If this post doesn’t make you cry I’m not doing my job
Yellow Dog Village is an odd name for a town, but it is sort of an odd town. In the early 20th century when miners and mine owners battled each other over wages and working conditions, this town was a place of harmony between workers and management.
Yellow Dog Village came into being because of an agreement between the owners of a limestone mine in western Pennsylvania and its employees. The company agreed to build a town for its workers if the workers agreed not to unionize. This is known as a “Yellow Dog” contract, hence the name of the town. In addition to just building the town, the company went farther by increasing salaries and providing living standards that allowed their workers to live a pretty good life by mining standards.
This relationship worked well until the mine ran out of limestone and closed. The town remained and while some families stayed, the population of Yellow Dog Village dwindled until the final blow happened. Plumbing and sewage problems along with the housing market collapse in 2008 forced the remaining residents to abandon these now worthless homes and leave behind many of their possessions.
These possessions remain in many of the homes telling a sad tale of economically dispossessed families. Although there are worse situations in the world, the abandoned houses of Yellow Dog Village and their contents tell a story of modern day economic refugees.
What attracted my attentions immediately was the remnants of the children. Scattered toys, children’s clothes and their personalized bedrooms are the saddest remains of the families who made a life here.
The simple early 20th century architecture of Yellow Dog Village is common all over this part of Pennsylvania. Driving through small towns in the area, I saw the identical houses, except that these homes are abandoned, neglected and vandalized.
The individually decorated houses are now deteriorating as moisture and weather cause uniquely painted and wall papered rooms to peel and crumble
Children are the saddest victims of any disaster, natural, man-made or economic. The remains of Yellow Dog Village tell the story of the kids whoses families called this place home. The scattered toys, and personalized rooms were tough to look at as I was framing these photographs. Note: This is the crying part.
A New Life for Yellow Dog Village?
Several years ago, a retired history teacher was enchanted by this town and decided to buy it. He has a vision for Yellow Dog Village to be reborn as Limestone Village and populated by artisans who will restore these homes to live in and teach their craft during weekend and week- long programs. It’s a lofty goal, but the beginnings of this vision is starting to take shape. I hope to return to Yellow Dog Village some day soon to find a different place.
Great tour…I’m always amazed by what is left behind at these sites.
Thanks, Robert. When I was here I was thinking of your work at the Winship mansion. The sad thing about the abandonment of Yellow Dog Village was not driven by living beyond one’s means, but by an economic collapse.
Wow. Really interesting story and images. Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this village, you must have been your glory. Fabulous shots.
Thanks Buck. It actually took a while to get going but once I figured out the how I wanted to tell the story of this place, it all just sort of happened.
Very eerie! An interesting story no doubt and even though i did feel bad for the kids, what made me tear up is the vision of the retired teacher! Shows that there are still people out there who care! I really wish he’ll live to see his vision come true! 🙂
Thanks Alex. Nice to hear from you! I agree with you about the vision of this man. He has a lot of work a head of him, but it would be a beautiful thing if it comes to fruition.
A very interesting and well-told story Rich! I wonder how you found out about this abandoned town. The homes do not look beyond repair and the retired teacher’s vision of this place sounds like what is now working at Peter’s Valley School of Craft in Layton, NJ. ‘The Purple Room’ caught a bit more of my attention as I scrolled … the centered couch seems inviting and I can imagine a family sitting there. ‘The Stuff They Leave Behind’ also spoke to me. Great work!
Thanks Denise, I was thinking about Peter’s Valley when I was listening to the vision of this place. It will be similar but a bit more rustic. The idea is to live like it is 1910 and learn the crafts from that period. This was a workshop which is how I found out about it, although a friends son lives in Pittsburgh and had mentioned this place to me once a while ago. I liked the photograph you mentioned too because it shows that people didn’t leave here at one single time. Obviously the record player and the Zenith television box date back a bit.
What a fascinating place, and your back story serves as perfect intro to my next shoot. Oops and big LOL… you and I are like circling sharks that are definitely destined to bump into one another. I so wanted to go on this Leap of Faith shoot but wound up in France. Luckily he was able to schedule another, which I signed up for, but have to see how my first surgery goes this week. Your view from the porch is rattling around in my head as I keep coming back to it.
I know of no other club that has the depth and creativity that this one does… thanks for always inspiring me and most of all, your willingness to share!!!!!
Thanks Mike. It is a fascinating place and I’m glad you are planning on going there. good luck with your surgery and let me know how it works out my friend. I’m also happy to get together with you to provide some more info if you have the time. Thanks also for for letting me know your favorite. I’m having a hard time picking my favorites on this one. They all sort of mean something a little different. It’s a place with a big story, which you will find when you make it out there.
Wow, the image with the suitcases is stunningly heartbreaking. Looking forward to updates on this project!
Thanks for your comment Teresa. I think heartbreaking is the perfect word to describe that photograph. As I lhere more about what is going on in Yellow Dog Village I will definitely pass it along.
Great story Rich!
Thanks, I appreciate the comment and glad you enjoyed the story.