Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tobacco Road

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Even if one can't identify tobacco plants as they are growing, the long, low, louvered sheds used for drying the leaves are distinctive. The technology used to make Connecticut's fine cigar binders and wrappers has been much the same for 200 years. It is labor intensive, and as we photographed here, crews of laborers showed off the hatchets with which they cut the tobacco stalks. In order to make the best wrappers, for much of the season the plants must be covered by cloth tents which are removed for harvesting.

Native Americans were smoking tobacco when the first settlers arrived from Europe. By the 1630s the settlers were already making a profit exporting tobacco back to Europe. The soil and climate of the Connecticut River Valley proved to be perfect for growing the high quality leaves needed for the binders and wrappers. Tobacco has always been an engine of the river valley economy, and it has served as an entry point for waves of immigrants.

Even though the popularity of cigar smoking has fallen, Connecticut's tobacco industry remains a significant part of the state economy.


Trotter said...

I see you're back in the fields, so things must be ok now!!

Ted Roth said...

Actually, the tobacco was harvested some months ago. I took this photograph in August. I haven't yet been out making pictures, but with snow due this afternoon, tomorrow morning may be too good to resist.