the mountains and tame the wilderness.