A view of the main street in Pocahontas, VA. 6 September 2009
The story of Pocahontas, VA is told by these building remnants on the nearly deserted main street. Ornate storefronts shield your view from the ruins behind them and tell a story of a glorious past long gone. At the far end of the street is the remains of the general store, of which only the face of the building remains. The roof and remaining three outside walls fell to the elements.
There is no gas station in Pocahontas. No pharmacy. No doctor's office. No grocery store. No restaurants. No schools. The population stands at under 400, with only 2% African-American. There are more people dead in the main and black cemeteries (yes, there are two separate cemeteries, though the black cemetery no longer takes new burials) than are alive in the town. This once thriving coal town is slowly dying out.
Riding through PA
( +6 )
T and R were horsing around at his house on 7 September when they posed for this photo. T calls him her brother by another mother. They were inseparable when he would come to Pocahontas to spend summers with his grandmother, and even after two decades of not seeing one another, they are great buddies.
R and his wife are wonderful people. I've grown to love 'em, too.
Residents of Pocahontas, VA watch as the Ku Klux Klan marches through the town. You can faintly see the hooded Klan members in the center of the upper half of the photo. This is an undated photo of a photo on display at the Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine.
When T was a teen, she once rode her bike through the mountains around Pocahontas on what she thought would be a relaxing trip. She stumbled upon a clearing full of hooded KKK members who had just lynched a man, his body still hanging on the tree. The fact that she is alive to tell the tale tells you just how fast she pedaled to get out of there.
T just turned 40. I am a mere six months older than her. While I was in East Orange, NJ worrying about what boys liked my sister better than me, T was in Pocahontas, VA worrying about staying alive while going to school with the children of the murderers who call themselves "The Klan".
A page from the Pocahontas Colliery Unclaimed Wages Ledger (February 23, 1947 to June 12, 1955). Of the coal miners who are listed under 31 October 1951, only one never collected their wages. Some people collected their wages as much as a year later. Taken at the Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine, Pocahontas, Virginia. 11 September 2009.
T and her pal, R, are puzzling over his truck, to see if they can fix what ails it. They've known each other since they were kids, but they hadn't seen one another in 23 years. Meeting him and his wife--she and I have the same first name!--was one of the highlights of this trip.
( Bonus shot... )
Just outside of Princeton, WV
7 September 2009
Though there isn't anything here for me (few jobs, nothing high-tech, and just as little in the way of cultural pursuits), the land itself is gorgeous. I could not live here, but I could vacation here when I need to get away from the big city. I'm just sorry it's been too cloudy/rainy/foggy to see and enjoy the night sky. I don't see many stars in New York City, and I'd hoped to admire them while I am here.
( Bonus shot... )
After bunking it at T's mom's house Saturday night, we got ourselves a hotel room for the rest of our stay. Our room is clean, spacious, and comfortable. In addition to free wireless internet access in the room and free continental breakfast every morning, the hotel has a heated, indoor pool. I see a trip to Target/Walmart/Kmart to get swimwear in our immediate future!