THE QUEEN OF APPALACHIA (1901) – Written by Joe H. Borders. This novel features Paul Thornton, a merchant in Kentucky, and his Lost World adventures. While hiking in the wilderness Paul saves a beautiful woman from drowning. The woman is, coincidentally enough, utterly identical to Paul’s girlfriend May Arnold.
The rescued woman says she is Olivet, the Queen of a subterranean land called Appalachia. Several generations earlier, Kentucky pioneers were driven into hiding in a cave to escape hostile Native Americans. The cave was part of an entire network of subterranean tunnels which extend around the world.
A large mass of electricity provides light and heat and “revolves” in time to the Earth’s revolution to approximate day and night in the underground realm called Appalachia by the pioneers. Gold and diamonds are plentiful in Appalachia.
The people of Appalachia are ruled by an elected Queen who serves for life. Olivet won the most recent election but the jealous runner-up, Angelina, secretly knocked her into one of the underground rivers. The current carried her along to the surface world, where Paul saw her and rescued her.
Paul promises to help Olivet regain the throne and the two travel to Appalachia. This subterranean civilization is very advanced with railroads that sport three-wheeled cars, air-cars which can travel up to 300 miles per hour and rapidly moving sidewalks which carry pedestrians along to their destination.
While trying to drum up support to get the crown back for Olivet, Paul – a very religious man – practices faith-healing. (?) This gets him and Olivet in trouble and brought to the attention of Angelina, who is ruling with an iron fist.
Prior to Paul and Olivet getting nabbed, Angelina had already heard whispers that Olivet had survived and returned to Appalachia. When Paul publicly announces that Olivet is alive and shows her off to the people, Angelina is prepared.
The usurper produces May Arnold, who if you’ll recall is an exact double of Olivet. Angelina had her minions kidnap May and implies that Olivet is really just another double.
Angelina also tries to seduce Paul away from May but Paul’s religious haranguing of the evil Queen succeeds in converting her. She gives up the throne and has Olivet take her rightful place as the ruler of Appalachia.
Paul and May load up on gold and diamonds, then return to Kentucky to get married and live happily ever after.
The Queen of Appalachia is odd but likable in parts. It’s almost unreadable in places but its bizarre blend of science fiction tale and religious tract appealed to my oddball sense of humor.