Found this old Plymouth Valiant parked in a field along a country road in Calhoun County, West Virginia.
Someone obviously cared enough to cover it up with a tarp, those UV rays are hell on the paint job. And nothing braces a car up on blocks better than trees, an ingenious solution indeed. Montani Semper Liberi!
I made this image of frost-covered hay bales on a recent cold Sunday morning in Calhoun County, West Virginia.
As is often the case when driving around taking photos, I stopped in the middle of the road and stuck my camera out the window to grab this one. Luckily, though, when you’re driving in Calhoun County, West Virginia, you can actually get away with stopping in the middle of the road to take photos. I don’t think I passed two cars in two hours on the back country roads I was travelling on. God I love this state!
The tiny rural community of Uler in Roane County, West Virginia, once boasted a post office. It is hard to imagine the need for postal service when you visit the area today, as there is clearly nowhere near enough local population to support it.
But, years ago, when transportation was difficult and the population was more isolated and self-reliant, there were post offices all over the place. Pretty much every little named farming community in West Virginia had its very own post office, including Uler.
Most of the old abandoned post offices have either been torn down or remodeled into oblivion, but the building at Uler still stands. Its history is given away by remnants of the U.S. Mail postal label still stuck to the inside of a window. You won’t find any stamps here though, as the building is now functioning as a hay barn.
I’m not sure how common swinging bridges are elsewhere in the U.S., but I remember seeing quite a few of them as a kid growing up in West Virginia. Over time, however, their use seems to have dwindled, and nowadays you’re about as likely to run across a sasquatch.
Swinging bridges were so much fun to cross. The “deck” seemed to always be made of semi-rotten planks, with about half of those missing. And as you walked across you’d experience a vertigo-inducing rocking, swaying, sagging motion that seemed destined to sink the whole contraption into the watery depths. With each safe passage you’d swear a miracle had occurred, but looking back now I realize that I miss them.
The swinging bridge in the image below spans the Greenbrier River a couple miles downstream from Durbin, West Virginia. I wanted to relive some childhood memories and make a crossing, but unfortunately the bridge was private and posted aggressively as such.
Family cemetery along Lower Timberridge Road in Pendleton County, West Virginia.
The setting for this lovingly maintained old cemetery was just magnificent. Those who feel connected to the land that they live and work on surely must gain a certain peace of mind in knowing that their final resting place won’t take them away from home.
Three Windows. Coco, West Virginia.
The windows of this forsaken home were covered with a heavy gauge woven wire. I wondered if the wire was an effort to protect the precious window glass from local rock throwing urchins or as a security measure against potential intruders. In either case, it’s not something commonly found in West Virginia.
This home, like so many others that have been abandoned, was full of crumbling furniture and miscellaneous day-to-day life items.
Abandoned farmhouse along Rte. 92 near Minnehaha Springs in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
This home has all the appearances of being very nice in its day, with fancy bannisters and a porch off the second floor. I’m sure that those who lived there would have never been able to imagine its current function as a hay barn.
Abandoned farmhouse along WV Rte. 92 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
The eerily open and intact front door almost seemed like an invitation to enter, but a glance inside dispelled any such notion.
Air. Ice. ATM. Phone. All the conveniences you could ever ask for, situated conveniently side-by-side at the business that’s all about convenience- the convenience store. This image was made while stopped at a conveniently located Go Mart near Charleston, West Virginia.
… and get a haircut.
Roadside scene along US 250 in Barbour County, West Virginia.
Judging from the fact that I haven’t seen Grapette Soda in a few decades I think it’s safe to say that this truck has been parked for a while.
Late evening sun lights treetops on a hillside near Orlando in Braxton County, West Virginia.
Mail Pouch barns are a well-known, albeit somewhat rare, sight along the rural roads of West Virginia. This painted wall, however, is located along the side of a large brick building in the heart of downtown Grafton, WV.
This image was made along Glady Creek in Valley Falls State Park, Marion County, West Virginia.
Glady Creek is a scenic little stream that was apparently receiving significant discharge from a small lake situated a mile or so upstream, turning what I expected to be a drought-stricken trickle into a springlike torrent. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Waterfall located along Glady Creek, just outside the boundary of Valley Falls State Park in Marion County, West Virginia.
Being relatively unfamiliar with Valley Falls State Park, I had no idea what sort of scenery might be found in its nether corners away from the well-known namesake falls along the Tygart River. One neat way I’ve found to discover hidden gems and unique sites wherever you may be is via geocaching. In this case I browsed my GPS to find nearby caches, and immediately became intrigued by one called “Glady Creek Waterfall Cache”. It was about a 0.9 mile hike from my parking spot, so off I went.
As it turns out this waterfall was well worth the hike. I spent an hour or so photographing and enjoying the general area. And, oh yeah, I found a geocache to boot! And I would never in a million years have known of this place’s existence if it weren’t for the fact that someone placed a geocache there.
So all you photographers out there might want to consider geocaching as a spin-off hobby. What better way to find scenic locations than to let the local people show them to you?
I love photographing trees but find them to be a difficult subject. Having separation between the trees and the background seems to simplify things a bit though, and in combination with nice lighting can make for an attractive image.
The image that follows was made at Valley Falls State Park in Marion County, West Virginia, on a recent cold autumn morning. Although similar in nature to my previous post, it has a bit of a different feel with the sky omitted and the smaller field of view (80mm vs. 28mm).
Early morning at Valley Falls State Park in Marion County, West Virginia. The namesake waterfall is just visible in the background, but this image was all about the light and the trees.
Although Valley Falls is not one of the more well known state parks within West Virginia I can’t help but be impressed with the quality and variety of scenery to be found there. I recommend it highly for anyone in the area considering a visit.
On a recent visit to the Smoke Hole along the South Branch of the Potomac River in Pendleton County, West Virginia, I happened upon Shreve’s Store. I was tired and thirsty at the time, so I pulled in hoping to score some refreshments. The “Live Bait” sign in the window gave me hope that this remote country store was open for business, but alas everything was closed down for renovation.
So, of course, I did what any photographer worth his salt would do. I made an image! So here it is, in all its glory, Shreve’s Store. May the Great Nightcrawler In the Sky bless them with brisk business when they re-open.
I love to shoot churches, and on a recent early morning in Pendleton County, West Virginia, I happened upon an attractive Methodist church situated in a picturesque spot near Germany Valley. Although I did makes some images of the pretty-as-a-picture scene before me, after a time I found that I was most interested in the front door itself of the church. Bright red with underlying grayish blue paint showing through in spots, hung with a colorful wreath. For some reason that detail jumped out at me, and I was more pleased with the resulting photograph than any of the scenic images I made of the church and its surroundings.
For me this is a natural way to work through a scene. Start with the big “obvious” compositions, trying to fit everything into the frame that’s there before me, and then sorting my way through the details that provide spice to the recipe. I find that it is often the spices, the smaller elements of the scene, that speak most clearly and best communicate the vibe of being there.
It is normal, and for that matter expected, that when you visit a remote location in the state of West Virginia for the purpose of photography that you will be rewarded with solitude. This is especially true if you make your arrival before daybreak.
So, on a recent trip to the Bear Rocks area of Dolly Sods to shoot the sunrise and autumn color, I was shocked and amazed to find the parking lot absolutely crammed with vehicles upon my arrival. There were people scurrying with their tripods out to various promising viewpoints, pointing their DSLR’s toward the glow of the pending sunrise. A photography group was stationed at one prominent vantage spot, and in every direction I looked I could see small groups of 2 or 3 people huddled against the ever present wind awaiting the lightshow.
Being one who considers solitude and reflection to be essential elements to any success I manage to achieve with my own photography, I elected to tool around at my truck and have some breakfast rather than joust for tripod position with other photographers. After a short time the sunrise dissipated, and the other folks made their way back to their vehicles and sped away toward their next appointment with Mother Nature.
But the light was still soft and inviting, so I walked out to the same vantage point that had been occupied mere moments previously and made a few images of my own. The image attached to this post was the best of the lot.
I’ve always felt that West Virginia is the nation’s best kept secret, but on this day I had to admit that my little illusion of the state being a private playground known to only a lucky few was forever shattered. So, if you ever make your way to the beautiful Bear Rocks at Dolly Sods for sunrise, here’s hoping that you find some empty tripod holes to shoot from.
Pocahontas County, West Virginia, is one of the most sparsely populated counties east of the Mississippi River. It is a land of rugged moutains and peaceful farms, the kind of place where you may easily have to drive an hour or more along winding country roads to get to the nearest grocery store or gas station, the kind of place where a cell phone signal is pretty much hopeless and where Walmart and Starbucks are but a dream.
It is not the kind of place where one would expect to find a movie theater of any sort, and I’d wager a guess that none exist there today. But sometime in the past Pocahontas County did indeed sport at least one drive-in movie theater. It’s remnants still stand alongside US 250 in the tiny town of Bartow, a monument to Pocahontas County’s last picture show.
Hay bales arranged in neat, orderly rows along Rte. 92 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
A veritable armada of signs directing traffic as you exit from Go Mart along I-79 in Elkview, West Virginia. At least they are all in agreement.
I have driven past this building in Elkview, West Virginia, countless times and have always thought it was a defunct bar. The faded out figures and text painted onto the cinderblock wall tend to catch my eye as I pass by, so the other day I stopped to make an image.
Upon studying the resulting photograph, I realized that there is additional text on the wall that has been painted over. Cranking up the contrast in Photoshop to a ridiculous level brought out the hidden message, and it turns out Diana Lynn’s is a defunct photography studio instead of a bar. This also serves to explain the rather dressed-up looking figures on the wall, which didn’t really fit into what I know of rural West Virginia bars.