Life in these mountains has never been easy. But during the Great Depression, things got even tougher as the nation lived through its worst economic crisis ever. Here are photos that show what life was like in Charleston during that period.

1. This photo from September 1938 shows Union Carbide in the background.

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2. This family was living on a houseboat. The husband was working for the WPA (the Works Progress Administration).

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3. Many folks were forced to live in shacks like this one.

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4. This older man was sick but still the foreman at his mine.

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5. This is the other side of his house.

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6. This baby’s mother had TB while the father worked for the WPA.

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7. This is the baby with the mother.

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8. This outhouse from the African American section of Charleston was the only privy 60 people.

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9. The area was known as “Paradise Alley.”

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10. This was a common street scene in the poorer neighborhoods.

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11. Still some were able to get work at places like the Union Carbide plant in South Charleston.

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12. You had to make your own fun.

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13. This is how you washed clothes… there were no washing machines for most here.

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14. Does anybody know where this photo along Charleston’s city limits was taken?

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15. Kids in their bedroom.

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16. Playing checkers with bottle caps along highway between Charleston and Gauley Bridge.

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17. Old boxcars like these along the same road were often converted in living quarters.

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18. Though many simply lived in run-down shacks.

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Photos by Marion Post Walcott via the Library of Congress.

Fast Forward: This Was Charleston in the 70’s

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