The Hollow County

The documentary I chose was Hollow, a documentary that avidly depicted to the rise and subsequent fall of McDowell County in West Virginia. The piece illustrates how McDowell County is a dying county with more people deciding to leave the county every year. It’s a heartbreaking story of a location and its people who have poured their soul into it but can’t seem to turn things around.

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The county rose to prominence, sporting a population of around 100,000 people during the mid-1950’s, due to an influx of business and residence from a large coal mining operation that created tons of jobs after WWII.

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Unfortunately, this growth, like the coal mining, was unsustainable. Eventually the coal mine shut down, hundreds were faced with unemployment and county began to shrink.

hollow collage

This shrinkage has continued into the modern day due to issues such as floods in the early 2000s, an increase in poverty rate up to 37.7%, and a 200% increase in drug use.

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McDowell county now sits at approximately 20,000 people; a fifth of what its population was just 60 years ago.

All images taken were screenshots taken by the author, Haiden Weaver, from the original work “Hollow” (

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