Plume, 2009-2010 by Daniel Shea

Issue 17

Plume is a photographic exploration of Southeast Ohio and its unusually dense concentration of coal-fired power plants. The pictures presented in Fraction Magazine are new images, made last month while finishing the project.

Geographically rooted in two towns along The Ohio River, Plume focuses on Racine and Cheshire who sit in close proximity to 4 power plant stations, all within a 15-mile radius. The landscape of these towns presents itself in distinct layers. The subdued palette of the river, with its plodding pace, carries coal and a unique regional sentimentality. Off the banks of the river exist people and sparse economic growth, and above them sprawl small mountains and Appalachian biodiversity. The trees, reaching for the sky, are outpaced by their synthetic allies in upward ambition. These smoke stacks are as ubiquitous landscape accompaniment in contemporary life as any, and in this series they are presented in their social environment, separated from their industrial foundation.

Southeast Ohio resonates a hidden fragility, not just in the industry’s inevitable demise, but in the dejection of its citizens. Like many mono-industrial cultures the resources are being exhausted. Coal exists beyond industrial and historical development as a larger abstract presence that is woven into the cultural fiber of Ohio. Here, the air of restlessness predicts an overwhelming ambivalence towards the coal industry. The citizens and land of Ohio and West Virginia are the source point in a vast grid of energy distribution. This burden of heavy resource usage is a type of political and industrial play, mirrored in other industry-specific rural economies, and constitutes an act of complex resource siphoning. In other words, non-Appalachian citizens are benefactors of not only inexpensive energy access, but of distance from the destructive industry that makes this access possible. This sociopolitical paradigm, as old as industry itself, calls into question our confounding relationship to power.

Daniel Shea is a Chicago, IL based photographer and teacher.
To view more of Daniel's work, please visit his website.

  Big Muskie Dragline 

Big Muskie Dragline 

  Racine’s Daily Walkers 

Racine’s Daily Walkers 

  Old Coal Supports 

Old Coal Supports 

  Carbon Underground Storage Wellhead 

Carbon Underground Storage Wellhead 

  Gavin, Named After Gavin Power Plant 

Gavin, Named After Gavin Power Plant 

  American Electric Power-Sponsored Rest Stop 

American Electric Power-Sponsored Rest Stop 

  Foreclosed Trailer, Ohio McArthur, Ohio 

Foreclosed Trailer, Ohio McArthur, Ohio 

  McArthur, Ohio 

McArthur, Ohio 

  Morgan County, Ohio 

Morgan County, Ohio 

  Paul Cardone’s Model Railroad Town 

Paul Cardone’s Model Railroad Town 

  Parks and Recreation, West Virginia 

Parks and Recreation, West Virginia 

  Larry Edwin Bowman 

Larry Edwin Bowman 

  Richard H. Gorsuch Generating Station, Closing 2012 

Richard H. Gorsuch Generating Station, Closing 2012 

  Raymond City, West Virginia 

Raymond City, West Virginia 

  Dennis Riffle 

Dennis Riffle 

  Hal Kneen, Meigs County Extension Agent 

Hal Kneen, Meigs County Extension Agent 

  Rosemary Eskew, Pomeroy Flower Shop Owner 

Rosemary Eskew, Pomeroy Flower Shop Owner 

  Gavin Power Plant Ash Pond, Top EPA Regulation Violator 

Gavin Power Plant Ash Pond, Top EPA Regulation Violator 

  John E. Amos Power Plant 

John E. Amos Power Plant 

  Coal Transportation Railroad and Beltway 

Coal Transportation Railroad and Beltway