The Long Way Home


Mon Valley: Chapter One
December 8, 2013, 7:21 AM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , ,
Charleroi: A white house in blue.

Charleroi: A white house in blue.

The Monongahela Valley follows the Monongahela River from its origin in northern West Virginia, flowing north to Pittsburgh, where it joins the Ohio River. The “Mon Valley” today is the colloquialism for factory towns that run from the edge of the city, through Braddock, McKeesport, Clairton, Duquesne, and into Washington County. If you’re not from this area, these names may mean nothing to you, but like most factory towns, they were once places of booming industries, churning out steel or cutting glass for the rest of the country. McKeesport is the site of the first G.C. Murphy Co., and birthplace of one of my favorite photographers, Duane Michals. Charleroi had one of the first movie theaters in the world, and to my delight, now has a haunted antiques store (they are also home, I found out recently, to a World Kitchen plant that makes Pyrex). We went looking for lost treasures in old buildings that once housed families, businesses, secrets. Traveling along these river towns that flow one into the next, I found stories.

New Eagle: Found mirror.

New Eagle: Found mirror.

Charleroi: Santa break.

Charleroi: Santa break.

Monongahela: Secret passeway.

Monongahela: Secret passageway.

Charleroi: A shop on the main street.

Charleroi: A shop on the main street.

Charleroi: Nowhere house.

Charleroi: Nowhere house.

Charleroi: Blue door to an old bank.

Charleroi: Blue door to an old bank.

Charleroi: A steep hill.

Charleroi: A steep hill.

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16 Comments so far
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I swear to god that the ghost in the antique house tugged at my arm.

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Comment by Bill

Whatever, dude-you’re not even eastern european :).

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Comment by Lisa

These towns are fascinating and always make me more curious: what’s in that shop? what is behind that door and what is down the passageway? The bluish faded patina renders everything more mysterious. Great stuff and thanks for sharing.

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Comment by Michael Williamson

Thanks Michael – I’ve been off the blog for a bit because our computer died, but now we have a brand new one and I’ll be posting away again :). Happy holidays to you, and happy new year.

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Comment by Lisa

Same to you Lisa and many thanks for sharing your creative endeavours–its such a pleasure, M

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Comment by Michael Williamson

these are absolutely beautiful! you’re very talented.

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Comment by lovelyleooo

oh my gosh, thank you – that’s so sweet, you made my day!

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Comment by Lisa

I loved these. I visit my uncle in Grafton, WV and this just captures the feel of that area.

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Comment by thevintagetraveler

thanks, lizzie! i just looked up the town of grafton and was surprised to see that it’s the birthplace of mother’s day – it looks like a sweet little town.

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Comment by Lisa

The Santa photo is a sign of the economic times.

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Comment by Jeff

I’m glad I was brave enough to capture this surreal moment.

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Comment by Lisa

Your images capture the Mon Valley area perfectly. I can feel myself being transported back to my youth. Everything always had a grey and brown hue. Even in the summertime. But maybe that was just the 80s in general.

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Comment by motherblue212

I thought about you as we drove along this route – it’s haunting and beautiful, and I know exactly what you mean about the “colors” of our childhoods. It’s partly why I feel so attached to instant film, I think.

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Comment by Lisa

…i love your journeys so much, Lisa!! Thank you… (…smiling at you…) – and Duane Michals is one of my favorites too!!

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Comment by karijeppesen

thanks, kari! i feel lucky that mr. michals is from so close to home here (i’m also happy that you follow my little journeys here too ;)).

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Comment by Lisa

…my pleasure, Lisa!!

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Comment by karijeppesen




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