Here's a photo from my archives. It was taken in the 1988 to 1990 time frame in Gallia County, Ohio.
That's the Ashland Inc. towboat Valvoline across the river. But I'm more interested in the burley tobacco in the foreground.
Burley tobacco is one of three varieties used in making cigarettes. About two-thirds or more of burley tobacco grown in the United States is grown in Kentucky, but it has been the main cash crop of small farms along the Ohio River.
Up until a few years ago, it was common to see tobacco growing along the Ohio River from Gallipolis, Ohio, to around Huntington, W.Va. For years Huntington had a tobacco market where farmers brought their crop to auction to tobacco companies. I spent one or two days each fall unloading a pickup truck at the Huntington market. A lot of people used tobacco to get through the winter, and many used their crops to pay their bills at my father's grocery store.
I have many memories of my older sisters sitting behind a tractor on a tobacco setter. The burning of the tobacco bed was a highlight of spring, as it was done at night. There was suckering, spudding vs. splitting, taking it to the barn, hanging it, taking it down, stripping it and tying it, later replaced by baling. In 1978, I did a newspaper article on a man who had invented a machine that stripped leaves from the stalks mechanically, although people still had to sort them into bright, lugs and trash manually.
But things change. Namely, price supports and production quotas and off-shore cigarette production and smoking regulations and such. Now you don't see as much tobacco growing in small patches along the river road.
Also, you don't see as many large-scale gardens where people raise produce to sell on the Huntington market, but that's a reminiscence for another time.