Val Hufford is one of many Evansville, Indiana-area people who spend their weekends – and sometimes their whole lives – living in campers or trailers on stilts along the Ohio River. Val enjoys a morning cigarette as she walks to sit in her bench overlooking the river on Oct. 21, 2017.
Xavier Short, 7, has spent much of his childhood visiting and staying with his grandfather Joe Short, who lives at the riverbank year-round in the home pictured in Dade, Ky. on Nov. 25, 2017. Xavier likes the feeling of being “in the wild” that he has at the riverbank. “There’s wild all around you like the trees and leaves and grass… the trees change from dark green to light green, and even red to orange to yellow,” Xavier said. “Mother Nature changes."
Joe Short’s roosters and hens sit in a tree at dusk outside his home in Dade, Ky. on Nov. 25, 2017. Short has kept roosters and hens for years, but the flooding in March and April 2018 wiped them out.
Eric Wytovak and Dan Hufford enjoy a fire between their camps in Dade, Ky., on Nov. 4, 2017. The Wytovaks and the Huffords have known each other for over 20 years, and the Wytovaks decided to get a lot at the riverbank after visiting the Hufford's lot.
A woman's hair is illuminated on a tractor hay ride during a birthday party on Oct. 21, 2017.
Val Hufford plays beer pong at a birthday party for her friend at the riverbank in Dade, Ky. on Oct. 21, 2017. Parties are frequent at the river, and often birthdays are celebrated communally.
Decorations are a part of the riverbank culture. A plastic dog guards the dirt road along the camps while a barge passes in the dark in Dade, Ky. on Oct. 22, 2017.
Nick Will puts on a show of spinning fireballs for a crowd of friends and people he just met at the riverbank in Dade, Ky. on October 21, 2017. That evening was Will’s first trip to the river community. Though he came to visit friends, he ended up visiting other camps to perform his fire show multiple times.
At the end of the night, Val Hufford and Cathy Cobb-Gish chat in Val’s RV on Dec. 9, 2017. Even in the winter months, the self-proclaimed “River Rats” love escaping the city and spending time in their camps.
The glow from distant cities in Kentucky lights up the sky on Oct. 21, 2017. Freedom, and escaping the city's responsibilities, is the biggest draw to the river for most of the River Rats. “See that glow out there?” said Eric Wytovak, gesturing to the city lights. “That’s reality. This right here, this is life.”
Evan Gaultney, right, and Kevin Holder shoot at a clay target with friends in an empty field behind the riverbank in Dade, Ky. on Nov. 28, 2017. Evan’s friend Derek DeTalente, not pictured, grew up coming to the river because both sets of his grandparents had lots at the riverbank. DeTalente said when he was younger, there used to be more people and other kids around. He remembers riding bikes around trails under the bridge.
Before going back to her home in Evansville at the end of the weekend, Val Hufford takes in the view and fresh air at her camp at the riverbank in Dade, Ky. on Oct. 22, 2017. Sunday mornings at the river are Hufford's last chance to take in the peacefulness of the camp before returning to the city.