The Riverdale mobile home park used to sit on the banks of the Susquehanna River in north-central Pennsylvania. It housed working families with modest incomes. Earlier this year, all the Riverdale trailer families were evicted to make room for a pump station and pipeline that would move Susquehanna water to fracking sites elsewhere in the state.
Some from Riverdale went willingly. Some did not. Some stayed to fight the evictions. Everyone shared in the hardships. The disruption unsettled families and undermined their support networks as they wondered what to do and where to go.
BURN host Alex Chadwick visits the stories of Riverdale with free lance photographer and Pennsylvania resident Lynn Johnson, who works on assignment for National Geographic.
Click on each image to see the full-size photo in a new window. Close that window to return to this essay.
1. Residents say the Riverdale Mobile Home Park near Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania was truly a community. People watched each other’s children.
2. When the property was sold in February 2012 to a company that provides water to the shale gas industry, residents’ leases were terminated, and they had to pay to move their homes to new locations. Some organized and vowed to keep their community.
3. Deb Eck, with her twin daughters, works long hours managing a retail store. She became a reluctant movement leader.
4. The kids at Riverdale witnessed their village being emptied, and they absorbed the increasingly tense efforts to keep it intact.
5. Many community meetings were held at this site after the trailer home was removed.
6. Eric and April Daniels are former residents of Riverdale who set up a tent on the site to show solidarity with their neighbors. Eric hauls contaminated frack water 12 hours a day to Ohio and back.
7. As residents who couldn’t afford to move their trailers were forced to evacuate Riverdale, some stripped their former homes of valuables, such as the aluminum siding.
8. As some residents fought their dislocation, they got lessons in civil disobedience from local and regional organizers.
9. When residents and organizers blocked company access to the park, the new owners, Aqua America and Penn Virginia Resources, brought in their own security team.
10. Wendy Lynne Lee, a professor of environmental philosophy at Bloomsburg University, confronts a security man who was documenting organizers’ license plates.
11. The new owners erected chain link fencing around what was becoming adisputed construction zone. The fence residents who remained separated from those who had become their advocates.
12. Finally, resident and movement leader Deb Eck made the decision to move.
13. By mid-June 2012, the last families left Riverdale Mobile Home Park.
14. With their trailer moved to a nearby mobile home community, Deb Eck and her daughters still cannot escape fracking: there’s a well just over the ridge, and there’s constant truck traffic on her narrow road.
Photojournalist Lynn Johnson is known for her intense, sensitive work.
Photojournalist Lynn Johnson
Photojournalist Lynn Johnson is known for her intense and sensitive work, photographing the global human condition for the past 35 years. As a regular contributor to publications such as National Geographic and various foundations, Johnson has documented everything from celebrities and tragedies, bringing a subtle perspective to tough issues—the scourge of landmines, the value of threatened languages, living with HIV and the global danger of zoonotic disease.
Her photographs, created with fairness and compassion are an attempt to honor and share the stories of others. After 30 years in her profession, she now sees her perspective moving from that of observer to advocate. Johnson uses her role as photographer and teacher to promote dialogue and encourage a change in attitudes and perceptions of intolerance and prejudice. Her Master’s thesis as a Knight Fellow at Ohio University, Hate Kills, illuminates the impact of hate crimes on American society.
She is also a frequent educator with National Geographic’s Photo Camps, using photography to help at-risk youth around the world to develop their own voices.
Awards for Lynn Johnson’s work
- Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Coverage of the Disadvantaged
- World Press Awards
- Pictures of the Year Award - University of Missouri School of Journalism
Links to Lynn Johnson’s work