Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Gordonsville Receiving Hospital

Gordonsville, Virginia 

The Exchange Hotel, built in 1860 alongside the tracks of the Virginia Central Railroad, served travelers stopping in Gordonsville. The railroads would play an important role in the upcoming Civil War, and Gordonsville was a key rail center where the Orange and Alexandria and the Virginia Central railroads intersected.

In 1862 the Exchange Hotel was taken over by the military to use as a hospital. Wounded soldiers arrived by train and were treated in what became known as the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital. During the course of the war, over 70,000 soldiers, mostly Confederate but some Union as well, were treated at the hospital. Over 700 died and were buried on the grounds. After the war, the remains of the Confederate dead were moved to the nearby Maplewood Cemetery and re interred in unmarked graves. Twenty-six Union soldiers who died in Gordonsville were moved the the Culpeper National Cemetery in Culpeper, Virginia.

Today the Exchange Hotel is a museum, with an extensive collection of artifacts which tell the story of the Exchange Hotel, the railroad town of Gordonsville and the difficult years of the Civil War.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rodney, Mississippi

Jefferson County, Mississippi - April 2013 

I believe the building in the photo above, and the store with the gas pumps and Coca-Cola sign on the far left of the 1940 photo below are one and the same. If so, I was standing in the crossroad of the 1940 picture, looking down the road that runs to the left. The only building standing today, is the store.

August 1940 - photograph by Marion Post Wolcott - Library of Congress

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rodney - Forsaken by the Mississippi River

Jefferson County, Mississippi 

During the 1840s and 1850s, the town of Rodney was the busiest port on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and St. Louis. With over 1000 permanent residents, Rodney boasted 35 stores, a grand hotel for visiting travelers, two banks and Mississippi's first opera house.

After the Mississippi River changed its course and left Rodney inland some three miles, the town began a slow decline. Today, although there are still a couple of residents, the town consists of abandoned and boarded up buildings and empty lots where houses and businesses once stood.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Third Sunday - July, 2013

Claiborne County, Mississippi 

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church - 1868

Considered the most outstanding of the few remaining Carpenter Gothic buildings in Mississippi, the Sacred Heart Church was built in the town of Rodney in 1868. The church is a wood-frame, board and batten three bay structure with lancet windows and features a central tower with wooden pinnacles and crenelation. The interior walls are plaster, with a wood floor and ceiling. Services were discontinued in 1957.

Around 1870, the Mississippi River began to change its course, and soon the once busy port of Rodney found itself inland some three miles from the river. Years of decline followed, and the town's population dwindled. The abandoned church building was moved from Rodney to Grand Gulf Military Park in 1983. The restored church is open to the public.

By 1940, when Marion Post Wolcott took this picture of the church in its original location, Rodney was well on its way to becoming a ghost town. (Library of Congress)

The interior of the church around 1900. It looks much the same in 2013.

 Grand Gulf Military Park, Port Gibson, Mississippi - 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Potomac River #2 - The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay

Charles County, Maryland 

The story of Mallows Bay is long and complicated. It begins in 1917 as the United States prepares to enter World War I. There was a tremendous demand for ships, and a scheme was put forth to construct a fleet of wooden steamships for shipping service. The wooden ships would be cheap, quick to build and free up shipyards to build steel naval vessels. By the end of the war, only 134 of the planned 1000 wooden vessels had been launched. The ships continued to be built after the war and by September, 1919, 264 wooden steamships were complete.

The wooden ships, built to a standard design were 240 to 300 feet long.

By the end of 1920, the government had decided to dispose of this fleet of obsolete and poorly constructed ships, and after several largely unsuccessful salvage attempts, the fleet ended up scuttled in the Potomac River at Mallows Bay. The remains are visible to this day. To read the whole story of The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay click here

We anchored just north of Mallows Bay and walked along the shore to where the ships lie. Over the years the bay has become rich habitat for wildlife—the rotting hulks forming a sort of artificial reef. We saw herons, ospreys and an eagle as we approached the ghost fleet.

Notice the osprey at the far left on what must be the lowest osprey nest I have ever seen. There is also a fishing boat in the shadow of the hull in the distance.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Potomac River #1

Fairview Beach, Virginia 

Last week I had the opportunity to spend three days on the Potomac River. We left Saturday morning with the intention of going down to the lower river near where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. but some engine problems prevented us from attempting such a long trip. Sunday afternoon found us at Fairview Beach, which is as far down river as we went. That evening storm clouds formed in the west and the sky and clouds were very dramatic for a while. Luckily, we caught only the edge of the storm as it passed just to the north of us, and we enjoyed a quiet night at anchor off Fairview.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Farm building

Lincoln County, Mississippi 

This old farm building is located well out in the country southeast of Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. The air was still that early May afternoon, and the sky promised rain even though the sun was still breaking through.


This past week I spent a couple of days on the Potomac River and will have some pictures from that trip next week. Hope you will join us. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Georgia Lighthouse

Dade County, Georgia

On the way home from Mississippi in May, we spent the night in Trenton Georgia. In the morning, I took the camera and went for a walk. Along the way, I came across this lighthouse in the front yard of a house nearby. Notice the small lighthouse on the ground to the left. I assume the owners are lighthouse aficionados—even so  this is an unusually elaborate lawn ornament. It looks like the light might actually work, but it is a long way from northwest Georgia to the ocean.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rabbit at rest

Greene County, Virginia

Saw this rabbit stretched out in our front yard the other evening. He seemed content but I was a bit surprised that he was so relaxed out in the open.

Have a nice weekend and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

And, by the way, Rabbit At Rest is the name of the last of four novels by John Updike about the life of Harry Angstrom, whose nickname is "Rabbit". Good summer reading—start with Rabbit Run, the first book in the series.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013


McComb, Mississippi

I thought about Carl Weese when I came across this fireplug in McComb. Carl has photographed dozens of fireplugs and posts them from time to time over on Working Pictures (see a selection of Carl's photos here).

Fireplugs, or fire hydrants if you prefer, are interesting in their variety of shapes and in the way they fit into different streetscapes. This fireplug is a bit unusual in that it is painted white—red and yellow are by far the most common colors. Not sure what the blue line on the sidewalk signifies.