Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - west Mississippi

We will continue on our trip in Mississippi along what is left of the Dixie Overland Highway, now US 80.

The present US 80 crosses the Pearl River south of downtown Jackson and runs north of Interstate 20. West Jackson was a bustling commercial zone in the post-World War II decades. Preservation Mississippi as written about some of the motels and other architecture along this strip. Today, it is a bit (well, very) dingy. The scenery is marred with fast food restaurants, old warehouses, and strip malls that clearly saw better years a long time ago. I recently wrote about the old Metrocenter Mall, which is only partly occupied now (click the link).
KCS tracks view east, Old US 80 near Clinton, Mississippi (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film)
Post Drive, Old US 80 (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film). The fence has been extended and now obscures all of the yard
US 80 runs through Clinton just north of I-20 (near Mississippi College) and then merges with the interstate.  I assume the old route was absorbed by the interstate. But the frontage road south of I-20 west of the Norrell Road exit may be the old Dixie Highway. It winds through woods and past old houses and past farmland.
Old Hwy 80 east of Bolton (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film)
East of Bolton, it is hard to tell how much of Old Hwy 80 is the Dixie Overland and how much is modern frontage road.
Main Street, Bolton (Olympus Trip 35, Tmax 100 film)
Mack's Cafe, Old US 80, Bolton (Kodachrome 25, Leica, 50mm lens)
The first "main" town we reach is Bolton. We have explored Bolton before (click the link). There is not much to see there now.

Former Dodge dealer (no longer extant), Edwards, Mississippi (Yashica Electro 35CC camera, Ilford Delta 100 film)
National Youth Administration gymnasium (formerly for Edwards High School, Edwards, Mississippi
Edwards is the next town on our trip west. Edwards, too, has seen much better and more prosperous days a long time ago. I previously wrote about Edwards in the rain.

Woodman of America hall (no longer extant), Edwards, Mississippi (Kodachrome slide, Leica M3, 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit lens)
A former coworker tried to preserve the Woodman of America building, but the last time I drove through town, all that was left was a concrete slab. 
Shotgun house, 304 Old Hwy 80, Bolton (Olympus E-330 digital camera) 


Former filling station, US 80, west of Edwards (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
A few older shotgun houses remain in Edwards.
Old US 80 west of Edwards, Mississippi (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
Smith Hall, Bonner Campbell Institute, Edwards (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm lens)
Heading west, you pass the grounds of the Bonner Campbell Institute, formerly the Southern Christian Institute. Sadly, most of the historic buildings have been demolished, despite their status on the National Register of Historic Places. I thought the pillared Smith Hall was quite elegant.
Big Black River crossing, Old US 80 (Hasselblad, 50 mm Distagon lens, Fomapan 100 Classic film)
Bridge commemoration (Olympus E-330 digital image)
Proceeding west, old US 80 descends and crosses the Big Black River over the 1929 R.H. Henry Bridge.
US 80 near Bovina, Mississippi (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
The Dixie continues west bypassing most of the town of Bovina. The road is narrow and would be dangerous to bicycle because of a lack of shoulders and the fact that some people drive much too quickly.
Former "Colored Motel" east of Vicksburg (Pentax Spotmatic, 24mm SMC Takumar lens)
Lobby of former "Colored Motel" (Pentax Spotmatic, 24mm SMC Takumar lens)


As the Dixie Overland approached Vicksburg, motels welcomed the weary traveler. One pink and now very overgrown motel just east of Mt. Albans Road formerly had a sign, "Colored Motel." I may have a picture of it somewhere but have not found it yet. It has been unused since the 1980s or earlier. Currently, the building is being engulfed by kudzu.
Pinewood Motel, US 80, Vicksburg, closed since the 1980s (4×5" Tri-X negative, Tachihara camera)
The old Pinewood Motor Lodge has also been closed since the 1980s. I suspect these businesses were unable to compete with newer hotels built near Interstate 20, which was constructed through Vicksburg in the early 1970s.
We finally reach Vicksburg. Here is an old Chamber of Commerce brochure, courtesy of Preservation Mississippi. US 80 crossed the Mississippi River on the old 80 bridge, now closed to road traffic and pedestrians but still leased by the Kansas City Southern railroad. Today, US 80 and I-20 use a new bridge, built in the 1970s. We will explore US 80 in Louisiana in a future article. I will not cover Vicksburg in this article. Just type "Vicksburg" in the search box and you can find plenty of articles about the city - color, black and white, summer, winter, snow, and even some digital.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - east Mississippi

Route US 80 was one of our earliest paved cross-country auto roads. According to Wikipedia, much of the present 80 was once part of the Dixie Overland Highway, a southern route stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. Today, 80 ends in Dallas, with the sections further west absorbed into various interstate highways. "As an original US Highway commissioned in 1926, US 80 was the first all-weather coast-to-coast route available to auto travelers. For a time known as the "Broadway of America", its history is second only to US 66 in American highway folklore"
The present U.S. Route 80 (in red), from Creative Commons, Wikipedia (in the public domain)
Map of US 80 (from the 1941 Mississippi Tourist Guide (courtesy Preservation Mississippi). Note that north is to the right in this diagram 
This is the first of a three-part series. We will start our trip in the Mississippi city of Meridian and drive west. This is not a comprehensive guide, just some of my random photographs along the way. Meridian was a major rail junction for 200 years and still has many tracks running through town as well a historic depot. US 80 enters Meridian from the east and merges with Interstate 20 at a complicated intersection near the mall. Within town, 80 may have run along 5th (also known as Main) Street or 8th Street. Maybe a reader can  advise.
Commercial hotels like the once served Dixie Highway as well as rail travelers (Nexus 4 digital image)
Main Street, Meridian, Kodak Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 50mm Distagon lens
The Miner Saw Company on Main Street is an example of the type of industrial activity that once flourished in Meridian.
Hotel, Main (5th) Street at 25th Ave., Meridian, Hasselblad 50mm lens
Historic Benevolent Association Building, Main Street, Meridian, Hasselblad, 50mm Distagon lens
Meridian has a wealth of old architecture. I need to explore in more detail.
Former Cities Services station, 3700 5th Street, Meridian, 80mm Planar lens
On 5th street, I turned a corner, and there was one of the classic Cities Services Company stations with the characteristic peaked roof. Previously, I seldom paid attention to gasoline station architecture, but Thomas Rosell had just written about Citgo stations in Preservation Mississippi, and my interest was on alert. This one is now a restaurant. Some ladies were making ribs and offered me a plate, but it was only 10:00 in the morning and a bit too early for a hearty rib lunch. Pity. They were very gracious and said I was welcome to take pictures.
Hodges Variety & Arcade, 3400 5th Ave., Meridian, 80mm Planar lens
Not far from the old Citgo station was a building in poor condition at 3400 5th Ave. A sign stated "Hodges Variety & Arcade."

Heading west out of Meridian, US 80 passes through a number of small towns with names like Chunky and Hickory. I did not see all that much to photograph. It looks like most cultural or architectural remains of the Dixie Highway have been replaced with modern gas stations, fast food restaurants, and characterless steel utility buildings.
Lawrence Garage, Lawrence, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens
The Lawrence Garage in Lawrence may have seen Dixie travelers back in the day, but I can't be sure of the date.
Whimseys store, 23 Cedar St., Lake, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens, green filter to lighten foliage
Whimseys store, Lake, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens, green filter
Whimseys occupied a nice little 1920s cottage on Cedar Street. It was closed so I do not know what they sold or did.
Lyle's Power Equipment, 606 2nd St., Pelahatchie, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens
Lyle's Power Equipment occupies an interesting semi-Spanish style building on US 80 in Pelahatchie.  Look at the name molded into the arch above the door: Rankin County Motors Ford. A gent from the store told me that this was once a Ford assembly building and dealership. Model T parts were unloaded from the rail line in the back and cars were assembled and sold on the premises. The building was in nice condition and I complemented them at maintaining it so well. In fact, Pelahatchie overall looked prosperous and busy.

This ends out very short ride on the Dixie Highway east of Jackson. As usual, there is more to explore in the future. The square photographs are from Kodak Panatomic-X film taken with my Hasselblad 501CM camera. I scanned the negatives with a Minolta Scan Multi medium-format film scanner.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Vicksburg's Railroad Bridges and Crossings (More Snow)

Vicksburg has been an important railroad town since before the Civil War. One of the reasons that General Grant considered this to be a crucial strategic objective in the Civil War was the railroad infrastructure. The railroad from the western Confederate states (Texas and Louisiana) came through Vicksburg on the way to Jackson, Meridian, and other eastern Confederate cities. Once Vicksburg surrendered, the Union Navy totally controlled the Mississippi River and the Confederacy was split. This meant food and other crucial supplies could not move east from the western states.

The train still comes through Vicksburg. Let us take a quick tour of the railroad bridges in town. I suspect many motorists just rush over and do not pay any attention to the tracks below.
Mississippi River from Vicksburg, view west towards Louisiana, 1996, Kodachrome slide, Nikon F3 camera
Before the construction of the old bridge, rail cars were ferried across the Mississippi River by barges. This must have been dangerous work considering currents and changing water levels. The Vicksburg Bridge & Terminal Co. built the first bridge first bridge across the river (on the right in the photograph above) during 1928-1930. It uses three cantilevered truss spans and three Parker truss spans (from National Park Service). It formerly carried US 80 (the Dixie Overland Highway) but has been closed to car traffic since 1998. The bridge on the left was built in 1972 to carry Interstate 20.
KCS tracks from North Frontage Road, view NW towards Washington Street, Jan. 16, 2018, Fomapan 100 film
After emerging from the bridge on the Vicksburg side of the river, the track makes a long turn to the north under the interstate off ramp. The photograph above is from North Frontage Road looking to the northwest. North Washington Street runs on the hill in the snow in the distance.
KCS tracks from North Washington Street, view SE, Jan 16, 2018, Fomapan 100 film
The tracks run underneath South Washington Street and head north to the Kansas City Southern rail yard. The view above is to the south. I waited for a train, but it was cold, and snow was falling on the camera.
KCS tracks view north from S. Washington Street, Fomapan 100 classic film
From Washington Street, look north and you can see the KCS rail yard in the distance. The track in the distance to the right makes a turn and runs under Washington Street again to the cut between Belmont and West Pine Streets.
Long-closed Fairground Street Keystone bridge from under KCS tracks, Hasselblad, 80mm Planar lens, Kodak Panatomic-X film
The Fairground Street Bridge has been closed to cars and pedestrians for decades. It crossed the KCS rail yard. This photograph is from under the rail line that follows Pearl Street and eventually turns under Washington Street.
Washington Street railroad tunnel, April 2015, Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm lens
Railroad cut between Belmont and West Pine Streets
This valley between Belmont and West Pine Streets must have been cut by the railroad before the Civil War. It is a rather convoluted route but may have followed natural gullies that required minimal dirt removal. The photograph above is from the Monroe Street bridge.
KCS tracks from Mission 66, view west, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens
KCS tracks from Mission 66, view east with Baldwin Ferry bridge in distance, Fomapan 100 film, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens
KCS tracks from Baldwin Ferry Road bridge, view east towards Vicksburg Military Park, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens
As the Kansas City Southern rail moves inland, it passes under the bridges at Mission 66 and Baldwin Ferry Road. I expect most people drive over and barely pay any attention to the tracks below. In summer, the view is rather dull, but the snow made the scene interesting by outlining the topography.
KCS tracks from Old Highway 27, view towards 2-Mile Bridge, Vicksburg National Military Park
From here, the tracks head east towards Bovina, cross the Big Black River, and continue on to Edwards and Jackson. Back to the Vicksburg waterfront, the Vicksburg Southern Railroad runs along North Washington Street and on to Redwood and just north of the International Paper Company mill.
Vicksburg Southern Railroad tracks view south from Haining Road, Tri-X 400 film
Vicksburg Southern Railroad tracks passing through Vicksburg Forest Products lumber processing yard, Tri-X 400 film, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens 
Vicksburg Southern Railroad from Redwood, view south to International Paper Vicksburg Mill, Panatomic-X film, Rolleiflex 3.5E, 75mm f/3.5 Xenotar lens. 
This ends out short tour of railroad tracks and bridges. These were all film photographs. Thank you for reading.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Snow in Vicksburg, Mississippi (B&W film)

Dear readers, the heat is here, and the winter of 2018-2019 is fading away into memory. Other than a minor dusting of snow sometime in January, we did not see any of the white stuff. But the winter of 2017-2018 was much more interesting, with three real snowfalls. Because this is a rare phenomenon here in central Mississippi, it is worth recording on film. I bopped out with the Hasselblad and tripod as soon as I could while the white stuff was still falling or just afterwards. Here are a few examples (click any photograph to expand to 1600 pixels wide).
Beulah Cemetery, MLK Jr. Blvd., Vicksburg (50mm Distagon lens, Kodak Panatomic-X film)
Zollinger's Hill Road, Vicksburg (50mm Distagon lens, Fomapan 100 classic film)
Zollingers Hill Road drops steeply down from MLK Jr. Blvd. In the snow, it looks like a country lane. In one of the snowfalls, the city closed it because of the slick surface.
Sycamore Avenue, Vicksburg (80mm Planar lens, Panatomic-X film)
Sycamore Avenue is another small road that drops down into a valley from MLK Jr. Blvd. Once there were small homes along Sycamore, but most have been demolished. When I took this picture on December 8, 2017, the snow was melting quickly, and I wanted to capture the scene in soft light.
West Pine and KCS railroad cut from Belmont Street (80mm Planar lens, Panatomic-X film)
This is the railroad cut between West Pine and Belmont Streets. This has carried the railroad between Vicksburg and Jackson since before the Civil War. Once, there were many more cottages on the opposite slope.
Washington Street, view north (80mm Planar lens, Fomapan 100 film)
Vans, 2640 Washington Street (80mm Planar lens, Fomapan 100 film)


Heading west, we reach Washington Street, unusually quiet on a snowy morning. I have been unable to do much photographically with Washington Street, but the snow added contrast and eye interest.
Fairground Street (80mm Planar lens, Fomapan 100 film, yellow filter)
Fairground Street drops down to the west from Washington Street. These little cottages at the west end of Fairground Street have been here for decades. I have photographed them before. Most appear to be occupied.
2521 Pearl Street (80mm Planar lens, Fomapan 100 film, yellow filter)
This duplex on Pearl Street is on the east side of the street and faces the railroad tracks. All the cottages on the west side of the tracks have been demolished as have many on the east side, but I photographed them years ago.
Fairground Street Bridge (80mm Planar lens, Fomapan 100 film)
The Fairground Street Bridge is a Keystone bridge from the late-1800s. It is in poor condition and may be demolished despite its historical significance as being one of the only bridges of its type in Mississippi. I wrote about it in 2017. According to the Vicksburg Post,
"Nancy Bell, executive director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, said the bridge is listed as the oldest in the state, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Mississippi landmark. 
The bridge was closed to traffic in 1995 as unsafe. Its approach at the intersection of Pearl and Fairground streets is overgrown with trees and other vegetation, and the crumbling structure crosses over the Kansas City Southern Railroad yard."
Way to go, Vicksburg, make us proud! Demolish a historic engineering landmark, while meanwhile trying to promote the city as a tourist destination.
Durden Creek, Waterways Experiment Station (February 2010 snowfall, Sony DSC-R1 digital file) 
3000 block of Drummond Street, view south (February 2010 snowfall, Sony DSC-R1 digital file)
I found some snow files from the winter of 2010.
KCS tracks, Warrior's Trail, Bovina (80mm Planar lens, polarizing filter, Fomapan 100 film)
These are the Kansas City Southern tracks next to Warrior's Trail near the town of Bovina. The sun was just coming out and the light was magical briefly.
Highway US 80 over the Big Black River, Bovina (50mm Distagon lens, polarizer filter, Fomapan 100 film)
 Finally, this is the US 80 bridge over the Big Black River a short distance east of Bovina.
KCS railroad bridge, Big Black River, Bovina (50mm Distagon lens, yellow filter, Fomapan 100 film)
A short distance south of the US 80 bridge is this concrete arch bridge, which carries the Kansas City Southern tracks over the Big Black. I am not sure when it was built, but an arch bridge this high  is unusual for Mississippi. The dark stain on the concrete shows how high the Big Black can rise after heavy rains in west central Mississippi.

This ends out short snow tour of Vicksburg and immediate area. Come back to this article when it is 100° F during some scorcher of a muggy summer day.

All square photographs are from my Hasselblad 501CM camera. I scanned the negatives with a Minolta Scan Multi medium format film scanner controlled by SilverFast Ai software, running on an old Windows 7 computer.