FOUND! Kmart #9610 — Village Center Mall — Harlan, Kentucky

If you havent caught on yet I have a fascination with many things.  If Im “into something”  Im in it for the longhaul and almost obsess over it for long periods of time.  One of my obsessions is Kmart, another is my home town of Harlan, Kentucky.

I come from a generation of Harlanites (yes its a word) whose primary retail destination as a child was Kmart and the other stores located at the Village Center Mall.   Walmart didnt arrive in Harlan until 1991.  Until then Kmart and Magic Mart had the corner on the mass merchandiser market in town.

Sadly, the Kmart store in Harlan closed in the spring of 1995.  The memories of this store still stay with me today.  Naturally with the advent of the internet I have always thought that a photo would pop up of the actual store.  Those wishes had not came true until last weekend when I stumbled upon a website known  as Vintage Aerial.  I immediately searched for Harlan County and discovered that there were sets from the early to mid 1980s on dozens of sets of photos.  It took me the better part of an evening, but I finally found it.

Kmart in Harlan KY -- 1984

I can close my eyes and almost taste the superman ice cream from the deli. The future isnt bright for Kmart as a chain. As Ive stated in this blog before, if (when) they finally go, I am probably going to be very dramatic, over react and travel a ton documenting the stores before they are gone. Someone has to do all three of those things right?
Kmart in Harlan KY -- 1984

Diving Into The Archives

Recently, and by recently I mean within the past 72 hours, I have been exposed to a vast array of historic aerial photography archives from my home town that are readily (with a fee) available to the public from as far back as 1952. The first that I decided to purchase is this shot:
1952 Aerial View of Where I live. For comparison as to what you are looking at here is the same image marked with where my house is now. 1952
For even further reference for anyone familiar (IE family) Here is notations of what each building was that showed up on the land in 1952.
1952 None of these structures are still around today. Its really neat to see a visual representation, especially from the air to show what I have heard my grandmother and my parents and aunts and uncles talk about for years and years. For a representation of how things have changed in this little community I took a screen shot of the most recent google earth image (fall 2016) from the same exact location 2015 Aerial View of my Neighborhood
If you notice in the 1952 photos the road has clearly just been constructed as the banks where they blasted the mountain off hasnt grown back at all. You can also make out the old road if you look close enough. According to my dad the old road crossed the river right across from my house and went across and around the other side of the river. You can see that the culvert right by my house has clearly not even been installed yet. Its amazing to me that you can find things such as this on the internet. A lot has changed in 65 years. If you would like more information about these aerial photography archives visit the site by clicking HERE

Betty Howard Coal Miner’s Memorial Theater –Harlan County, Kentucky

The Betty Howard Coal Miner’s Memorial Theater is located in the town of Benham, Kentucky in northern Harlan County.  Benham is a former company town built by Wisconsin Steel subsidiary International Harvester in the 1910s and 1920s.
Betty Howard Theater -- Benham, Kentucky//
The theater was built by the coal company in 1921. Over the years as with many coal company towns, the theater and other buildings fell into disrepair. Benham, however is a great success story of preservation and rejuvenation. On July 21, 1983 the theater along with most of the other buildings surviving in Benham were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Betty Howard Theater -- Benham, Kentucky//
That includes the theater. The town sought for private funding to restore the theater. In December of 2006 the theater was re-dedicated.

Cranks Creek Lake — Harlan County, Kentucky

Drove around to the back side of the Cranks Creek Lake this evening and got a few really good shots of the lake and dam.

Cranks Creek Lake -- Harlan, Kentucky//
Cranks Creek Lake -- Harlan County, Kentucky//
Cranks Lake -- Harlan County, Kentucky//
Cranks Lake -- Harlan County, Kentucky//

Lomography Fisheye Photography

One of my new years goals for this year was to buy a pack of Impossible Project film for the old Polaroid 600 and use it.  That one goal has lead me on quite a few tangents already this year as I have discovered the joys of true film photography.

One of my ventures in film photography so far this year has been with the Lomography Fisheye Camera.
Lomography Fisheye 35mm Camera This camera is very small and almost looks like a toy. As you can see from the photos that follow, this is no toy and provides a crisp, clear photo that really impressed me. All of these photos were taken using the camera above and fresh 100 ISO Lomography brand film. The film was processed and prints produced by Willow Photo Lab in Willow Springs, Missouri. They did a fantastic job, were very well priced and completed the order with prompt service. I cant say enough good things about them! I highly recommend them. Lomography Fisheyeisheye”>Lomography Fisheye   Fisheye Lomo
Fisheye Lomo

Winter Storm Jonas

Snow isnt a rarity here in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. In fact there is a pretty good chance you will see some of the stuff from late October all the way to late April around here. It is however a rarity that we get big snows….This last storm, Jonas was the third in the past 11 months to dump more than a foot on the bluegrass state. Thats pretty astonishing, and pretty rad for snow lovers for sure. These are a few of the photos Ive taken around the house since the storm hit, seeing as how my cars are still stuck in the driveway and probably will be for a few more days….Im getting a touch of cabin fever. Enjoy.
Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Fuji Instax 210 V. Snowday

I have been out at the lake with my fuji instax wide film camera today and I am very excited to share the results.  If you are thinking of diving into the instant camera arena I cant suggest this camera enough.  You can find them fairly cheap now and the film isnt that bad either.  The results are fantastic.  Enjoy.

Martins Fork Lake -- Harlan, KY

Martins Fork Lake -- Harlan, Kentucky

Martins Fork Lake -- Harlan, KentuckyMartins Fork Lake -- Harlan, KY

Martins Fork Lake -- Harlan, KY

Impossible Project Polaroid 600 Experiment

I didn’t make New Years Resolutions this year, per say…..I did however make a list of 12 goals. One of those goals was to buy some project impossible film for one of my Polaroid 600 cameras and take pictures with it. This week I was able to mark that goal off my list. I love the feel, the excitement and the anticipation of having a camera that shoots out your end product before you are able to see it. I would love to take more of these photos, however at an average of 25 bucks for 8 exposures…..I have to say, I won’t be taking a whole lot of these pictures. I did however order a new package of film today…..this time Im going to try the full color film with the colored frames. That outta be fun!
Old Bridge -- Harlan County, Kentucky Dodge Challenger

Railroad Tracks in Harlan County, Kentucky Harlan, Kentucky

Martin's Fork Lake My Cat, Tom

Merry Christmas — Village Center Mall

Merry Christmas to all of my readers and followers.  Enjoy your day!

Merry Christmas From Village Center MallMerry Christmas From Village Center Mall

Cumberland Middle School — Harlan County, Kentucky


Cumberland Middle School or historically known as Cumberland School is located in the city of Cumberland, Kentucky in the northern part of Harlan County.

The school was funCumberlandElem8

The school was completed in 1936 and was funded by the Federal emergency Administration of Public Works.


The building is a very long shape that is kind of shaped like an elongated U, with the gymnasium shooting off at one end.  The building archetect was John T. Cillio and was built by Harlan Construction Company.


This structure served as a K-8 school for the city of Cumberland until the new Cumberland Elementary School which served students in grades K-4 from Cumberland, Benham and Totz Elementary Schools.


From 1993 until 2001 this building served as the newly formed Cumberland Middle School which served all students in the tri cities area in grades 5-8.


In 2001 faced with aging facilities and a budget problem, the Harlan County School Board voted to close Cumberland Middle School along with Verda Elementary and Loyal Elementary Schools.


At the end of the 2000-2001 school year approximately 280 students were sent to Cumberland Elementary and Cumberland High School from the closed Cumberland Middle School with 5th and 6th grades going to the elementary school and the high school absorbing the 7th and 8th grades.

The facility is now home to several community agencies and is utilized to a great degree.