Photographer Keith Dotson Announces a New eBook: The Wheeling Portfolio

Photographer Keith Dotson Announces a New eBook: The Wheeling Portfolio

Fine art photographer Keith Dotson announces a new digital ebook, The Wheeling Portfolio

I published my first book in 2019. It’s a book of abandoned places photographs and it’s available on Amazon and on my website.

I really enjoyed the process of writing and putting that together. It was a huge task and a real learning experience for me. I’ve been pondering ideas for a follow-up book ever since. I’m currently developing a followup book to that one. My goal is to make it bigger and better than the first one. But that book is still in early stages of creation.

Announcing my new ebook

Meanwhile, I’ve been working really hard on a new 49-page ebook. It’s called The Wheeling Portfolio, and it’s an outgrowth of a portfolio of images made last summer in South Wheeling, West Virginia.

But, you can go to my website and see that same portfolio of images for free, so why would you pay $4.99 for this ebook? Because there’s a lot more to the ebook than just the portfolio.

The Wheeling Portfolio, a collection of black and white photographs of historic architecture in South Wheeling, West Virginia.
The Wheeling Portfolio, a collection of black and white photographs of historic architecture in South Wheeling, West Virginia. Download the digital file for $4.99.

More than a portfolio, it’s a history of Wheeling and the buildings shown in the images

Here are the details:

  • PDF
  • 49-pages
  • 108 MB (high-resolution)
  • Published October 2021

This ebook is more than just a portfolio. I wanted to give context to the images and why they matter to me. The book is a thoroughly researched text that gives my rationale for this project. It gives some history about the city of Wheeling, West Virginia — which I’ll admit — I never thought would be the slightest bit interesting — but in fact, it’s a fascinating place, an Ohio river town with a history filled with colorful characters.

But even better than that, I found some great resources online that helped me establish dates and history for most of the old abandoned buildings seen in the portfolio. So not only do you see the buildings, you’ll learn when they were built and some of the people or businesses who occupied them.

Finally, The portfolio section includes metadata from the camera for each photograph. And of course, all of the sources for the historical information are cited in case you care to learn more.

Henry Schmulbach: a larger-than-life multi-millionaire

I became enthralled with the Schmulbach buildings because they had these amazing carved faces on their exterior. The brewery was so successful, it comprised maybe a dozen or so structures in the vicinity, most of which are still standing, even though the brewery closed in 1914. Some of those are now abandoned while others still house businesses today.

Schmulbach Brewery Arch with Ornate Tile Patterns Circa 1891: Black and White Photograph by Keith Dotson
Schmulbach Brewery Arch with Ornate Tile Patterns Circa 1891: Black and White Photograph. Click to buy a fine art print.

You can read the story of the Schmulbach Brewery and its charismatic namesake, Henry Schmulbach. Born in Germany, he came to the U.S. with his parents at 8 years of age. He went from working as a penniless cabin boy on a riverboat to becoming a multi-millionaire.

Not only did he buy the Nail City Brewery and rename it after himself, he also built the state’s first big office building with his name on it — you could call it West Virginia’s first skyscraper. And he owned a lot of other businesses as well. His personal logo was a capital S with two vertical lines — that’s right — a dollar sign. It can still be seen on the gates of his city house in South Wheeling.

But he was also a civic leader and a benefactor for the city. This larger than life character still casts a long shadow in Wheeling, even more than 100 years after his death.

But there were other sides to Henry Schmulbach as well:

  • Why were there five men named “Henry Schmulbach” recognized in his last will and testament?
  • How did he come to be tried for murder?

You can find out in the e-Book.

The ebook will be an ongoing document, with periodic updates

I’ve learned from publishing histories in my blog posts and videos that often the information from my research is wrong, or incomplete, or maybe just misinterpreted. I sometimes hear from people with conflicting information, telling me that I’m wrong. Sadly, a YouTube video can’t be corrected and republished, but an ebook can. My intention is that this will be a living document. Not only will I expand and correct it over time, but I intend to add more photographs from future trips to Wheeling. 

Inside the current book is a version number and a code for free downloads on future iterations of the document. That’s one advantage of self-publishing an ebook.

I hope you’ll check it out — I put a ton of work into it. It’s available on my website, and it’s a big file, more than 100 MB. But I wanted you to be able to see the images in crisp detail.   

About the cover

Cover graphics were adapted from an 1884 fire map of Wheeling, West Virginia, created by the Sanborn Map and Publishing Co., Limited, of New York. The company published detailed and elaborately designed maps for the insurance industry from the mid-1800s until 1961. Sanborn has continued into the 21st Century as a modern geospatial mapping and LIDAR service. Fingerprints and smudges are part of the original scans made by the Library of Congress. Sanborn maps published prior to January 1, 1926 are in the public domain.

Download the new ebook here

Video: Behind-the-scenes with Keith Dotson as he photographs historic architecture in South Wheeling

Thanks for reading

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at

~ Keith

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