Friday, May 31, 2013

Grand Gulf Military Park - Scotia

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

In 1768 Thomas Foster built this "dog-trot" house with an open hall flanked by one room on each side. Later the second story rooms were added for the family to live in, and the downstairs became stage-stop accommodations for travelers. The hand-hewn heart pine logs are assembled with wooden pegs and dovetails; no nails were used. The house was moved log by log from its original location in the community of Scotia, Franklin County, Mississippi and came to the park in 1976.

Looking through the door of one of the downstairs rooms, across the "dog trot" into the room on the other side.

Thanks for reading Photography In Place. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grand Gulf - The old town

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

By the end of the 1830s, Grand Gulf was the third largest town in Mississippi. As many as twenty steamboats a day stopped at Grand Gulf and the town boasted a hospital, a theater and numerous retail stores in a commercial district of over seventy blocks.  A series of disasters struck the town beginning in 1843 with a devastating yellow fever epidemic. By the time of the Civil War, Grand Gulf was a ghost of its former self, with just 150 inhabitants.

Two important military battles were fought here, one in 1862 and one in 1863

Abandoned church in Grand Gulf

I will have more to say about Grand  Gulf when we visit Rodney, another deserted river town. The story of Rodney and Grand Gulf have several interesting features in common, and the fate of both towns was sealed by the fickle Mississippi River.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day - 2013

Vicksburg, Mississippi 

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 - July 4, 1863).

Five thousand confederate soldiers, many of whom gave their life during the fierce fighting at Vicksburg in the struggle to control the Mississippi River, are buried here. This monument to their sacrifice stands among the graves at Soldiers' Rest, which is part of the Vicksburg City Cemetery, know as Cedar Hill.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Morning - Cicadas

Greene County, Virginia

The birds were in an uproar around here last week. I stood in the yard under the trees Tuesday around dusk  and wondered what all the fuss was about. A cat maybe, or a snake. Agitated birds flew in and out of the branches overhead. The plaintive meow of a catbird came from somewhere along the fence. It was a pleasant spring evening and I could see nothing to threaten what should have been a peaceful settling into night.

The cicadas also came out last week. An indistinct buzz at first, like a distant alarm, but by the middle of the week the noise was nearly overbearing. Birds enact their ritual of nest and egg and chicks each spring, but cicadas experience the joy of spring renewal but once every 17 years. They celebrate with a loud and continuous unison chorus, presumably to make up for lost springs.

Perhaps the unrelenting and monotonous song of the cicada is what put the birds on edge.  Seventeen years is a long time, and the birds heard the cicada song for the first time in their short life. I remember the cicadas of 17 years ago, and it is not impossible to think I might hear them again 17 years hence. Their noise puts me a bit on edge too.

Last night the cicadas and the birds were quiet. I suspect the cool weather on Friday is responsible for the cicadas' silence but maybe their song is done, and another 17 years of cicada silence is beginning.  In the meantime, my aging refrigerator has started to make a chirping sound rather like the song of a cicada; it will need to be replaced before long. Life goes on.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flowers from the garden

Greene County, Virginia 

I have recently been interested in still life photography and have been trying to learn a bit about it. In my mind, I can see the results that I want, but I am not sure how to get there.

My wife's arrangement of mixed garden and wild flowers caught my eye the other day and I did a simple set-up and took a few pictures mostly to figure out how to make the light work. The result is more like a product shot for a florist catalog than a still life, but I learned a few things. A step along the way.

For those of you that are looking forward to a long Memorial Day weekend, be safe and enjoy. Thanks for reading Photography In Place—hope you will be back for a visit next week

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Greene County, Virginia 

Like most everything else around here, the azaleas are a bit late blooming this year. Yesterday was summer-like, hot and a bit muggy. Even though summer does not officially start for a few more weeks, Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off summer here in central Virginia. The azaleas in our back yard are about bloomed out, but I found these azaleas blooming in the shade of a red-bud tree, a spring splash of color in the new summer green.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Windsor Cemetery

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

Just down the road from the Windsor Ruins, there is a small sign indicating the location of the Windsor Cemetery. There is barely room to get off the road, and an overgrown path leads through the woods to an old Indian Burial Mound. On top of the mound, the inhabitants of Windsor and their relatives dating from the very early years of the 19th century are buried. Captain Frisby Freeland, who fought in the Revolutionary War and died in 1826 is buried there, along with the Daniells family who owned Windsor Plantation.

Today, the cemetery is untended and overgrown. The low brick wall that surrounds the cemetery is crumbling and many of the tombstones are deteriorating.

 A deep gully is encroaching on one side of the cemetery and threatens its continued existence. One corner of the cemetery's brick wall has collapsed into the ravine.

A wrought iron gate still guards the entrance, but can bar neither time nor neglect. It seems sad, but somehow fitting that this cemetery, where the hopes and dreams of those who once lived in the doomed Windsor Mansion lie buried, should itself fall into ruin

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Third Sunday - May 2013

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

Bayou Pierre Presbyterian Church - 1807

Following the arrival of Presbyterian missionaries in 1801, Joseph Bullen and James Smylie organized the Bayou Pierre Church at this site in 1807. After part of the congregation formed Bethel Church southwest of here in 1824, the remaining members moved to Port Gibson. The church was renamed First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson in 1828. During the Battle of Port Gibson, fought on May 1, 1863, the 20th Alabama Infantry was posted here, anchoring the right flank of Confederate Brig. General Edward D. Tracy's Brigade.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History
 Roadside marker - 2007

This is a reconstruction of the original log church

Friday, May 17, 2013

Windsor Ruins - The land

Claiborne County, Mississippi

The 2600 acres that was once comprised Windsor Plantation have mostly reverted to a wild state. Nearby, on top of an Indian Burial Mound is the family cemetery, now crumbling and overgrown. Next week, we will make a visit to the Windsor Cemetery. Hope you will join us. (Watch out for the poison ivy.)

Sunday is Third Sunday and we will be visiting a one room, log church that stands not far from the Windsor Ruins.

Hope you have a great weekend, and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Windsor Ruins - Details

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

Windsor was constructed at a cost of 175,000. Bricks for the 29 columns were made in a  kiln near the house. The 45 feet tall columns supported the projecting roof and provided protection for the galleries that surrounded the house at the second and third levels.

The iron Corinthian capitals that topped the columns, along with the iron stairs and ornamental balustrade were manufactured in Saint Louis and shipped down the Mississippi River to the nearby port of Bruinsburg.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Windsor Ruins

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

About 10 miles west of Port Gibson, Mississippi, lies the ruins of Windsor, which was completed in 1861. The owner, Mr Smith Coffee Daniell died just a few weeks after the completion of Windsor at the age of 34. In a couple of years, the Civil War intruded on this serene landscape. Confederates used the house as an observation post, and after the Battle of Port Gibson, the house was used as a Union hospital.

The house survived the war only to be destroyed in 1890 by a dropped cigarette. The resulting fire consumed all but the 29 fluted brick and plaster columns and the elaborate ornamental ironwork. The ruins were placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1971.

This drawing of Windsor was made by a Union soldier just after General Grant landed his forces at Bruinsburg. Grant's ensuing victory at the Battle of Port Gibson led to the eventual fall of Vicksburg, and Union control of the Mississippi River.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day - 2013

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mother-in-law in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Thanks for letting me be part of your family. This lily was transplanted from your mother's yard.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Morning - Overgrown

We have been traveling this spring. When we left in April, the dogwoods were starting to bloom, the redbud trees were illuminated with small red blossoms, and the grass was just starting to come up. After three weeks away, we returned to find we had missed a big part of spring. The dogwood and redbud blooms were gone and lush green had replaced the delicate greens and muted russet of early spring

And the grass was knee-high. Several varieties of weeds had flourished during the three weeks without being mowed, and there were bright wild flowers scattered about the overgrown yard—wild flowers that we normally do not see because they are mowed down before they are able to bloom.

It rained for a couple of days after we got back, but I was finally able to mow at the end of the week and the yard is once again neat. The weeds are gone except for a few bright flowering clumps that I mowed around just to enjoy a while longer. After all, neatness isn't everything.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fairground Street Bridge

Vicksburg, Mississippi

The Fairground Street Bridge, built in 1868, was used as a railroad bridge in Dubuque, Iowa before being moved to Vicksburg in 1895 where it spanned the Illinois Central Rail Yard (now Kansas City Southern). My wife's grandfather worked for the Illinois Central and used to walk across this bridge on his way to work.

The bridge is an example of a Pratt through truss design, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

This picture was taken a few minutes before the one above (the train was backing up) and gives a better view of the bridge in its current condition.

National Park Service photo in the Library of Congress - Public domain.

This 1986 picture shows the Fairground Street Bridge when it was still in use. Several years ago there was interest in moving the bridge about a mile north to the Lower Mississippi River Museum but the cost and brittle condition of the structure has made such a move unlikely. Today, the bridge is quietly deteriorating

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kansas Ciry Southern Freight Yard

Vicksburg, Mississippi 

The last time I visited the KCS yard in Vicksburg was in 2011 during the record Mississippi River flood (click here for more on that). At that time, all of the rolling stock had been removed just in case the flood wall did not prevent the river from inundating the yard. Last week, things were back to normal, and as I walked around and took pictures three locomotives were busy making up cars.

The river is on the rise again this spring and the flood gates protecting the city are once again being closed. Yesterday (Sunday) the river was at 41.3 feet and is expected to reach flood stage (43.0 feet) by May 16th.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Looking ahead

Bude, Mississippi 

I have been doing some traveling this spring. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at pictures from Mississippi: the KCS freight yard in Vicksburg; the small town of Bude; a railroad museum in McComb; the ghost town of Rodney which was abandoned after the Mississippi river changed course, and the remnants of the river town of Grand Gulf, scene of an important Civil War engagement as Union and Confederate forces struggled for control of the Mississippi River.

Hope you will stop by for a visit, and as always, have a safe and enjoyable weekend. Thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gull story

Corolla, North Carolina 

The last morning of my March trip to North Carolina was cold and windy, with a light, intermittent rain falling. It was not much of a morning to be on the beach, but I took the camera and went for a walk among the gulls and the sanderlings.

I am not sure what is going on in these three shots, taken within seconds of one another. At first I thought the birds were fighting, but now I am not so sure. I will leave it to your imagination.