Thinking of visiting Monterey, TN? While here, you’ll want to stop by the
Depot Museum and visit Dale Welch. Read on to find out why!
The son and grandson of miners, Dale Welch saw the toll the pursuit of coal could take and chose a different story.
This passion for narrative began early as he listened to his grandmother Ida Clark spin tales of family history and folklore. Dale was so inspired by her words that he spent hours capturing each recounting on tape – to the point of actually wearing the recorder out.
What he didn’t know then was this obsession with narrative would shape the entire course of his life, altering the path of his community along the way.
Using visual art like photography and his knack for journalism, Dale began expressing himself through story and hasn’t stopped for the last 50 years.
If you were to ask anyone in Monterey over the age of 30 what Dale means to the people in the area, you’re likely to hear a repeated phrase, “the Hilltop Express.”
The “Hilltop” as locals call it, was the weekly paper Dale ran by himself for more than a decade.
He penned the articles.
He took the photographs.
He created the layout.
He did all the editing.
Dale dedicated his life to weddings, concerts, and nights under stadium lights with little rest or time for himself so that we could have a stronger community.
Monterey grew closer through the Hilltop Express. We learned more about each other. We celebrated victories, mourned losses. We learned to love our town through the hard work of one incredible man.
If you see Dale today, you will notice he struggles with vision.
Beginning in 2012, he suffered a series of strokes that at one point nearly robbed him of the entirety of his sight.
Despite these challenges, he didn’t stop collecting, sharing, and preserving stories. Instead, he shifted his focus (and occupation) to a new home, the Monterey Depot Museum.
Here, he regales visitors from near and far with the tales of his childhood, his parent’s childhood, and their parent’s childhood. He is an encyclopedia of area history. He is a treasure to his community and beyond.
So, if you find yourself in Monterey, TN, don’t miss the opportunity to meet a living story named Dale Welch.