Downtown Parkersburg WesBanco hosting Elmer Napier display
PARKERSBURG — The rural West Virginia Americana Exhibit by Elmer Napier is on display through August at WesBanco Bank, 415 Market St. in downtown Parkersburg.
Viewing hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As a Wood County Schools educator, Napier had many interests, but the one that he found most rewarding and continues through retirement is photography.
“I have been interested in photography most of my adult life – as a hobby, not a profession,” said Napier.
His passion has been rural West Virginia Americana where he is an active documenter. He began by visiting and photographing the barns painted with the Mail Pouch Tobacco logo, then transitioned into photographing and documenting West Virginia railroad stations.
Napier’s travels took him over many scenic and historic country roads in West Virginia where he found more than 80 surviving rail depots. From the railroad stations, his documentary interests took him to photographing many scenic and historic country churches, farm houses and more barns.
Then came the interest in documenting West Virginia’s water powered mills. There were more than 40 water-powered mills remaining in West Virginia and Napier traveled over 12,000 miles of West Virginia roads to photo-document them. The state’s oldest gristmill is Shepherd’s Mill, located in Shepherdstown, and was built between 1734 and 1739. There are a few of the state’s gristmill’s that are still operational and some being restored.