Thursday, August 30, 2012

Campton, KY Living Color

When I drive to eastern Kentucky to work on a Teaching American History grant every few months, I drive through Wolfe County and the tiny town of Campton, Kentucky. Recently, I was surprised to find a number of photographs on the Library of Congress website that depicted a number of scenes in Campton in 1940. 

I suppose I was not so much surprised to find pictures from this area from 1940, but I was astounded to find a number of them in color. Seeing the past in color adds so much to my perception of what things were like in history. Too often, from looking at so many black-and-white photographs, I catch myself thinking in my mind's-eye that the world was black-and-white way back when. I'm glad that images such as these have survived to remind me that life was lived in color.

A street scene on court day. I love the Ale-81 sign in the center background. If you are from, or have lived in Kentucky, you probably are familiar with the soft drink.

Farmers trading horses and mules near the Wolfe County Courthouse.

These men remind me of my grandfather, especially the third man from the right. Grandpa wore overalls everywhere except to church.

Street scene in the center of town on court day.

This photograph is identified as being on "Jockey Street" near the Wolfe County courthouse. I assume that Jockey St. is a pun for the horse and mule trading that went on here rather than the actual name since it is in parentheses.

Images courtesy of Library of Congress


  1. Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing!

  2. My Grandfather is very likely in one of those photos. He was from there and was very active in horse and mule trading. I was born a few years after these photos were taken and although my family moved away when I was very young those scenes look very natural to me.

  3. I don't think the average person needs reminded that the world has never, neither literally nor figuratively, been black and white. Color photographs are nice but not essential to our understanding of history. We don't need to see that a suit was brown or the sky was blue to grasp the situation captured in a photograph. Or, maybe some people do. Who am I to judge.

  4. My mother was from there and I stayed there with grandparents and two of the youngest aunt's as a child for a short time. I never forgot it. They lived in a log cabin. We visited there many times and I also remember the family cemetery on a very steep hill. To this day, I love the mountains and admired the strength and endurance of my mother and the ancestors from the area. I also was sad to see the strip mining even as a child. I learned to appreciate the basics of living from our visits. They were very strong people. I am interested in the history and hope to share it with the young ones so it will not be forgotten. I am one of the last ones to have actually spent time there. Thanks for the photos. I am sure relatives are in them for there were many.

    1. My Great Grand and Great Great Graandparents were first folks there! Oliver, and Hardy