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Appalachia struggles to overcome poverty

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Brittany Brewer fixes her gown on April 21 as she prepares for the Owsley County High School prom next to a wood stove in the home where she lives with her grandmother in Booneville, Ky.

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Volunteers help restore the Noble Pioneer Museum which contains artifacts of local Appalachian pioneer life. The site contains original pioneer cabins and is currently closed but volunteers hope they will be able to re-open it soon.

Daniel Boone once camped in the Appalachian mountain hamlet of Owsley County which remains mostly populated by descendants of settlers to this day.

The 2010 U.S. Census listed Owsley County as having the lowest median household income in the country outside of Puerto Rico, with 41.5 percent of residents living below the poverty line. Familial and community bonds run deep, with a people who share a collective historical and cultural legacy uncommon in most parts of the country.

However, the community of 5,000 struggles with unemployment because of the decline in coal, tobacco and timber industries. Health issues include drug addiction without effective treatment.

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Riders pass an abandoned car during the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride on April 20 in Booneville, Ky. The trail ride attracts riders from outside the county who contribute much needed revenue.

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Paul Neace, 72, sits in his home in Owsley County on April 20 in Booneville, Ky.

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James Moore plays the guitar as Robert Go sings while revelers hug at Joe's Meat Market #2 in Owsley County on April 20 in Booneville, Ky.

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A man reads a newspaper in a restaurant in Booneville, Ky.

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Mose Noble and Lowell Morris sit while taking a break from cleaning a cemetery in Owsley County in Booneville, Kentucky. Morris' grandfather killed Noble's grandfather during a time in Appalachia when blood family feuds still existed. The county contains hundreds of centuries-old graveyards. Morris is paid $8 per hour to do the work while Noble volunteers.

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Mose Noble's nephew Johnny Noble, 9, sits in Mose's trailer during a visit on April 21 in Owsley County, Ky. Johnny visits his uncle from time to time. Noble's trailer has no electricity or running water but he receives governmental and neighborly assistance.

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An abandoned building in Owsley County, Ky.

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The Taylor family waits to attend the start of the Owsley County High School prom on on April 21 in Booneville, Ky.

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Married students Travis and Starr Lewis with their daughter Ariel, 3 weeks, attend the Owsley County High School prom on April 21.

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