“Though I was technically born in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, my hometown is Connellsville, one of many sleepy hamlets nestled in the Laurel Ridge spur of the Appalachian Mountains. I took this photo of the town’s recently updated Water Street train station from the overlook in front of my property on N. Arch Street, and the lush blues and grays, the fog and the Romantic dreariness of the town’s industrial-era brick structures and prefab Sears & Roebuck houses, as well as the train station itself, have long made this one of my favorite images. Connellsville, after all, is best known for two things: first, since the early 1800s, when it broke with the county seat in Uniontown and instigated the Pittsburgh-Connellsville Rail Corporation, the town has served as the site of the first major train depot west of the Alleghenies on one of two eastern lines that eventually feed into the Transcontinental Railroad; and, second, Connellsville is more known for its famous sons and daughters who have left, such as Las Vegas founder, senator and railroad magnate William Clark, than for those who have stayed. As a poet and non-fiction writer, my views on place are complicated by having lived many places since high school, but though I rarely write about my hometown as a setting, I hope my work is never devoid of the northern Appalachian drawl and hard-bitten attitude of the descendants of coal miners and coke cookers I grew up around.” – Phill Provance
Header image: map of Northeast Houston in 1922, courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.