Monday, November 30, 2015


Shenandoah National Park

Low clouds hung over the mountains one morning last week. A light rain fell as I walked through the woods in the fog. On the soggy ground, I moved along silent as an Indian, enjoying the quiet and the mountain landscape that materialized ahead of me, and disappeared into the fog behind.

Fog pictures this week--join me. At least you won't get wet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving - 2015

Shenandoah National Park 

It was my intention to write a long and crabby post about how Thanksgiving is being overwhelmed by the commercialization of Christmas, which begins before Halloween, and that odious consumer orgy known as Black Friday. But I will spare you all that. Old men complaining about change is nothing new, and nobody wants to hear it.

So let me just wish you a peaceful and enjoyable time with family and friends.

I have written about Thanksgiving when I was in a better frame of mind, and you might enjoy these stories from the past.

A brief fable about the importance of being thankful

A turkey hunt in the mountains of southwest Virginia nearly forty years ago

Remembering my dad on Thanksgiving morning

Thanks for reading Photography In Place. We will be taking a short break for Thanksgiving and will be back on Monday,November 30.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

All Aboard!

Frostburg, Maryland 

Passengers make their way back to the train after visiting Frostburg. It is a perfect autumn day and I am looking forward to the trip back down the mountains to Cumberland. I just had time for a few more shots before boarding the train and finding my seat.

I took this picture from the window of the coach just before departing Frostburg. It is the only "scenic" picture I took on the trip, but the views from the train were lovely as we made our way through the mountains and valleys, glowing in the October sunlight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Turning Around

Frostburg, Maryland

To prepare for the return to Cumberland, Frostburg's depot is equipped with a turntable and a passing track so that engines can be turned, run around the train and re-couple to the other end. While this is going on, the train crew goes through the coaches turning the seats to face the new forward direction.

Since this excursion was powered by two diesel locomotives coupled end-to-end, there was no need to turn the locomotives and the turntable was used as a switch. In the picture above, the locomotives have been un-coupled from the train and the conductor is supervising as the engines pull on to the turntable to rotate a couple of feet into alignment with the passing track.

After the locomotives move over the passing track to the other end of the train, the brakeman guides the engineer into the coupling, connects the hoses and the train is ready for the return trip. The last car of the train coming into Frostburg is now the first car behind the engines.

 With locomotive 501 now in the lead, the train heads down the tracks toward Cumberland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

Frostburg, Maryland 

The next day after my visit to Antietam last month I decided, somewhat on the spur of the moment, to drive up to Cumberland, home of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. My plan was to photograph the train leaving Cumberland and chase it up to Frostburg, getting what pictures I could along the way. When I arrived at the station, I decided to ride the train instead. There were seats available and I bought a ticket, scrambled out on the platform and boarded the train.

Pulled by two EMD GP30 diesel locomotives, the trip up through the western Maryland mountains took about an hour and we arrived in Frostburg around lunch time. I spent most of the 90 minute layover in Frostburg taking pictures but managed to grab a bite to eat before the return trip. More to come.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Third Sunday - November, 2015

Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland 

Dunker Church - 1852

On Sunday, September 14, 1862, three days before the Battle of Antietam, members of the German Baptist Brethren attending services in the Dunker Church could hear the ominous thunder of artillery from the Battle of South Mountain seven miles to the east. The congregation, known as Dunkers because they practiced immersion baptism, were a quiet, pacifist people, but their church was to become a focal point in the bloodiest battle in United States history. The church was damaged by both Union and Confederate artillery and musket fire, but remained standing until 1921, when a storm flattened the neglected building. In 1962, the church was reconstructed on its original foundation using much of the original material.

Dunker Church - Alexander Gardner (Library of Congress)

Two days after the Battle of Antietam, Alexander Gardner recorded Confederate dead in front of Dunker Church. After the battle the church was used as a field hospital.

Dunker Church - Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland

On the Sunday before the battle, congregants must have glanced uneasily to the east through this window as distant artillery sounded over the reading of the Bible.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Antietam: A lonely place to die

Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland 

"Near Sharpsburg. Sept 17th 1862. On the field, Dear Mother. It is a misty moisty morning. We are engaging the enemy and are drawn up in support of Hooker who is banging away most briskly. I write in the saddle to send you my love and to say that I am very well so far. — Dearest mother, I am wounded so as to be helpless. Good bye if so it must be I think I die in victory . . . Our troops have left the part of the field where I lay — Mother, yrs Wilder All is well with those that have faith"
Letter from Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth A. Dwight, 17 September 1862 - Massachusetts Historical Society

 Killed at the Battle of Antietam - Alexander Gardner (Library of Congress)

"Battle oh horrid battle. What sights I have seen now see around me. I am Wounded! And am afraid shall be again as shells fly past me every few seconds carrying away limbs from trees and scattering limbs about. Am in severe pain. Furies how the shells fly. I do sincerely hope shall not be wounded again. We drove them first till they got sheltered then we had a bad place. Oh I cannot write."
 Sqt Jonathan Stowe, 15th Massachusetts Invantry, 2nd Corps - Diary entry, September 17, 1862, CWTI Collection, USAMHI

Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland 

 "The corn and trees, so fresh and green in the morning, were reddened with blood and torn by bullet and shell, and the very earth was furrowed by the incessant impact of lead and iron."
Francis Palfrey, 20th Massachusetts - A Diary of Battle - De Capo Press, 1998

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Antietam: Silent Guns

Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland 

Scattered guns kept the silence as I walked the battlefield on a sunny October afternoon, and I tried to imagine the noise and chaos of that September day in 1862 as the battle raged over the rolling Maryland farmland.

"'The roar of the infantry was beyond anything conceivable to the uninitiated,' General Williams told his family. 'If all the stone and brick houses of Broadway should tumble at once the roar and rattle could hardly be greater, and amidst this, hundreds of pieces of artillery, right and left, were thundering as a sort of bass to to the infernal music.' The cannon could be heard as far away as Hagerstown, sounding like the muttered rumble of a summer storm on the horizon."*

*from Landscape Turned Red, by Stephen W. Sears (Houghton Mifflin, 1983)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Antietam: Joseph Poffenberger Farm

Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland 

On the evening of September 16, 1862, Union soldiers bivouacked in the fields around the farmhouse of Joseph Poffenberger. It rained during the night, and in dreary camps all over the battlefield men tried to rest before the battle that would commence at daybreak.

It was a night "so dark, so obscure, so mysterious, so uncertain; with the occasional rapid  volleys of pickets and outposts, the low, solemn sound of the command as troops came into position, and withal so sleepy that there was a half-dreamy sensation about it all . . ."*

Officers spent the night before the battle in the Poffenberger's barn.

*Letter from Union soldier quoted in Landscape Turned Red by Stephen W. Sears (Houghton Mifflin, 1983)

Monday, November 9, 2015


Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland 

Last month I visited Antietam National Battlefield and spent an entire day there photographing the battlefield. Starting tomorrow, I will be sharing some of the pictures taken at Antietam.

The battle that took place on September 17, 1862 around Antietam Creek was the bloodiest single day of fighting in American history, with 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers killed, wounded or missing. It was a battle that many in the North hoped would destroy Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and bring an end to the conflict. But at the end of the day, the lines of battle were much as they were at the beginning, and neither side won any significant strategic advantage. Late the next day, Lee's army forded the Potomac River and returned to Virginia.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015