Trains don’t stop here anymore

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I’ve written many times that I love trains and most things associated with them. Especially old depots such as this one in Madison, NC. Trains still use the adjacent tracks, and that’s good. It’s just that they don’t stop here anymore. When I visit such locations I like to imagine what it was like living here during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s in America when passenger and freight trains were the main mode of transportation, and many small cities and towns like Madison were serviced daily. When I was a young boy I recall traveling about on passenger trains with my parents, going from city-to-city. It was exciting, albeit a bit daunting, to have to walk along a passenger and baggage platform that ran in between train depot tracks, where massive locomotives sat waiting to depart. The steam engines hissed and rumbled above me as we walked along. But I began to relax as we boarded our train, with a friendly uniformed Conductor helping me climb the steep steps into our assigned car. I always had a window seat with my face plastered to the glass most of the time, peering out at passing sights. These are memories I’ll never forget. I guess that’s why I like making photos at places like this old depot.

Madison’s Dry Goods Country Store

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We live about fifteen driving minutes away from Madison, NC. The small town of about 2000 is located in the Piedmont Region of Virginia and North Carolina, and its downtown business district is a favorite place for me to visit. Always with my camera. In that regard I offer up Madison’s Dry Goods Country Store.  I love visiting and shopping in stores like this, and believe me I’ve been in many. The unique thing about here is the friendly atmosphere, and quality clothing and other goods sold, at reasonable prices. Here are some photos I made to give you a taste. If you are in Rockingham County NC,  I encourage you to visit Madison, as I did this past week, leaving with a just purchased nice flannel shirt and fleece vest. I’m ready for winter now!

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Farming in the Virginia Mountains

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Farming above 3000 feet can’t be easy. Living in an environment with rocky soils, harsh weather and relative remoteness in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, hearth folk have thrived for hundreds of years. I love driving along ridge lines and through winding valleys, capturing what I see with my cameras. These images were made last month and reflect the unique beauty of it all.

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Exploring in Alaska

I’m no expert by any means when it comes to locations to visit in Alaska. However, I have been there five times since 1999 (most recently last month) and I’ve seen quite a lot of territory via air, sea and land transportation. I’ve traveled on 1-2 week small ship organized tours, organized land tours; and most recently on my own, unencumbered by departure schedules and limited time to devote to any single destination. We simply flew to Anchorage, rented a car and off we went exploring. Here’s a tip if you decide such an option is for you. Definitely drive about an hour north from Anchorage and visit the Historic Independence Gold Mine. I don’t believe it’s on most organized tour itineraries, and that’s what made it so special to me. The photos below are what we saw, spending a leisurely half-day walking around over marked trails, easy and less so. That afternoon we drove up the winding Hatcher Pass road to Summit Lake (another incredible destination not on your typical organized tour). I’ll post photos from there in a future blog post.

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Mountain Market

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It’s the time of year here in SW Virginia when mountain area markets display outside all kinds of produce and other items that tempt visitors to grab their wallets and buy. Like the five-foot high, painted metal roosters above. What I’d do with one is a good question, but it’s still interesting. And no, I didn’t buy one. Fresh-picked peaches, apples and other farm produce fill baskets outside the market. It’s one of my favorite places to visit during the spring, summer and fall seasons. The locally-made, hand-sized Fried Apple Pies sold there are a great treat.

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Rustic Log Cabin

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I found this really neat log cabin in Danbury, NC recently and it was very nice being able to walk around it, making photos from various angles. Whenever I find such structures, my mind begins to ask questions. Such as: when was the last time anyone lived here, who were they, what did they do to make a living, and is there buried treasure nearby (just kidding). I love American history like this. Enjoy seeing what I saw.

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Danbury, NC — Small but Historic

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Danbury, NC was not a location of American Civil War battles but it was, toward the end of the conflict, part of Union forces forays through the state, destroying Confederate facilities that had some relation to sustaining the war. The iron works near the town were one such target, as were rail lines. Today, Danbury is home to some historic and beautiful buildings such as the old Stokes County Courthouse (above-below) and the adjacent Moodys Tavern (third image) which was headquarters for Union Army forces in the area. Part of the old building is now home to a few of the approximate 200 residents of the town, and it still has the “look” of what it once was. The next photo I liked very much, because I was not expecting to find such a building there. It’s a nicely designed small building used by the town’s present day government, and it fits in very well with surrounding facilities. Last, is a small church I found a bit of a walk away from the courthouse. I liked the wooden cross at ground level by the freshly painted white picket fence. Danbury isn’t a place most folks would travel “to”, but mostly “trough.” I’m glad I stopped.

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Historic Wright Tavern

Per North Carolina Historical Marker online research: “The Wright Tavern is a landmark in Rockingham County that has successfully been restored to its nineteenth century condition. Construction on the inn commenced around 1810. The building remained in the Wright-Reid family until it was sold to the Rockingham County Historical Society in 1967. “I’ve visited the site several times, and each time I do I see more than I’d seen before.

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I like to “get close” after making an overview photo, and by so doing I’ve been transported back in time. I especially liked the open “walk through” area between adjacent living areas, with the old stairway to the second floor..

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Details of the historic structure, and out-buildings made me smile. I’m even more pleased when I see the results of volunteers and others renovating rare buildings such as Wright Tavern, and by doing that they bring great credit to the locality involved.

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Appalachian Life

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I’m fortunate to live in the foothills of the scenic Appalachian Mountains … Virginia and North Carolina variety. For this photo presentation I took two original color images I made last month and processed each to give them an “antique” look, as if I was looking at an old film photo taken long ago. As I travel about this region I always look for signs from the past. Such as the railroad line above, and even more so the cabin located on a stream bank below. That photo depicts the true character of the mountains I love to experience.

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