Aesthetics Wiki

Appalachian Gothic is an aesthetic centering around the culture, landscape, and media of the American Appalachian mountains and the surrounding area from New York to Alabama. It has recently become popular on TikTok, but it has roots in the culture of the first non-native American settlers from as early as the 1700's.


Cultural History[]

From Native Americans to African Americans to European settlers, the Appalachians were and still are home to many different ethnic groups. The Europeans (mainly Scottish or Irish) first came in the 1700s and 1800s[1] and are responsible for the origin of the "hillbilly" stereotype of "wild, reclusive mountain men"[1].

German settlers, whose descendants are now called Pennsylvania Dutch, also came to Appalachia at this time, introducing apple butter, sauerkraut, and the chinked-corner cabins that are still popular today. Scandinavian immigrants also contributed to these log cabin houses[1].

With these settlers came the pioneer spirit[1] that is still prevalent in Appalachia today in the form of a sense of independence and adventure that is committed to searching out better things.

African Americans, initally brought to the region for slave labor, have also greatly contributed to the culture of the Appalachians. The banjo, essential to Appalachian folk music, was brought to the US by African slaves.[1]

Nowadays, Appalachia is a common tourist destination.

Economic History[]

A big part of the visual pieces of the Appalachian Gothic aesthetic have to do with the evidence left behind from the economic booms in Appalachia. The lumber and coal industries have left their mark in the form of now-abandoned mines, ongoing conservation efforts to restore the forests of Appalachia, and still-present pollution problems that stem from the Industrial Revolution[2]. Abandoned homesteads and run-down barns are common motifs in Appalachian Gothic because of the mysterious stories of the past economic booms and downturns that surround them.

The Great Depression hit the small isolated communities of Appalachia very hard. This led to large amounts of poverty, which is still very prevalent in the region[1], and is often shown by small, dilapidated houses scattered on mountaintops, only accessible by curving mountain roads. The "poor white trash" stereotype stems from these ideas of poverty[1].

This is where Appalachian Gothic and Southern Gothic share many characteristics. Both of these regional aesthetics center on the mostly fraught, often racist, somewhat poor, yet very prevalent culture of their respective regions. However, slavery was much more common in the south than in Appalachia. The physical landscape of the Appalachians also serves to differentiate it from its' southern counterpart.


  • Supernatural sightings, especially grotesque monsters and ghosts
  • Mountainous terrain, sometimes with mist or fog partially covering it
  • "Untouched" natural areas, such as thick forests
  • Log cabins
  • Split-rail fences
  • Small mountain towns
  • Small dilapidated houses, often with old, rusting cars parked nearby
  • Kudzu
  • Natural colors, such as greens and greys
  • Old-fashioned lanterns
  • Coal mines


  • Flannels
  • Denim and cotton fabrics
  • Boots, including work boots, and hiking boots from brands like Merrell or Keen
  • Jeans, especially distressed or ripped jeans
  • Workwear/utility clothing
  • Cargo pants
  • Wool socks
  • Long coats
  • Knitted sweaters
  • Overalls
  • Hard Hats
  • This is more Modern, Punk/Metal, and "Outsider" influenced than the other American regional styles of gothic


Books/Short Stories[]

  • "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving


  • Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love


  • Washington Irving


Appalachian folk music is comprised primarily of bluegrass, country, and American folk music[3]. The banjo is a key element of Appalachian music[3]. Fiddles and guitars are also popular instruments. Nowadays, some artists have begun to merge folk and blue grass with pop and rock.


  • Doc Watson
  • Bill Monroe