I grew up in what could be called the California Appalachians. My town’s population was around a thousand, with a median household income of $37,000. The local public school consisted of a series of air-conditioned, double-wide trailers that served as classrooms for combined grades (first and second in one, third and fourth in another, and so on). The only permanent building was the administrative office.
The town had multiple saloons and churches, and a movie theater that doubled as the performance space for Christmas plays. There was one doctor, with an office and an x-ray machine. Main Street was two blocks long, with false fronts on every building, a train platform with one Amtrak departure per day, a community pool, and an active Lions Club that put on parades.
What had once been the main industries, mining and lumbering, had dissipated by the time my family arrived, and most of the populace seemed to be employed in some type of government or service sector job, owned a small business, or lived a subsistence life off of arts and crafts sold to holiday seekers heading further up the mountain to ski. A few gold prospectors still worked the river, but they didn’t appear to have much luck.