It is a shame that Appalachian Ohioans cannot replicate some of the successes that West Virginians have had bringing federal money to help their struggling state. But the problem is that all of West Virginia lies in Appalachia, while only part of Ohio does. None of the power centers of Ohio, all urban or suburban, are in Appalachia; the region does not have the population to have political clout nor money to purchase politicians’ attention. With no real economy, plus underfunded and under-attended schools, the region cannot attract money from the state of Ohio, to say nothing of the federal government. The region is a fairly equal mix of “red” and “blue” counties, but neither party pays attention to them, Republicans because they care nothing for the poor and Democrats because they know and care little about the rural white poor.
[Remember that you can click on each image below to see a larger, better image. Also, the EXIF data for each image contains GPS coordinates that you can use to locate the exact place where the photograph was taken.]
On this February day, I had driven through southeastern Ohio’s old coal country almost alll the way down to the Ohio River; I would soon start meandering my way back north to home in Columbus.
Driving through the region, one comes across a lot of ruins of one sort or another and often there simply aren’t enough clues to understand what used to be there. Could this have been one of the many derelict miner’s houses that dot the region? There’s woods all around it, but enough semi-open space for there to have been a field or a pasture, so this may have simply been someone’s home that burned down. There is actually an old television aerial standing not too far away. But where did the remains go? There are only a few bits and pieces left.
Another woodsy shot. Southeast Ohio is beautiful, home to the Hocking Hills and the Wayne National Forest. Unfortunately, its beauty is one more of quiet grace than grandeur and most tourists who come are from Ohio, not from elsewhere, and not enough to allow a tourist economy to help lift the region up.
Many sections of eastern Ohio are strewn with boulders, some cracked from large rock formations, others perhaps deposited by retreating glaciers.
Unlike woods in the west, where I am from, here much of the woods are still populated, if sparsely. This photograph is actually an example; it was taken in a forested area near the Hocking River not far from Guysville along U.S. 50. But even in the woods you’ll have homesteads pop up here and there. This one was one of those homesteads with a lot of junked cars on the property. Pay close attention and you’ll notice a quite sizable tree has grown up right through one of the vehicles. Makes you wonder exactly how long it’s been there, doesn’t it?
I believe this building was abandoned, though other buildings on the property might not have been. But it was nice little building.
Here’s a shot of downtown Coolville, Ohio (population 496, salute!), almost on the Ohio River. I have to say that if you are going to be named Coolville, you have a certain standard you are going to have to live up to, and I am not sure Coolville actually fits the bill (it was actually named for the Cooley family and probably got shortened).
A tree’s shadowy tendrils stretch to grasp the unaware horses.
Here’s an Appalachian Ohio triptych: an old cabin, grazing cattle, and oil.
I prefer to leave out the oil and focus on the nostalgic and pastoral. Much more pleasant, don’t you think?
The setting sun, low on the horizon, shining through the woods of Athens County.
I am a sucker for roads that curve off to the side as the reach the horizon. What the heck is OVER there. I’d better go find out.
Every old barn, every abandoned cabin, they are all stories. I just wish we had the storytellers.
Here is a more prosperous seeming pastoral scene. For those of you familiar with photography, this is actually an HDR shot so that I could show the interior of the barn at the same time as the fields surrounding it. HDR photographs are photographs that are actually blended composites of multiple images (five, in this case) each at a different camera exposure, so that light subjects and dark subjects can both be photographed at the same time (unlike human eyes, cameras cannot “see” very light and very dark things at the same time, which is why shooting something dark against a bright background often ends up with the bright being too bright or the dark being too dark).
Another abandoned home, already starting to fall apart. What will this look like in 20 years, I wonder?
Once of the nice things about shooting in the late afternoon in winter is that the sun is very low on the horizon and you can get some really nice, super-long shadows.
I am quite fond of this shot, which reminds me of the artwork you might see in an old color Life magazine ad. I believe that vehicle is some sort of late 1940s Packard but cannot be 100% sure.
Not all old vehicles are so lovingly kept.
I like this rather sumptuous pastoral shot, with the horses and the barn on the horizon, sandwiched between a deep sky and a well-trodden pasture.
We will end this excursion with this old church and cemetery. I believe this was the Pleasant Hill Methodist Church in Morgan County, built in the late 1800s. It seems to be abandoned.