Macon County, North Carolina: Looking At Appalachia

Screenshot 2014-03-28 12.56.26

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with the Appalachian native, photographer and curator Roger May when he handed over the reins of the official Instagram account for the crowd-sourced image archiveLooking at Appalachia.

The project overview is explained by May as:

In an attempt to explore the diversity of Appalachia and establish a visual counter point, this project will look at Appalachia fifty years after the declaration of the War on Poverty. Drawing from a diverse population of photographers within the region, this new crowdsourced image archive will serve as a reference that is defined by its people as opposed to political legislation.”

Last week I explored the landscapes of Appalachia where generations of my family roamed, stretching from industrial swaths of eastern Tennessee to the rugged hills of western North Carolina. These places, these memories are connected by time and space of childhood summers, holidays and visits well into my adult life. I traveled to help my mother clean out her childhood home, where my grandmother once lived. These photos are dedicated to my family before and after these moments and to my grandmother, Helen Wallace.

These places, these memories are connected by time and space of childhood summers, holidays and visits well into my adult life.”

CAPTION: My grandfather’s truck sits under I-40 where the highway crosses the Clinch River in Roane County, TN. The smokestacks of the Kingston Fossil Plant, managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in Kingston, TN, have dominated the small town’s skyline since the 1950s. The plant burns about 14,000 tons of coal a day.

CAPTION: Weeds, stray cats and shadows visit my grandparent’s barn more often than people. At one point four horses lived in these stalls and my pappaw named them Ted, Molly, Rex and Jim Bob. Molly was spotted. Ted was tan. Rex looked like Jim Bob, brown with a white stripe on his nose.

CAPTION: My brother turns papaw’s United States Navy dog tags toward the window light as he gets a better look March 18, 2014. Pappaw, William J. Wallace, was a gunner’s mate on a 16″ naval gun while serving on the USS Wisconsin during WWII.

CAPTION: My grandparent’s home in Franklin, NC is all quiet early Sunday morning.

CAPTION: Charlie Dowdle is a lifetime resident of Franklin, NC and served in the USN during Vietnam. Dowdle is working to preserve Macon Co., NC agricultural heritage by self-funding a museum in his family’s former farm supply store. The museum is yet to be named.

CAPTION: A thick fog envelops a forest service road near Wallace Gap in Nantahala National Forest Macon Co., NC. — “For a long time my chief interest was not in human neighbors, but in the mountains themselves—in that mysterious beckoning hinterland which rose right back of my chimney and spread upward, outward, almost to three cardinal points of the compass, mile after mile, hour after hour of lusty climbing—an Eden still unpeopled and unspoiled.” Our Southern Highlanders — Horace Kephart.

CAPTION: Dot Moore, 79, of Haywood Co., NC, is the only living sibling – one of seven – of my grandmother. Moore sits in my grandmother’s dinning room after dinner March 18, 2014.

CAPTION: Railroad crossing at Barber’s Orchard Haywood Co., NC.

CAPTION: My grandparent’s clock is up and running for the first time since MamMaw passed. Macon Co., NC.

Follow the project at the Looking At Appalachia Instagram and follow my personal Instagram account


Nathan W. Armes
Photographer + Videographer
Denver, Colorado



  1. Judy Green Paxton
    March 31, 2014

    hauntingly beautiful…

  2. Stephen Armes
    April 1, 2014

    WELL DONE! Proud of you.

  3. Carolyn Setser Waters McCall
    April 6, 2014


  4. Nathan W. Armes
    April 7, 2014

    Thank you!

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