I just returned from a visit to Western North Carolina, visiting family and making photos of various aspects of the scenic Smoky Mountain region. I think it’s important to note that there is lots more to be seen there than just “mountains”, especially when you visit small towns and marvel at the interesting and beautiful architecture therein.
I’m thankful living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where in an hour’s drive I can be standing where I made this photo. If you’re wondering why they are called “Blue Ridge” mountains this image might help. It’s all about the haze on the horizon, some natural some manmade. Today, I’m just a “looker”a short walk away from my car parked off the road, with camera in hand, clicking away. But, there was a time still fresh in my memory when I’d park my car, toss a daypack on and head right down the middle of this location, following marked trails, to experience the joy of discovery. In these high mountains above 3000 feet, hidden in hollows, there is remarkably well preserved evidence left by those hearty folk who once lived in the wilderness.
I’d like to say I hiked to this rustic old cabin on a hillside but I didn’t. I spotted it in the woods as I was driving along a narrow mountain road. But, it fits my story, so bear with me. When I discover places like this, either on foot or via car, I always take a few minutes to wonder who lived there and when. I can easily visualize a hound dog barking at me if I wandered too close. I can see an old woman sitting in the open front door waving at me to come share a cup of coffee, or a biscuit left over from breakfast. It’s easy to get caught up with these type thoughts. In today’s world, many of our poorest city folk live better than did those in remote Blue Ridge Mountain valleys. Every day back then must have been a struggle. Hunting game from sunrise to sunset, miles away from home. Finding and gathering scarce wild edible plants. Carrying water from nearby streams, and chopping seemingly endless amounts of firewood. So, when I find a place like this I’m thankful for the many blessings we have today. Still, it would have been an experience I’d love to have had, living in the wilderness back then. Actually, via books I read every day, and through the lens of my camera, I do live that way … in my mind. That’s pretty special.
I’ve written before and I’ll do it again, living where we do in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in SW Virginia, often provides a look back into time, at how people once lived. I was recently exploring on a road trip near our home and I found for the first time a small, log-crib building. Looking up close I wondered about the ladder on the front. Perhaps it allowed for access at the top of the crib.
As I wandered around some more, I saw a small pond across the nearby winding road, and went to investigate. I’m sure many fish have been caught here, and I could hear in my mind the joyful sounds made by people jumping into and swimming it its cool waters during hot summer months long ago.
My discovery brought me great happiness that day. I hope my photos have the same effect on you.
I made this photo a few days ago, and it represents a specific photo subject I enjoy very much: rustic building windows and doors. It’s the wooden texture, reflections in the old glass, peeling paint, and thoughts about what sort of things lie behind, that get to me … every time. While I was making this photo, an old man came driving onto the property I was on, illegally I might add because there were “No Trespassing” signs in view. However, a metal farm gate was open, and I’d been to this old house several times before. I figured better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Anyway, the man was a farm hand, carrying items out from behind the house. I explained what I was doing and he welcomed me to stay as long as I liked. Maybe it was my rural SW Virginia accent that did the trick, or the US Coast Guard hat I was wearing. We chatted a bit about the old home, which he said was built in the 1870s, and had been enlarged over the years. He said folks had lived there well into the 20th Century. It was indeed rustic. The foothills of the Blue Ridge where we live sure do have character. Like this rustic old house, and the nice old man I ran into that day.
When I see just about anything associated with “railroads” I get an urge to stop and make photos, usually beginning with one such as that above or the one below.
But once in awhile I’ll spot something different such as this now unused Railroad Fire House Shed.
So, I explored the shed inside and out, and here’s what I saw. Enjoy a look back in time.
Martinsville, Virginia has some significant history associated with it. For example, it once was a central hub for America’s furniture and textile industry; Bassett, Stanley, Hooker, American and more. Today, manufacturing has moved on just as it has throughout the nation, sadly. However, what remains are many interesting sights to see and photograph. Recreational activities are thriving here now. Hiking, biking, water sports and much more. We love living here. Visit sometime if you will. In the meantime, enjoy these images.
We don’t see many new things designed this way anymore, but that’s fine with me because there are lots of “old” just waiting for me and my camera.
I really enjoy finding old farm buildings, especially those of “log type” construction. Some old structures remain in use today. Here are some examples of how different farming once was. I’m glad some of that history remains in plain view today.
As I drive around narrow back roads in SW Virginia and adjacent rural North Carolina, I often find what I’ll call photo treasures from the past. When one of them has something of special interest to my wife (like the Barn Quilt in the last image) I’m happier than I would have been otherwise, because I love sharing these sorts of “photo gifts” with her and others.
I’ve visited this SW Virginia historic General Store before. I keep going back because while the store is no longer operating as such, it’s owner has done a great job maintaining it, and that’s what makes my camera, and me, happy.