West Virginia railroad culture: photos by Kevin Scanlon


My uncle Kevin Scanlon has snapping photos of Appalachian life for as long as I could form sentences -- actually, no, longer. When I was young, his photos taught me to appreciate the modest, mostly overlooked beauty surrounding the old railroads that snake through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and neighboring states. His photographs document what is now a dying culture.

His first-ever solo exhibit opens tomorrow in Grafton, West Virginia. It's probably safe to guess that most of the people who read this blog post aren't in easy driving distance of Grafton, West Virginia, but you can see some of the images online, and buy prints if you're so inclined. If you do go to the opening on Saturday, please give him a hug for me.

Shown above: Morning Coal Train, Coopers, WV, 2005. Here's another one of my favorites from his railroad series. (high five, uncle Kev!)

Previously on BB: Kevin Scanlon's heavy industry photography

Update: Here's a snip from an interview with Kevin:

West Virginia reveals itself much like a book, one page at a time. The mountainous terrain and twisting valleys force you in close. Every page of the state has an interesting story to tell and another surprising view. The railroad is the thread that ties it all together. There are two themes that define my approach to photography: context and light. I am drawn to industrial subjects because of their influence on the culture of an area. Railroads are iconic in West Virginia. They were the key in developing the state, they were one of the defining factors when the state's borders were laid out and they literally carry the state away every day, one carload at a time. This series of photographs attempts to depict the railroad as an element of the landscape.
(thanks Aunt Dory!)