A cool country barn redux


Old country barn

The man who built this barn was around 10 years old at the end of the War Between the States.. His descendants agreed for me to photograph it and gave me a few details about the structure. Our story includes some detailed pictures of the barn's innards.

We’ve been here before

But some things bear a second look. There has been recent interest expressed in photographing and documenting old barns. It’s nice to know I am no longer alone in this pursuit. Turns out there is a National Barn Alliance too.

I did this story originally in July, 2010. At that time the structure of the original building was sound for the most part. As you can see, you can’t say as much for the add-ons that are omnipresent in most southern barns I see. Let’s hope not much has changed in a couple of years. See our original Cool Country Barn post here.

Be sure and see the original Corndancer Photo of the Week story as well.

Click here for a gallery of 20 pictures of the old barn including inside the structure plus a couple of old churches and a surprise critter.

Click here for a gallery of 42 color and black and white pictures of the barn, plus a churches and critter. This is a flash gallery which Macintosh computers don’t like.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Advertisements

Trolley, train, and truck


The store at Lester Arkansas

Click on the picture to see What's Left at Lester. It's an eye full.

October 23, 2011

Unfortunately this week, the schedule weevils infected my routine and subsequently, my heart-felt desires to photograph a new subject and write a new story were thwarted. As a well experienced, card-carrying human being, I have learned that these things happen and that one should take them in stride while licking ones chops in anticipation of the next adventure.

That being said, I am sending you this week to tiny Lester, Arkansas, a place I first visited in January of 2009. What Lester lacks in size, it more than makes up for in pure curiosity in its remaining commercial structure, the old “store.” Take a look at “What’s left at Lester.” While you are clicking be sure and see (as in “don’t miss”) the original Lester pictures and story on the January 25, 2009 Corndancer Photo of the Week page.

Restored Fort Smith Trolley

This trolley at the Fort Smith Trolley Museum is completely cosmetically restored. The restorers are now working on some final mechanical and electrical details to make the car fully operational.

 While visiting Fort Smith, Arkansas, the place of my birth and upbringing until my 15th year, during a high-school reunion, I stumbled across the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and discovered a old trolley nearly restored to operational condition. As you can see, the restoration job is pristine as would be expected when the labor is provided by dedicated volunteers. The museum people were very congenial and informative. You can follow the trolley museum on Facebook.

James E. Reynolds monument in Oak Cemetery Fort Smith AR

Click on the picture to see this unique monument

Actually, the trolley was my second shoot of the morning. The first was at Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith, where I hooked up with some high school classmates to shoot a unique and remarkable monument.

At the time, the appearance of the grave was reason enough to make a special trip to shoot it. Turns out, there was a story behind the artistry in the cemetery. Go to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com to to see the monument and get in on an interesting story. We’ll wait here for you.

Meanwhile, back at the trolley museum, the trolley crew told me about the restored trolley. Museum officials found the trolley rotting in a field west of Hot Springs, Arkansas. The last place of the trolley’s active service was in Hot Springs. They showed me a picture of the trolley as they found it. The nicest thing you can say about the trolley as they found it was “pitiful.” What the Fort Smith volunteers have done with the trolley is miraculous. They are performing similar miracles on another trolley in the same shop, this one, an open trolley from Vera Cruz, Mexico.

Frisco steam locomotive 4130

Frisco steam locomotive 4003 on static display at the Fort Smith trolley museum.

 The folks at the trolley museum show an interest in more than trolleys. They have a nice collection of rail equipment including cabooses, a dining car, and a whopper of a steam locomotive, the 4003 from the former Frisco Railroad. As I recall, back in the day, Fort Smith was served by the Frisco and the Kansas City Southern railroads and each railroad had their own depots.

An environmental picture

Abandoned native stone building on I-40

The environment for this old abandoned native stone structure is I-40, just south of Clarksville, Arkansas. Its job is to watch traffic go by.

One of my deals as a photographer is to show the subject in its environment which generally means that closeups are not a dominant force in my portfolio. I like to show some surroundings. Having driven by this old building on I-40 south of Clarksville AR about a jillion times without noticing it, I was delighted to finally notice it on this trip — while being ashamed of myself for not noticing it earlier. Then it occurred to me that I should probably include interstate traffic if I was to hold to my thing with a bit of environment in the shot. It took about a 100 shots or so to catch a truck in just the right place, but was worth the wait. In the immortal words of Hank Snow, the truck was “movin’ on.” I set the shutter speed high.

Old barn on US Highway 64

This old barn on US 64 has seen better days and is now a detritus dump.

 On the trip to Fort Smith, I was running ahead of schedule, so I dropped off the interstate and traveled north on US Highway 64, the artery which was replaced as the main east-west thoroughfare by I-40. I figured I would spy an old barn or two and was not disappointed. The remnants of a lightning rod system are dangling from the peak of the roof. From all appearances the last use of the barn was typical of many in their last useful days — a repository for the the stuff you don’t want to throw away (but probably should), but can’t find anywhere else to dump it. And life goes on.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

A tale of two bridges


The unexpected, towers from the abandoned rail bridge next to the highway bridge, shot through the windshield, on  a long zoom which tends to bring the towers closer together.

The unexpected, towers from the abandoned rail bridge next to the highway bridge, shot through the windshield, on a long zoom which tends to bring the towers closer together.

As you first cross the U.S. Highway 70 bridge just north of DeValls Bluff, Arkansas you are taken aback by the sight of two drawbridge towers left over from a bygone era. The towers are part of the former Cotton Belt Railroad bridge over the White River next door to the highway bridge. The old bridge was taken out of service in 1982. A DeValls Bluff businessman bought the bridge for $1.00 and still owns it.

This story got its start on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see more pictures of the bridge(s) and get in on the start of the story, a very cool thing to do.

Fortunately there is a road leading through a small riverbank community of houses on stilts which goes nearly to the foot of the old bridge. After that, it is simply a matter of inching down a steep riverbank reinforced with rip-rap to get into the correct place for a low-angle shot. It is a slow, deliberate traipse over impending disaster with a tripod, camera and a couple of lenses.

from te banks

From the riverbank, the old bridge is massive and impressive. Since the river is very low now, I was able to set up much lower in the river bed that I would under normal conditions. This accentuates the wide angle perspective. Considering its age, the old bridge is holding up well.

Turns out the real menace was a small strip of slick mud close to the water which put me on my duff near the water’s edge. Nothing was hurt but my feelings and I did get  a closer look at the ‘coon tracks left over from last nights coon supper. The view from the banks was worth the trouble. From where I was, I decided I wanted get closer to the old bridge. And that I did.

Looking down the bore, so to speak, after a climb up a homemade ladder.

Looking down the bore, so to speak, after a climb up a homemade ladder. At the upper left, the extensions from the bridge held railroad signal lights. Telephone and telegraph wires were strung across the right side. The gravel pile in the foreground was dumped there to discourage wheeled interlopers from the entering the abandoned bridge. You can see the bottom half of the north lifting mechanism counterweight in the middle of the bridge.

After a short stomp through some low weeds in a small stand of trees, I found the north end of the old bridge. It terminated as a wall. Lo and behold, there was a ladder (homemade and old, but sturdy), leaning against the wall. I’m guessing the wall and ladder are in the 16′ foot range in height. With a mite of trepidation, I climbed the ladder, stepping over one rung which appeared not capable of holding my weight.

Questioning my presence

After I arrived at the top, I was no longer in the convenient defilade afforded by the underbrush below. I was on the old bridge and in plain view. bigger’n Dallas. I said to my self, self, before you finish shooting up here, someone is going to arrive on the scene and question your presence. My prognostications were correct. I completed my shots and was tearing down equipment and preparing to descend, when I heard a four-wheeler engine approaching. Company was arriving.

No harm intended or perpetrated

In a few minutes, as I was about to start my descent, a young man toting a .22 rifle appeared at the bottom of the bridge and asked if I had encountered any red wasps on the bridge. I allowed as how I hadn’t, but I did take a number of pictures. He was a polite man and we engaged in a conversation. He became convinced that my intentions were honorable and that I had done no harm to the bridge. Concurrently, I became convinced that he would do no harm to me. Turns out he lives nearby and keeps an eye on the bridge for his friend the owner. He was doing his due diligence and had no idea what to expect. The bridge is normally festooned with “Posted” signs which were obliterated in a spring flood and never replaced. To me, that means open season. He was satisfied. I was satisfied. And I got the shots. All’s well that ends well.

Paul Hofstad, DeValls Bluff, Arkansas

Paul Hofstad, DeValls Bluff, Arkansas

This trip to DeValls Bluff was the second one in as many days. The day before, I took the shot at the top of the page and afterward, decided that it was foolish to drive and shoot simultaneously,  and harbor any expectations of a lengthy life.

To solve the problem, I garnered the services of a young man by the name of Paul Hofstad. I suggested that if he would allow me in the bed of his pickup and he ferried me across the highway bridge as I shot, he would have an extra ten bucks on Saturday night. The deal was struck and the picture is below.  Paul is a student at Phillips Community College. He is nearly finished with his course of studies  in wildlife management which he hopes will culminate in a job with the federal wildlife service. Thanks and good luck Paul.

Shot from the bed of Paul Hofstad's red Ford pickup.

Shot from the bed of Paul Hofstad's red Ford pickup.

“And now, as the sun slowly sinks in the west,” we are pleased to present the next entry in our continuing display of Joe Webb’s magnificent collection of signs. This time, dig the old, old, er … ancient,  Pepsi logo.

The sho' nuff old, old, old, er ... ah, ancient Pepsi logotype

The sho' nuff old, old, old, er ... ah, ancient Pepsi logotype

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

http://joedempseyphoto.com/

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

133 years and still counting


If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer dot com photo of the week page, the story continues. If you haven’t been to the photo of the week page and want to be regaled with a couple of additional photos and the start of the story of a family that has kept it’s reunion going for 133 years, click here.

What you see here is southern potluck at it's finest. And you are seeing just a fraction of it. There are five more tables just like this one, brimming with mouthwatering cuisine from home kitchens. It's chow-time at the 133rd  Marks-Barnett Family Reunion in Cleveland County, Arkansas.

What you see here is southern potluck at it's finest. And you are seeing just a fraction of it. There are five more tables just like this one, brimming with mouthwatering cuisine from home kitchens. It's chow-time at the 133rd Marks-Barnett Family Reunion in Cleveland County, Arkansas, June 7, 2009. The total caloric value might power an aircraft carrier a respectable distance.

Remarkable people

The Marks family is truly a remarkable group in many ways. Their cemetery is the most visible evidence of their dogged determination to “do-right.” . In the early fifties, several of the family shook their heads in disgust and mused that their family cemetery, a horrible mess at best, deserved better. And that’s about all it took to spark a cemetery renaissance via no small amount of sweat equity.

Today the well kept cemetery not only is the final resting place for beloved relatives and ancestors, it is an evolving showplace of history and southern rural culture. The grounds around the cemetery are laced with nature trails, some of which follow small streams. While negotiating the trails, one will find several small, but sturdy foot bridges over gullies, and creeks where a stumble or splash might ruin an otherwise pleasant stroll through the woods.

 

Marks Cemetery, the site of the Marks Family Reunion is close enough to the site of the War Between the States Battle of Marks Mill, the creeks were red with blood during the battle. It was reported that “ ... so many horses and soldiers were killed or wounded that Salty Branch (above) ran red with blood.” Today, Salty Branch is a clear placid stream, a far cry from the violence of April 25, 1864. One of the hiking trails around the cemetery follows the trace of the stream.

Marks Cemetery, the site of the Marks Family Reunion is close enough to the site of the War Between the States Battle of Marks Mill, the creeks were red with blood during the battle. It was reported that “ ... so many horses and soldiers were killed or wounded that Salty Branch (above) ran red with blood.” Today, Salty Branch is a clear placid stream, a far cry from the violence of April 25, 1864. One of the hiking trails around the cemetery follows the trace of the stream.

A large number antique farm implements place around the grounds are visible evidence of the agrarian nature of the areas economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Plaques at every piece of equipment give evidence of  it use. This horse-drawn planter is a good example. The planter was donated to the cemetery collection in memory of  Tate “Uncle Bud” McGehee “Miss Vaughn” McGehee. Family member Edgar Colvin installed the planter at the cemetery, The plaque information, typical of the collection reveals a story. The planter was bought by Mr. McGehee in 1920. He always said, “ ... this planter is so accurate that if it drops two seeds in a hill, it will reach back and pick up one of them.”

A large number antique farm implements placed around the grounds are visible evidence of the agrarian nature of the areas economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Plaques at every piece of equipment give evidence of it use. This horse-drawn planter is a good example. The planter was donated to the cemetery collection in memory of Tate “Uncle Bud” McGehee “Miss Vaughn” McGehee. Family member Edgar Colvin installed the planter at the cemetery, The plaque information, typical of the collection, reveals a story. The planter was bought by Mr. McGehee in 1920. He always said, “ ... this planter is so accurate that if it drops two seeds in a hill, it will reach back and pick up one of them.”

James and James Boney, of New Edinburg bring their extensive collection of Civil War relics to the annual reunion. The elder James Boney found most of the collection on the battlefields of The Battle of Marks Mill. Younger James is a well-spring of Civil War information and Elder Boney is a respected source of information on the Battle of Marks Mill.

 

Left to right, (and vice-versa) James Stoney and James Stoney and their Civil War relic collection.

Left to right, (and vice-versa) James Boney and James Boney and their Civil War relic collection

I would be remiss if I did not make mention Spears Country Store, not far from Marks Cemetery. Not having been to the cemetery site before, I decided that a reconnaissance trip on Saturday before the reunion on Sunday would be a good idea. After my visit to and a few shots on the grounds, I meandered to nearby New Edinburg and dropped into Spears Country Store for what is known in southern parlance as a “cole drank.” (It is my understanding that some misguided souls call the refreshment a “soda.”) I was delighted to discover that the store offered sandwiches. I ordered a ham and turkey sandwich. It was so fine! And a hand full. Jerry Clowers would have probably said you could “ … eat one of those suckers and work all day at the saw mill.”

Spears Country Store

Spears Country Store, New Edinburg, Arkansas

Folks, there is a lot of goodness left in our world. From families to stores and sandwiches, this ol’ boy found ’em this weekend.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey