The Astounding Potato Brother's
Project info

The Astounding Potato Brother’s
(Photographs Intended to Accompany The Diaries of Nathan Field)

Photography by Jonathan Elderfield


Over two years ago, travelling southwest of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, along Route 11, writer Nathan Field drove past an abandoned tractor-trailer sitting in a farm field by the side of the road. The trailer bore the words “The Astounding Potato Brother’s.” Nathan knew there was something peculiar about the trailer – was there a misplaced apostrophe or was there a missing word? The perplexing nature of this question was too strong for Nathan to ignore, so he set out to investigate. Nathan invited documentary photographer Jonathan Elderfield to accompany him on his journey to learn about the lives of the Astounding Potato Brothers. Where did they come from? Were they still alive? What made them astounding? Why potatoes? Writer and photographer travelled throughout the coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania, making more than half a dozen trips over the course of two years in their failed attempt to discover evidence of the so-called Potato Brothers. While they learned to appreciate the raw beauty found in the landscape of the region and to respect the hardy spirit of the characters they met during their journeys, the two weren’t able to unearth neither hide nor hair of the elusive Astounding Potato Brothers. Nathan never published the diaries he kept of his travels in search of the brothers and the diaries seem to have disappeared upon his death. All that remains as evidence of their quest is this set of photographs made by photographer Elderfield.