West Virginia

Image: Jeffrey Santos/Vimeo

In West Virginia, no environmental news is usually good news. The state's public image is already a patchwork of toxic mines, decapitated mountains, nonstick tap water and licorice-scented rivers, and stories of pollution tend to drown out anything positive.

Even with disasters like last month's Elk River chemical spill, however, West Virginia still teems with swaths of unspoiled wilderness that are rare in most states. Despite its reputation for ecological indifference, it retains a closeness between people and natural environments that disappeared long ago from much of the Eastern U.S.

To shed some light on this overlooked side of Appalachia, the video below offers a vivid time-lapse tour of scenery in West Virginia and Kentucky. Filmed by cinematographer Jeffrey Santos last year while shooting a show for the History Channel, it juxtaposes natural landscapes with barns, railroad tracks and other hints of society. Without showing any actual people, the video weaves us into the wilderness in a way that reminds us — despite our often hamhanded hubris — that we're still part of nature, too.

Check it out below, preferably in full-screen and high-definition mode for full effect:

Rippling cloud shadows create dramatic lighting throughout the video, as seen at 1:40, 2:15 and several other points. But the footage is filled with visual gems, like the pine trees at 0:35, the swirling mountain fog at 1:04 and the flash of sunset at 2:45.

Related time-lapse videos on MNN:

Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.

A time-lapse tribute to wild West Virginia
Behind the headlines about chemical spills and despoiled mountains, West Virginia is still a wild, wonderful place.