Keeping rural history alive


SALEM, Ohio — Some farming families found a way to keep their farm in the family for generations. Others had their life journeys take them in other directions, but they still feel the farm blood in their veins.

Many people reminisce of how things were on the farm, but when they return to the property years later, they discover everything looks different.

Pictorial story

A Maumee, Ohio, company, however, is doing all it can to ensure the pictorial story of the farms stays intact. All that is required is knowing the location of a farm.

Vintage Aerial owns nearly 25 million black and white aerial photographs — images of farms and rural homesteads from as far back as 1958 and includes over 44 states.

Ken Krieg, Vintage Aerial director of sales, said nothing beats seeing the pride that beams from families when they get to see a picture of the farm from the past.

“Whether it is a small farm or a large dairy farm, when they see it, it brings back all of those old memories, just as they remember them,” Krieg said.

Vintage Aerial’s image archive of farms and rural America dates to 1958, when the business started photographing homesteads from a two-seater prop plane.


Now, many of the farms captured on film have been sold, torn down and transformed into other uses.

However, that original film is new again through the use of the Internet and the popularity of social networking and genealogy sites.

If the company has a picture of the farm, it can be requested for viewing. The company scans the roll of film that matches the parameters of the farm. Then, the company sends it via e-mail and, if there are numerous shots, a slide show is created and sent to the individual.

The family can then share the images of the farm.

Krieg calls the historical pictures, “a collection of reflections of rural America where people can go back in time.”

He added it is considered to be one of the largest collections of film in existence covering rural America.


Krieg said the company is still in the infancy of a dream to digitalize all of the 25 million images, so they can be acquired through a simple computer keystroke.

When asked what Vintage Aerial gets out of doing the research and scanning, Krieg said it is the hope that the family would purchase a framed picture for on the wall, but it is also the goal just to keep the history alive.

He said as many families become removed from the farm, the digitalization of a photo of the family farm gives the opportunity for offspring — including future generations — to learn about the family history.

“For example, we may not get to meet our great-grandchildren, but through this advancement, they will get to meet their ancestors and get to know us by the stories we leave behind,” Krieg said.


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