Remnants of the Past

by | Dec 24, 2010 | Stories & Expeditions | 11 comments

You might say I received an early Christmas gift the other day.

A fellow from church drove me into the backwoods to a place that a photographer like myself considered to be, almost literally, a treasure cove. Obviously traveling off the highway, and then down a two-lane for awhile, and then on a typical, one-lane back road for a few miles, and then on foot where no vehicle had been for a long time, we finally arrived at our destination.

No, it wasn’t the perfect time of day, it wasn’t good lighting, and the melting, snow-covered surroundings weren’t that appealing, but the location and subjects were like very few left in America. I was told that a 90 year old man (still living today) said that his grandfather had built this farm. It is known that the place was deeded back in 1875. But when it was actually built, no one really knows. The best estimate we could come to was 1865.

This opportunity to photograph a piece of West Virginia heritage, accented with the stories and tales of bygone years by my tour guide, was a blissful experience that neither words nor pictures can accurately express.

An Uninhabited Farm

WV Heritage-9872

Woodchip Insulation

WV Heritage-9825

Wooden Latch on a Wooden Door Hung on Wooden Hinges

WV Heritage-9739

Deserted for Over 30 Years

Deserted for Over 30 Years

Scaling House

WV Heritage-9767

Remnants of the Past

WV Heritage-9824


  1. Robert

    James, I love the rustic West Virginia winter feel in these shots.

  2. Allen P.

    Wow, James, those pictures are so beautiful! I especially like the first one. The latch is neat, too. I personally think that the lighting and the melted snowy conditions were perfect for conveying the appropriate abandoned, yet timeless, feel.

  3. Denise

    I too admire the first picture. You’ve managed to capture the past literally frozen in time, but yet still aging…gracefully. The barreness and snow on the ground, the gentle sloping hill in the background lend a backdrop that speaks to better times and yet still exhibits a surreal beauty of some sort that I can’t quite find the words to describe. It’s as if this picture is an analogy of God’s love for man…well built, well worn, but still standing. God bless.

  4. Mrs. Gunn

    Well, “Wow” pretty much sums it up! What an amazing experience–I’m happy for you! I love your description: “treasure cove”–how apt. I would find it fascinating to not only photograph all of this, but to sit down with the 90-year-old man whose grandfather owned this property and to ask him questions about what he remembers of his grandfather, father–the history that goes with these photos. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Merry Christmas!
    Mrs. Gunn

  5. Denise

    I honestly don’t think that you realize what you’ve captured in your photos. Look at the photo “Deserted for Over 30 Years”. Dried up Queen Anne’s Lace in the foreground with an abandoned building in the background. Everyone I know realizes that when Queen Anne’s Lace blooms, the flowers signal the end of summer (in the north) and the coming of the winter. And all dried up, with snow and an old building in the background…what a perfect symbol of winter. In fact, that photo I would gladly purchase for my greeting cards. Well done:)

  6. Mrs. Ant.

    Very beautiful pictures.

  7. Denise

    “Cool” “neat” “beautiful”. How perfect to describe your photographs if we’re all living in a Jr. High School Christian kinda world. And we’re not.

    This is how I see it…all beauty has its orgin in God and is a reflection of God as such beauty draws some people to God.

    James 1:17 “every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above the Father of lights.” Every bit of nature’s beauty comes from God. And God reaches for people in different ways (Romans 14;14, Titus 1:15)

    God may use the beauty of the arts as a means to help those grasping for the truth of His love for them. How? Art is a noble gift given by God thru which man can reflect upon the image of his creator. Paul to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:17) “God hath given us all things richly to enjoy.” What is art?

    Art gives the viewer the ability to see, feel, and appreciate the world in which we live. As a Christian I can view art and ask, “What is being said about God? What is being said about man? What is being said about man’s problems? What affect will this piece have upon those who view it? Does this picture have a meaning? How does it transform me?”

    I was both affected and transformed by your photos as I saw in them an analogy and a simple beauty with a simple message. I could have written “neat”, “cool” or “beautiful”, but that would have been disingenuous to God and your talent.

  8. Donald

    1865, possibly . . . Wow. I agree that rustic, abandoned, and timeless are good adjectives to describe your subject and I would add that they are reminders!–remnants that remind us both of the hardiness and determination God gave our pioneering ancestors and of the gratefulness and contentment that can revitalize our ways today if we keep our priorities right.

  9. Denise

    I did!!!! Thank you!



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