Nearing five decades of visual education excellence
Documenting Kentucky
Western Kentucky University's Mountain Workshops grew from a class field trip in 1976 into one of the nation's oldest and largest one-week training camps for visual storytelling.

Since 1976, the Mountain Workshops has been gathering stories of our shared history. This unprecedented visual collection of a rich past reveals the everyday life of the people and places that make our Commonwealth unique and truly, one-of-a-kind.

The video below was produced for our 40th anniversary edition in 2016 located in Frankfort, the capital city of Kentucky.
The History of the Mountain
In 1976, two Western Kentucky University faculty members took a dozen photojournalism students into eastern Kentucky and Tennessee to document the 11 remaining one-room schools there.

The teachers didn't realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of an annual trek designed to sharpen students' skills while documenting small towns in Kentucky and sometimes Tennessee.

Over time the effort morphed into the Mountain Workshops — five concurrent workshops that fine-tune photography, picture-editing, video story telling, data visualization and time-lapse skills of college students and mid-career professionals in an intensive weeklong effort that documents a town and its surrounding countryside.

WKU faculty members are joined by volunteer shooting, editing and writing coaches who travel here from across the country — from The New York Times, from the Los Angeles Times, from National Geographic and a host of other venues — to guide trainees and produce content for a photo exhibit, several multimedia productions, and a book of 100-plus pages.

From their humble beginnings of travel with cameras, black-and-white film and sleeping bags, workshops staff now spend months planning and setting up sophisticated facilities with state-of-the-art computing and digital imaging equipment.

Below is a list of the communities that have been documented since the Mountain began. A book has been published every year starting in 1997. Our recent online archive of the past 20 years is no longer available online, we apologize for this change in our website.
The 2020's
Williamsburg  |  Whitley County
2024 | The 49th annual Mountain
October 22 - 26  | 
Paris  |  Bourbon County
2023 | The 48th annual Mountain
October 24 - 28 | Horse. History. Hospitality.
Leitchfield | Grayson County
2022 | The 47th annual Mountain
October 18 - 22  |  A Community Devoted
Remote Nationwide
2021 | The 46th annual Mountain
October 19 - 23 | Storytelling Across America
COVID | Remote Lecture Series
2020 | The 45th annual Mountain
September 12 | Mountain Sessions
The 2010's
Cynthiana | Harrison County
2019 | The 44th annual Mountain
Mt. Sterling | Montgomery County
2018 | The 43rd annual Mountain
Morehead | Rowan County
2017 | The 42th annual Mountain
Paducah | McCracken County
2016 | The 41st annual Mountain
Frankfort, Ky. | Franklin County
2015 | Our 40th Anniversary
Berea | Madison County
2014 | The 39th annual Mountain
Owensboro | Daviess County
2013 | The 38th annual Mountain
Henderson | Henderson County
2012 | The 37th annual Mountain
Somerset | Pulaski County
2011 | The 36th annual Mountain
Elizabethtown | Hardin County
2010 | The 35th annual Mountain
The 2000's
Murray | Calloway County
2009 | The 34th annual Mountain
Mayfield | Graves County
2008 | The 33rd annual Mountain
Danville | Boyle County
2007 | The 32th annual Mountain
Madisonville | Hopkins County
2006 | The 31st annual Mountain
Lawrenceburg | Anderson County
2005 | Our 30th Anniversary
Lebanon | Marion County
2004 | The 29th annual Mountain
Bardstown | Nelson County
2003 | The 28th annual Mountain
Cave City | Barren County
2002 | The 27th annual Mountain
Hopkinsville | Christian County
2001 | The 26th annual Mountain
Bowling Green | Warren County
2000 | The 25th annual Mountain
The 1990's
Central City | Muhlenburg County
1999 | The 24th annual Mountain
Franklin | Simpson County
1998 | The 23rd annual Mountain
Russellville | Logan County
1997 | The 22nd annual Mountain
Cambellsville | Taylor County
1996 | The 21st annual Mountain
Smithville, Tenn. | DeKalb County
1995 | Our 20th anniversary
Glasgow | Barren County
1994 | The 19th annual Mountain
Jamestown, Tenn. | Fentress County
1993 | The 18th annual Mountain
Columbia | Adair County
1992 | The 17th annual Mountain
Lafayette, Tenn. | Macon County
1991 | The 16th annual Mountain
Monticello | Wayne County
1990 | The 15th annual Mountain
The 1980's
Celina, Tenn | 1984
By Jonathan Newton
Albany | Clinton County
1989 | The 14th annual Mountain
Everyone Knows Everyone Else
Russell Springs | Russell County
1988 | The 13th annual Mountain
On the Shores of Change
Liberty | Casey County
1987 | The 12th annual Mountain
One of the Best Little Towns
Scottsville | Allen County
1986 | The 11th annual Mountain
Edmonton | Metcalfe, County
1985 | The 10 year anniversary
Celina, Tenn. | Clay County
1984 | The 9th annual Mountain
Just a Quiet Little Town
Morgantown | Butler County
1983 | The 8th annual Mountain
Tompkinsville | Monroe County
1982 | The 7th annual Mountain
Burkesville | Cumberland County
1981 | The 6th annual Mountain
Closest Thing to Heaven
Burkesville | Cumberland County
1980 | The 5th annual Mountain
The 1970's
Clairfield, Tenn. | Claiborne County
1979 | The 4th annual Mountain
Land Between the Lakes
1978 | The 3rd annual Mountain
Bowling Green | Main Street
1977 | The 2nd annual Mountain
One-room School House
1976 | The inaugural year