On Thursday morning, I stood outside of the old Bloch Bothers Mail Pouch Tobacco factory in Wheeling, West Virginia waiting for the sun to rise. The Ohio River, silently snaked behind me while I snapped far too many photos of the ghost sign printing on the brick building.
A little to the left, a little to the right, maybe crouch down? Dammit, did I cut the corner off? The amount of jockeying around that I sometimes do is admittedly excessive. Especially for photos that by and large just live in the camera roll of my iPhone.
Sunrise in Wheeling is a full half hour later than where I live. It’s funny how something so seemingly inconsequential can throw you off. Standing out there in front of an idling semi truck in the dark it seemed like the sun was never going to come up. Was this how I would live the rest of my life – in the not quite dark, not quite bright predawn light? Irrational questions that made sense in the moment.
It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been to Wheeling proper and not just skirting by on the highway. In town there seemed to be considerable construction and deterioration since my last visit. The old suspension bridge was blocked off. There were many construction barrels around. Maybe things are on the way up and my next visit will be one marked by rejuvenation.
You never really know the true story of a place when you’re just passing through.
Visit the Old Mail Pouch Tobacco Factory
3900 Water St, Wheeling, WV 26003
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