This post is part of a series focusing on Bisbee, Arizona. The HOLLOW team traveled to Bisbee where we were able to see how an old copper-mining community has used art and history to revive the town and create a new economy. PHOTOS by ELAINE MCMILLION…
"These photographs focus on people not commonly shown in media depictions, as well as those working to contribute positively to the city, whether through community leadership, arts and culture, neighborhood development, or other such venues. Hopefully, these images leave the viewer with a sense of a Youngstown beyond the headlines of crime and economic collapse. For Youngstown is not yet a city abandoned; instead, it can be a place of both struggle and joy for those who still call it home.”
The photo above was taken in Coalwood, WV in December 2011. At one point in time, Coalwood was a booming coal mining town and home to many families and a thriving community. Coalwood reached its peak in the 1960s and finally shut down production on October 1, 1982…today it is left with the scars and skeletons of industry.
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A part of everyday life in McDowell County that unnerves many visitors is meeting a huge 18-wheeler coal truck in a curve on one of the narrow roads common to the area. In fact, it unnerves some of the natives as well. The truck you see in the first picture is on a main highway that passes through the middle of a cemetery. I was told that Ripley’s Believe It Or Not lists the cemetery as the only cemetery in America that has a major roadway that passes through it. The cemetery is located in the Venus section of Gary.
The truck in the second picture is passing by an abandoned apartment building in Hemphill near Welch. As you can see there is not a lot of passing room when you encounter one of these huge trucks.
I love seeing these trucks on the highway, because I know it means jobs for somebody somewhere.
Ever since Americans have had to define what “rural” means, they have done so simply by saying what it is not. In common usage, rural is any place not populous, not developed, not easily reached by an interstate. Our national authority on demographics, the U.S. Census Bureau, classifies it merely as a remainder: “‘Rural’ encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.” That’s it.
And yet, anyone who has ever left the highway in the Golden State knows that rural California is a place far too diverse to lump into the category “other.” From Modoc County to Raisin City, from the Carissa Plains to the Coachella Valley, the experience is in fact one of diversity and depth. The stories here are about rural California as a world unto itself—not a list of the things it is not, but an exploration of the things that it is.
Written by Lisa Hamilton
I find this project very interesting. It includes audio excerpts, maps, photography and short written materials to share the stories of rural California.
A few years ago, at a conference about the woes of rural America, one speaker really caught my attention with a very simple message. “Never say ‘rural brain drain,’” She told us. “Think about it.” She pointed out that to say “brain drain” in a rural community is basically telling everyone present — the people who stayed — that they’re dumb. You’re implying they somehow missed the boat and are demonstrating low IQ just by being rural.