skip to Main Content
Tobacco Market

In the rugged Appalachian Mountains the mainstay regional crop is tobacco. It is grown on small parcels of land. The size you are “allotted” is determined by the US Government. The price per pound for the sale of tobacco is also controlled by government graders who move amongst the thousands of mounded pallets of crop brought to market after it has come into “case” usually in November in this region.

As I spent time in the vast tobacco market sheds housing the crop until the auctions took place each day in the season I found the social atmosphere very dynamic and rich. There was a sense of anticipation and anxiety in the air. How much would this years crop bring at market? Everyone paid attention to the tags the government graders would leave on each stack as they established a price per pound before moving on to the next pallet. The highest price would be earned by leaves that were in “case” – a ideal condition with just enough moisture, not dry and brittle, not damp and wet.

I found the body language of farmers, sounds of muffled voices, the cold damp air, earthy smell of ripe tobacco and the intermittent “song” of the auctioneer memorable, in fact, unforgettable. 1970

[ a selection of photographs from the complete portfolio ]

Note: a video journal of this subject is currently in development and will be posted here when complete.

click any image for a slideshow
back to “The Other Side of the Mountain”
Back To Top