The old saying, “You can take the person out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the person” applies to me and my camera, most of the times I travel locally in search of interesting photo compositions. It’s even better when what I see has a bit of history involved.
Category Archives: America’s Past
Axton is a special place, for me, because I love making photographs of locations that today are far from what they once were. This very small town is located along the state line with North Carolina, near Martinsville, Virginia. Today there is an elementary school there which is part of the Henry County School System, a Fire and Rescue Station, some retail convenience stores, a few old buildings-some occupied and some not, and many small farms. The old water tower there definitely caught my eye.
Once, a train line passed through and stopped at this station. I walked around it, thinking about what it was like when a train approached on rails now gone.
There was a furniture store here at one time, now empty, and a Post Office building that to me looks like an old bank. It’s now being used to sell various items.
Lastly, the farming nature of the area is easy to spot by some vacant farm homes, barns and other structures.
Like I wrote earlier, Axton is a special place for me … and my camera.
My wife Barb is a very good “Quilter” and she has close friends here in SW Virginia who are equally so, or better. They each truly love what they do, and spend a good bit of time doing it together. A few days ago, I drove Barb to her quilting friend Patsy’s country home, to deliver an item she had made to be “machine quilted” on Patsy’s large frame machine. I was excited to go along because I wanted to see and photograph Patsy’s century-old family home. The brick style is classic, and it’s in very good condition. There were outside aspects of the home that caught my eye. Such as …
After I went inside, and after Patsy kindly said I could go look at whatever I wanted, I wandered about being most attracted to the warm wooden textures, especially on the well-worn stairs. The stained glass window in the front door was also interesting. It’s not an original, but looks like it.
I also walked around outside, making photos of her apple trees and the grape arbor, noting that birds and bees were thoroughly enjoying themselves on the fruit. Patsy also has a vegetable garden, and before we left she took me into her “root cellar” to show me all that she has preserved for later use. She offered me a couple of mason jars full of goodies, which I happily accepted.
Three hours after we arrived, we drove home having just experienced the true hospitality of a “SW Virginian” … folks we are so very happy to be close to.
I’m a sucker for being first in line to visit any old General Store. Anywhere. We’re fortunate to live close to many still operating in the mountain regions of Virginia and North Carolina. My favorite is located in Valle Crucis, NC near Boone. Mast General Store has so much to see you need at least an hour, and even then you will feel like going around again to find that “special treasure” just waiting for you. In that regard, there’s lots to make you get your credit card out, or your cash, whichever. As far as photo opportunities are concerned … well, just take a look at what I saw recently.
Martinsville, Virginia is my home. While I live just outside the city limits, I consider myself a resident, because I spend so much time there with my camera. I have seen the city in ways many people do not. At one time not too long ago, Martinsville was a primary “economic engine” for the Commonwealth. Today, not so much because of major changes in how America obtains manufactured goods, such as textiles and furniture…overseas versus local. But, this is another story. Here, I want to show you what I saw recently while “looking up” in Martinsville. More importantly, I’m convinced that the economic future of the city is also, “looking up.” Lots in that regard is ongoing, but again that’s another story. Now for the photos. PS: Others who live here might want to guess where the photo subjects are located.
I recently returned from a two-day visit to Maggie Valley, NC with our daughter and her husband, who are buying a mountain home there. Beautiful place there. I made some nice images that I want to share. The mountains of Virginia and North Carolina are my absolute favorite place to go. Thank you Lord!
Before the arrival of railroads in the Dan River Valley region of SW Virginia, goods were transported to city and town markets via flat-bottomed boats. By the late 19th Century, railroads had taken over that purpose. A rail line was completed from Danville to Stuart in 1884 and passed through Martinsville. The “Danville and Western Railroad” was nicknamed the “Dick and Willie” by local residents and while train traffic was discontinued years ago, the roadbed of the line has been converted into a multi-purpose recreational trail as it passes through Martinsville. The 4.5 mile long trail is used today by thousands annually, and the name Dick and Willie remains affectionally in the hearts of many. Recently, I took a early morning walk along the trail, and was rewarded not only by the exercise I had, but by the beauty of wildflowers and greenery all along the route. Kudos to local government planners and officials for making this all possible.
As I was walking down a street in Eden, NC I noticed that to the rear of a large brick house now a realtor’s office, there was a smaller brick structure that I wanted to see more of. So, I walked to it, looked inside an open door and saw this.
Looking closer I wondered what it’s purpose had been, since it was obviously no longer in use. There were marble steps around the lower perimeter of the opening, as well as pipes and shelves holding a few small pots.
I concluded the small space was once a “potting shed” that might also have served as a winter season “greenhouse” complete with watering capability. Whatever it was, it definitely caught my eye, and made me thankful for being able to record with my camera what I saw.
A Weather Vane is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. They are typically used as an architectural ornament located at the highest point of a building. I found two at the top of buildings in Martinsville, Virginia. The first is at the top of the historic “Gray Lady” house and the second sits at the top of the city’s Post Office. Both looked better to me in black and white.