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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
Filed under: Behind the Scenes, but wait, there's more | Tagged: Arkansas, Fort Smith Arkansas, Fort Smith Trolley Museum, Frisco 4003, Frisco steam locomotive, Frisco steam locomotive 4003, History, Museum, Old hot springs trolley, restored hot springs trolley, steam locomotive, Tram, Transportation, Trolleys | 5 Comments »