Abandoned churches, school buildings, and houses are common fare on the backroads of West Virginia. I found this old wooden church down a dirt road in Hampshire County, about 7 miles from the city of Paw Paw.
The introduction of automobiles must be partially to blame for the demographic changes in mountains. Even though populations might increase, the local connections can fade away, since neighbors no longer need to rely on neighbors. Instead of a neighborhood church or store, people can drive to the nearest city. Likewise, buses killed the one-room schoolhouse, since with buses it became cheaper to round up children from a larger area and send them to a common school.
I see these kinds of buildings as a sign of lost social connections. They demonstrate a re-organization of society. In Europe, where settlement is older and populations are more dense, settlement patterns haven’t developed as quickly. In America, where land is still relatively cheap, there is neither money and interest to protect and renovation these kinds of buildings, but also little motivation to push them over and build something new.