Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wyant's Store - White Hall, Virginia

For the rest of this week, we will be looking at country stores. In the past, I have photographed a number of old stores, concentrating on ones that were abandoned and shooting mostly in black and white. (See here.) This week, the stores are all open for business, and photographed in color.

White Hall is a crossroads community in Albemarle County. Nestled up against the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains the community was first settled in the first half of the 18th century. The original Wyant's Store was built in 1888, but that building burned in 1918 and was replaced by the building that still stands today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flood wall protects the Vicksburg waterfront

Mississippi River Flood - 2011

Vicksburg, the "hill city," is located on high bluffs above the river, so only a few streets along the waterfront were threatened by the flood and most of this area is protected by a concrete flood wall.  Land along the river both to the north and south of Vicksburg were subject to extensive flooding.

The section of flood wall  in the photo above is a temporary wall to prevent flood water from going around the northern end of the permanent flood wall. Pumps are handling leakage in the wall. The railroad tracks leading north out of Vicksburg had to be severed in order to install the wall. The train depot on the other side of the wall is flooded up to the first floor windows. (See yesterday's post.)

Levee street, looking west toward the river. This is another view of the temporary flood wall, which is perpendicular to the permanent flood wall. There are murals painted on the permanent wall, which can be seen in the distance

Here, the gate in the permanent concrete flood wall which runs parallel to the Yazoo diversion canal has been closed up with temporary timbers. The pipe on the right is the discharge of a large pump that is pumping leakage back over the wall.

Standing in front of the train depot, looking north beyond the end of the flood wall. The entire waterfront would look like this if the flood wall was not in place.

The Kansas City Southern freight yard is protected by the flood wall and has remained dry. The railroad was not taking chances though, and removed all of the rolling stock from the normally crowded yard.

My wife's uncle owns a large farm a few miles south of Vicksburg. Previous floods have inundated the fields, but this is the first time that water has reached the house. Because the extent of the flood was known weeks in advance, they were able to remove all of their belongings from the house. There is four to five feet of water in the house, which is located about two and one-half miles from the Mississippi River.

Andy Morang, who lives in Vicksburg, has lots of pictures of the flood on his blog Urban Decay. In addition to the pictures, Andy has excellent background information on the mechanics of the flood and its effects.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Station - Vicksburg, Mississippi - May 21, 2011 

The old railroad depot in Vicksburg, Mississippi has been inundated by the flooding along the Mississippi River. I was in Vicksburg last weekend and was able to see first-hand the effects of the flood. The picture above was taken on Saturday afternoon, a day after the river had crested at 57.1 feet, exceeding the great 1927 flood by over a foot to set a new record.

The city of Vicksburg is located on bluffs above the river, safe from flooding except for the low area along the waterfront, which is protected by a flood wall. Unfortunately, the old depot building is just outside the flood wall.

This picture of the station was taken in June, 2010. Behind the building to the right is a glimpse of normal water levels in the Yazoo Diversion Canal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Water lily - Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge - North Carolina 

The second day of our North Carolina trip last week we intended to drive down through the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and explore some of the waterways near Swan's Quarter. Unfortunately, the road was closed due to a wildfire that is burning in Dare County. Nearly 4000 acres have burned and smoke covers a large portion of eastern North Carolina. Investigators have determined that the fire was caused by lightening.

We studied the map for a few minutes, and decided that the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge looked promising, so we headed west. After a stop in Columbia for lunch (Mike's Kitchen--recommended if you are in the area) we put the boat in the the Roanoke River.

The Roanoke River is much larger than the Scuppernong, and there were power boats zipping up and down the river. Because of the threat of rain, I was carrying my 8 year old point and shoot camera, but it started acting up on me and this shot of the flowering water lily was about the only usable picture of the day. Later the sun came out and the day turned warm and summer-like. It was a good day to be out on the water.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scuppernong River near Creswell, North Carolina 

Mother Duck

Last Friday afternoon, my friend Tom and I arrived at a small landing on the Scuppernong River near Creswell, North Carolina. We had stopped there last winter (see here) and made plans to return and explore the river in the inflatable boat.

The day did not look promising. It had rained earlier and was still spitting rain as we got the boat ready to launch. But the rain held off, and we enjoyed a peaceful afternoon, following the narrow stream through the woodlands and marshes.

The Wood Duck is also known as the Carolina Duck, and the Scuppernong provides an ideal habitat. Wood Ducks raise large families, incubating 7 to 15 or more eggs. The ducklings leave the nest almost immediately after hatching and take to the water.

A hen and a dozen or so ducklings were in the middle of the river, and as we approached the mother duck took flight, leading her brood to safety. The ducklings were too young to fly, but with furious flapping of their tiny wings and and paddling with their webbed feet, the ducklings skimmed across the surface of the water. Their escape was noisy and rather comical, but effective; very quickly they disappeared from view.

As we watched the small flock scurry down the river, a duckling popped out of the water with a plop, not six feet from the bow of the boat. Maybe he was underwater when the excitement started or maybe he elected to dive in response to the danger, but now he was all alone. I have no idea how the mother duck knew she was missing a baby, but I looked up to see her flying fast and low across the water like a fighter plane on a strafing run, directly toward the boat. Seeing his mama, the duckling paddled and flapped his way to safety. Mother duck dropped into the water a short distance from the boat, quacking weakly and flopping about with one wing, injured and easy prey to distract us from her ducklings. She thrashed her way almost to the bank, and then burst from the water and returned to her brood. Mother Wood Ducks lead a busy life.

The male Wood Duck is thought to be the most handsome of all species of ducks, but this mother duck was absolutely gorgeous in her competence and selfless strength. She was a pretty good little actress, too.

There are outstanding pictures of Wood Ducks at Delta Waterfowl.
Photo of the Wood Duck duckling by Kevin Cole - licensed through Creative Commons

Monday, May 16, 2011

Waterfront - Elizabeth City, North Carolina 

This weekend I made a trip to North Carolina and spent a couple of days exploring more of the wetlands and swamps in the eastern part of the state. (Read about earlier trips to this area in our small inflatable boat here.) Saturday evening we stopped in Elizabeth City to look around the town and stretch our legs. It was prom night, and girls in prom dresses, guys in tuxedos and lots of people with cameras were gathered in the small park next to the waterfront. I fit right in to the crowd with my camera, but I was the only one taking pictures of old buildings.

 I felt a twinge of nostalgia as I watched these young people, all dressed up for their big night ahead, but a twinge of hunger made me wonder if there was a good place to eat nearby. The evening sunlight was lovely on the docks and boats. I took a few more pictures and then we walked back to the car.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Norfolk and Western Railway Station - Town of Shenandoah, Virginia 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Geese along the Shenandoah River - Page County, Virginia 

Week before last I drove across the mountain and spent a Sunday afternoon in the Shenandoah Valley. My first stop was the Town of Shenandoah on the South Fork of the Shenandoah river about 25 miles south of Luray. I stopped at the town's River Park to take a few pictures and met a small gaggle of geese on the path along the river.

These are domestic geese (someone correct me if I am wrong) but there were also several Canada Geese mixed in.  Most geese mate for life, so I took pictures of what I took to be happy couples, enjoying a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

C&O Locomotive 614 - Goshen, Virginia 

Saturday I  made a day trip to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia. Clifton Forge is in the mountains of western Virginia, not too far from the West Virginia border. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad has a long history dating from the earliest days of railroads in America, and Clifton Forge was a major maintenance facility for C&O steam locomotives up until the early 1950s when steam was phased out. During it's heyday, the railroad employed nearly 2000 people in Clifton Forge.

During my visit, I learned that C&O steam locomotive 614 was en-route from the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia and was due to arrive later in the day to be displayed at the Railway Heritage Center in time for the Allegheny Railroad Heritage Festival on May 14th. Locomotive 614 is a 4-8-4 J class locomotive that was built for the C&O at the Lima Locomotive Works in 1948. It is believed to be the last 4-8-4 steam locomotive built in America.

As the day wore on, updates on the progress of 614, which was being towed by a diesel locomotive, put the arrival time later and later, so I decided to head back toward home along the train's route hoping to meet up with it along the way. Around 5:00, I arrived in the town of Goshen, Virginia and joined a small group of rail-fans who were waiting for the 614 to pass through. A little after 6:30, we heard the diesel's whistle, the crossing guards went down and the massive steam locomotive swept by on its way to Clifton Forge. It was all over in less than a minute. One of the men standing by the tracks said, "It makes me feel like a kid again." I knew just what he meant.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring rain #5 - Brown's Cove, Virginia 

All of the pictures in this week's "spring rain" series were taken on the afternoon of April 22, 2011, along a twenty mile stretch of Virginia route 810 between Dyke and Crozet. The road runs right along the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It rained most of the afternoon, but the soft light and rain brought out the fresh colors of this wet spring day.

Next week, we will have some photographs taken on the other side of the mountains, in the Shenandoah Valley. I hope you will stop by for a visit. Thanks.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Falling blossoms and new leaves 

Redbuds (cercis canadensis) are a native understory tree here in Virginia and bloom very early in the spring. By the time the dogwoods are in full bloom the redbud blossoms are about gone. A few days ago the last of the bright magenta blossoms were still on the redbud trees as the new green leaves began to unfold. The transition was lovely in the late afternoon sun.