Staying Happy in the Passenger Seat and at the Dinner Table

Dawes Arboretum: Cabin Path

This is actually a state park, but it’s also one of the only snowy road photos I have. Bonus: Not one bit of traffic!

 

All week long I’ve been hearing about the high numbers of Americans expected to travel for Christmas (despite the winter storm being predicted—so far as that goes, most of us will believe it when we see it!). Where, oh where, are the transporters we were promised so long ago? Surely someone is working on them, but in the meantime, it seems the majority of America’s Christmas travellers will be hopping into the car and, most likely, hitting the interstate.

As you probably expect, my suggestion to those of you about to travel for Christmas is to avoid the interstate, which everyone will admit is duller than dirt—particularly for passengers (at least the driver will be occupied with the driving). Driving along old state highways and US routes usually doesn’t take much longer than the interstate, and they’re certainly more engaging than the interstate. Continue reading

Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Arney Run Park, Early Autumn

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park

That may be my longest post title yet, but that’s barely half the name of of this pretty covered bridge—”The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Oil Mill Hollow Over Arney Run Near Borcher’s Mill”! That means this bridge has the longest name of any covered bridge in the nation, something I was unaware of when photographing the structure.

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park

Built by Jacob Brandt in 1887, the bridge is 51 feet long and stands on its original sandstone abutments. Part of one of Fairfield County’s historic parks, crosses Arney Mill Run in Lancaster; the “Oil Mink Hollow” part comes from the days when a flaxseed-pressing mill stood nearby.

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park: Bent Nail

The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge et cetera, et cetera, et cetera boasts of not just a long name, but also an unusual structure—if I understand correctly, its central X-brace, combined with multiple Kingpost through truss, are unique to the Buckeye State. This is one of eighteen (or sixteen; there seems to be disagreement) covered bridges in Fairfield County—eighteen remaining of the county’s original two hundred and twenty! Indeed, Fairfield County can still boast of having more covered bridges than any other county in Ohio.

There are reports that the bridge is illuminated at night—I may have to go back for that after a really good snow despite the cold. Wouldn’t those make lovely photos?

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park

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Riverview Florist, Alone

Riverview Florist. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

Riverview Florist door. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

In a now-quiet Ohio Valley steel town—right around the corner from the famously abandoned car dealership—stands a building so grand for its purpose, it’s difficult to believe it was simply a greenhouse and florist. The English Tudor-style building is so very handsome it seems to have been plucked from one of Britain’s verdant fields and plunked in the centre of fields of concrete instead; that it is flanked by massive, overgrown greenhouses made it an even more outstanding sight.

Riverview Florist. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

Riverview Florist. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

This is not the original Riverview florist and greenhouse headquarters (nor the last); that caught fire in 1935. The Tudor edifice in my photographs was designed by East Liverpool architect Robert Beatty, with the admonition he include pieces of the old greenhouse building—specifically, charred beams rescued from the ashes of the original. These Beatty integrated into the French doors leading to the greenhouses. Presumably, there they remain, future success built, as it nearly always is, on the success of the past.

Riverview Florist. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

Riverview Florist. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

You’re probably thinking this enterprise must have been at least a little successful for such an impressive structure to serve a florist & greenhouse during the Great Depression, and you’re right. It’s such a marvellous story, too!

Riverview Florist. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images.

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Monday Escape: Handsome Ohio Valley Sewing Shop

Centenary House

One of many little independent places along America’s back roads, nothing could be learned about Centenary House Sewing Center online; moreover, as every seamstress knows, entering such places can be terribly dangerous to one’s budget, so I avoided walking in. Budgetary concerns never stop me from capturing a handsome building when there’s room to pull over, though, and despite being on the far end of the road’s mountain-enforced curve, I could not resist this sewing shop! There’s a close-up of the sewing machine-topped sign after the cut. Continue reading

Monday Escape: Red Brick Tavern in Lafayette

Red Brick and Windows

Reported to be Ohio’s second-oldest stagecoach stop (oh, just the thought of stagecoaches is exciting, isn’t it?), The Red Brick Tavern of Lafayette, Ohio has stood on National Road in one form or another since 1836. Being on a bit of a mission, I was unable to stop for more detailed photographs, but will no doubt happen by the Tavern again at some point.

There’s a paucity of information about the Tavern online, but I did find a few tidbits, among them the facts that the red brick for which the tavern is named was made of clay taken from a nearby field, and the wood trim and floors inside are nearly all from Zanesville, Ohio. Unfortunately, the timing was not quite right; railroads were beginning to gain traction with travellers, and the Red Brick Tavern closed to the public in 1859, becoming a private residence. Happily, the advent of automobiles created more demand for such accommodations, and the Tavern reopened in 1924.

Red Brick Tavern, U.S. Route 40, Lafayette, Madison County, OH HABS OHIO,49-LAFA,1-1
Based on the cars, I’d say this photo dates to the mid-1930s. Photograph by the Historic American Buildings Survey. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, OHIO,49-LAFA,1-1, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As you probably expect, the main floor consists of the dining room, bar, and kitchen (the bar has been gone since 1929, and you surely know why); the twelve rooms used by guests were upstairs. Travel was not exactly glamourous in the early days, however exciting—travellers often shared their bed with strangers in such establishments through the late 1800s, because that’s how it was done, especially in what was then the semi-frontier of Ohio. However, I doubt any of the six presidents who visited the Red Brick Tavern—John Quincey Adams, John Tyler, Warren G. Harding, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor—had to share their room. Each president who visited the Tavern has had a steak dinner named for him, though I don’t know if there’s a Tippecanoe Banana Split with which to follow up your William Henry Harrison or John Tyler steak. Continue reading

Small Town, Saved—By Individuals

Red Cloud Farmer's and Merchant's Bank from NW

Red Cloud Farmer’s & Merchant’s Bank. By Ammodramus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a terrific and encouraging article over at the PreservationNation Blog about the preservation of author Willa Cather’s Nebraska hometown of Red Cloud. How was Red Cloud preserved? Why, by the actions of individuals, of course! That’s probably my favourite part of the story—it wasn’t eminent domain, it wasn’t anything overbearing, it was simply someone who learned about and became interested in Cather who decided to do what she could to save the writer’s home town.

The woman in question is Mildred Bennett, who found herself teaching the descendants of those written about by Cather—and then moved to Red Cloud itself, a perfect opportunity for Bennett to learn more about the Pulitzer Prize winner, to the point that she published The World of Willa Cather (afil) in 1951. But that was not enough for Mildred.

Willa Cather house from NE 1

Willa Cather’s childhood home, By Ammodramus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Realizing the town’s potential, Bennett gathered a group of friends around her kitchen table — her “kitchen cabinet” — and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation was born. When it incorporated in 1955, eight participants kicked in $20 each, most of which went to pay for the notice of incorporation in the newspaper. Bennett was named president, a post she held on and off until her death in 1989. And with donations, grants, and grit, the foundation began preserving the structures that inform Cather’s work. (via)

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The Original Perkins Observatory in Delaware

Wesleyan University Student Observatory

No doubt we’ve all experienced the following: Having lived in or even often travelled through a place for years, we learn about something wonderful or intriguing we had no idea existed. This is more surprising (and galling, for a documentary photographer) when we have driven right by something many, many times, never knowing what we were missing. Such was the case for me with this, the former Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Wesleyan Student Observatory

Wander in to photograph an observatory, photograph the doorknob instead.

In my defense, the observatory sits on a hill high above the road (it’s not far from the darling octagonal filling station in Delaware), and I don’t remember how we learned of its existence, but after stopping at my favourite local nursery, we stopped in to take a peek. Continue reading