Growing Up Lost in Appalachia – by Ian C. Bates

Appalachian Teenagers

J.R. Harrison, 19, looks down the sights of a rifle while Michael “Roady” Melnek, 15, steps back against the wall lined with heavy metal band t-shirts in Cameron Blosser’s room in New Straitsville, Ohio.

Ohio University sophomore Ian C. Bates photographed the day-to-day struggles and happenings in the lives of Appalachian teenagers.

Historically, the Southeast Ohio region of Appalachia was once known for it’s immense amount of extractive industries. When corporations stripped the area of it’s luscious deposits of coal, salt, clay and timber deposits, they left, leaving the baby boomer generation embedded with a culture developed by poverty and unchanged for decades to come. Their children, now 20-somethings and teenagers, are struggling to find their own paths out of poverty, which often lead to crime and drug abuse.

See more photos on Ian’s website.

Appalachian Teenagers

J.R. jumps off a homemade ramp in front of Cameron’s house while Cameron and Michael watch. A few jumps later J.R. split the bike frame in half on landing and knocked himself out.

Appalachian Teenagers

Pat pees between a trailer and van outside of the Blosser’s home in New Straitsville, Ohio.

Appalachian Teenagers

Brandon takes a hit from a weed pipe behind the library while Michael keeps watch for sheriff cars in New Straitsville, Ohio.

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