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Documenting a Postindustrial steel area

Student’s book aims to honor her hometown’s past but move it forward

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By Staff


Cheyenne Snow has been photographing her hometown area of Lebanon County in southeastern Pennsylvania for the past year, captivated by hints of the region’s past prosperity and heritage. 

When her grandfather died, she began to focus on documenting pieces related to the steel industry. He worked at Lebanon Steel Foundry (“the best job and the best times he had in his life,” she says).

Snow, who turns 21 in January, captured these images in a book she self-published in December, “Annealing America.” She began the project as part of her work at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster.

Cheyenne Snow

The goal of her project, she says in her artist’s statement, “is to connect Lebanon and the collapsing of the steel industry to the deep-rooted ties it has to my family, while also weaving in my emotional response. While this project is about the local community it relates to the thousands of other towns and people in America that have also experienced similar decline and devastation.”

The region was also once home to Cleaver-Brooks, Bethlehem Steel, Cornwall Mines, and the Lebanon Concentrator. Like many other communities, too, those places closed.

She began by photographing — then started recording stories of former steelworkers, who recounted the decline of their industry.

While respecting the past, Tobias says it’s time to move forward. She isn’t sure if she’s going to settle in her hometown or not, but she’d like to see more people bring new ideas and open new businesses.

“Lebanon has the potential to exponentially grow if we put in the work and give a new, fresh perspective,” she writes in her artist statement. “Embrace diversity, welcome new downtown businesses, and create a networking hub between different businesses to promote each other while also growing the downtown district. It’s time to welcome new and fresh perspectives to our community and stop letting what has happened define our future.”

Lebanon has the potential to exponentially grow if we put in the work and give a new, fresh perspective. Embrace diversity, welcome new downtown businesses, and create a networking hub between different businesses to promote each other while also growing the downtown district.

While this project is about the local community it relates to the thousands of other towns and people in America that have also experienced similar decline and devastation.

Tobias is selling copies of the book for $35. To learn more, contact her at cheyenne.tobias123@gmail.com

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