ACE EPIC member Kat Connelly is currently stationed at the Blue Ridge Parkway working as a Digital Photo Archives Technician. Here is a little bit of what she has to say about her current position!
“As the digital archives technician, my responsibilities focus mostly on managing the digital assets, corresponding with our liaison at NPGallery, and assisting the Curator with individual photo requests. These could range anywhere from historic preservation projects to family members of Blue Ridge Parkway staff. The historic collection I work with contains around 10,000 images on photocards, but there are more in the Archives, lurking around in folders, and even tucked elsewhere from time to time. Some photos are gifted to the park as well, and were added to the collection that way. For the most part, the photographs I process were taken by Blue Ridge Parkway staff or official Department of the Interior photographers.
On an average day, I will process a few hundred photos, enter data, and remove any duplicates, small negatives, cards without adhered photos, or ones without known copyright restrictions. Between my hours of devoted screen time, I keep up with park updates, chat with fellow staff, hike the Mountain to Sea Trail at lunch each day, and continue learning the breadth of history this park has both inside and outdoors. Many people do not realize the Blue Ridge Parkway is managed by the National Park Service, since it spans 469 miles over two states and several counties. But if you look at the history and reason for building this scenic parkway — to link Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — there are various environments, terrains, towns, and cultural areas the road brings access for visitors to see and explore.
I had the opportunity to drive the entire Virginia portion and a little into North Carolina before starting this position. Time constraints pushed me to the highway eventually, but the few days of meandering from Skyline Drive to Milepost 0 and then onward south was beautiful, especially as fall foliage lined the edges and remaining colorful trees dotted the landscape at overlooks. These are spots visitors have stopped at for more than six decades, and each day I see historic photos of the same places I chose to pull my car off and stretch the legs. So as a photographer who shoots with film and loves the aesthetic of old photographs, you can only imagine the joy and fascination I find in these thousands of captured moments.”
Photos Courtesy National Park Service, Blue Ridge Parkway