Thursday, November 21, 2019

Industrial archaeology: Redstone Quarry, North Conway, NH (2003 with film)

New Hampshire is known as the "Granite State," and for good reason. Granite outcrops are found throughout the state, as well as the adjoining states of Maine and Vermont. In the past, numerous quarries mined the hard and durable stone, sending the products throughout the northeast United States. Redstone Quarry in North Conway (formerly its own town of Redstone), operated from the mid-1800s until 1948. It featured both pink and green granite at one site, which is unusual. For many years, the Boston and Maine Railroad owned the quarry. The railroad used finished stone for train stations, while rubble and waste product served as track bedding. Columns and finished blocks were sent to Boston and other cities.

I previously wrote about Redstone in 2012. That time, I posted digital images from autumn 2012. Oddly, that has been one of my most accessed blog posts. It was time to retrieve my older film negatives and present them here. I took the photographs in this short article in June of 2003. I exposed Kodak Panatomic-X film in my Rolleiflex 3.5E with 75mm f/3.5 Xenotar lens, all tripod-mounted. I also used another Rolleiflex with Ektar 25 color film. It was a stifling summer day, and I noted in my field book that the temperature was 35° C. In my opinion, these black and white film frames are much more powerful than the 2012 digital images. The Ektar frames were also not as effective.
This is one of the few wood buildings still on the site. This may be a former dormitory for quarry workers.
These two frames are from the old forge. I read that early in the 20th century, the cutting tools needed sharpening and re-tempering constantly. The forge-master was a busy fellow. Tungsten steel and other specialty metals would have reduced the need for sharpening, but those improvements came late in the history of this quarry.
This was the face of the larger rock lathe. This machine would have been used to turn stone columns  of the type used on banks or other major buildings in cities. The roof was open to allow a hoist to position a piece of stone in the right position before being attached to the lathe. Consider that this lathe could support tens of tons of rock. The lower picture is a close-up with the help of a Rolleinar close-up diopter.
This was part of a smaller rock lathe. The men who operated these lathes were true craftsmen, but they died at young ages because of silicosis (lung disease).
More machinery of unknown purpose.
Here is the pulley at the main pit (see the first photograph). I am amazed that some of the booms are still standing and supported by these rusting steel cables.
This is one of the Ektar 25 frames of the same pulley. This provides color information on the rusty pulley.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Vintage Station and a few from Bessemer, Alabama

Bessemer is a suburb of Birmingham, formerly a major steel production town. According to Wikipedia,
The town was founded in the postbellum era by the Bessemer Land and Improvement Company, named after Henry Bessemer and owned by coal magnate Henry F. DeBardeleben. He had inherited Daniel Pratt's investments.[7] The mayor and councilmen voted to incorporate the city of Bessemer on September 9, 1887.[8] Located 16 miles southwest of Birmingham, Bessemer grew rapidly and its promoters believed that it might overtake the other city in economic power.

Given the iron ore, coal and limestone deposits in the area, the city became a center of steelmaking from about 1890 through the 20th century. It attracted rural migrants from across the South, as well as European immigrants. By the 1950s, the city was majority African American in population.

The industry went through considerable restructuring in the late 20th century, and jobs moved out of the area. Steel is no longer made there.
4th Alley, Bessemer, Alabama (80mm Planar lens)
8th Ave. at 20th Street, Bessemer, Alabama (80mm Planar lens)
Today, the town has a rather rough reputation, but I stopped on my 2017 road trip and took a few photographs. The alleys were surprisingly clean and uninteresting.
There is some well-preserved early 20th century architecture, like this elegant 1907 library, now used by the Chamber of Commerce. Note the Moorish arches. Well-done, indeed.
I drove to the rail line and stopped at Carolina Alley. The train really does thunder through town at high speed.
An interesting architectural salvage company! The Vintage Station occupied a big old warehouse next to the tracks at 18th Street. It had just relocated after its previous warehouse burned in March of 2017. The owner. Mr. Brad Watkins, also used the business as a Christian counseling ministry for unemployed men and for teaching job skills. Mr. Watkins was killed in January, 2018, when a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting entered his third floor room at a Fairfield hotel. I do not know if Vintage is open now (November 2019). It was a fun place to photograph.

These photographs are from Kodak Tri-X 400 film, exposed with a Hasselblad 501CM camera. Please click any frame to expand it to 1600 pixels wide.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Big Industrial Remains: Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, Alabama

If you like industrial remains, the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama, is about as interesting as it gets. The site is at 20 32nd Street North, right in the city and easy to reach from the interstate. According to the Sloss web page:
Sloss Furnaces was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world. It stands today just as it did in the late 19th century — a monument to the Industrial Revolution. With its web of pipes and towering stoves, this unique National Historic Landmark provides visitors a glimpse into Birmingham’s rich industrial heritage. It stands with pride and is a symbol of where the “Magic” began for Birmingham.

Sloss Furnaces operated from 1882-1970 making it the longest continually running blast furnace in Birmingham’s history. 
It is a fascinating site for photography, and amateur photographers can work without paying a fee.  I spent a rewarding morning there in 2017 with my then newly-acquired Hasselblad medium-format camera and Kodak Tri-X film.
You drive in from the east (see photograph 1 above). Abandoned railroad tracks parallel the modern rail shunting yard.
Once you check in at the visitor center, you start walking through the works and can see the enormity of the complex. Thousands of employees once worked here. The noise, heat, and fumes must have been overwhelming.
These were crude, old-fashioned massive girders and castings. Some of the foundations do not look too sound to me. I expect that this site will be open for many years until the machinery corrodes or geotechnical conditions become unsafe. Then parts of the site will progressively close to the public.
Some of the darker interior areas required 1-sec exposures. These are from my 50mm f/4.0 Distagon lens, made in 1985 in West Germany. The last picture is a crop of no. 2 to show how much detail was recorded on the Tri-X film.
Some of the former office or laboratory buildings look like they have been reinforced (see the steel beam in the upper left).

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark is a rare opportunity to walk in and around factory machinery. It is part of our industrial heritage. Make a point to visit. Take your camera (use film) and a tripod.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Demolition of the Crawford Street Methodist Church Annex, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Crawford Street United Methodist Church (former Vicksburg Sanitarium?) Annex from South Street (50mm Summicron lens)
Vicksburg's Crawford Street United Methodist Church* extends over a large portion of the block between Crawford and South Streets in Vicksburg. A 3-story tall annex faced South Street. I think this annex was built in the early 20th century and was part of the Vicksburg Sanitarium (Street's Sanitarium, and later, the Sydney Building**. According to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Historic Resources Inventory, in 1957 the "old building became Sydney House, a nursing home and apartments for the elderly. Sydney House closed in 1993. The general form and some exterior details of the original house were still visible on the facade of the building. The building burned in 1995 and was subsequently demolished. The Crawford Street UMC bought the property and the two buildings to the south (in the photograph above).

For many years, the lower floor of the annex housed a food bank, while the upper two floors were empty, as far as I know, through the early-2000s. A friend who volunteered at the food bank mentioned something about a kindergarten being in the upper floors at one time.
Sometime in 2018, the back wall of the annex building collapsed. While bicycling by in December, I saw a large backhoe and dumpsters. It was obvious that the old buildings were about to be demolished.
The workers started with the collapsed wall to the rear (the north side). Notice the interesting bridge between the two buildings.
Demolition, February 8, 2019
Once the tractor started working, the building came down quickly. I do not know if any of the old joists and timbers could be reused. I thought only the building to the left would be removed, but soon the second unit came down, as well. Now a field of gravel and bits of broken brick marks the footprint of the two buildings. I do not know if the area will be paved to expand the parking lot.
Former Carnegie Library, 819 South Street, Vicksburg
From the Cooper Postcard Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History
The handsome Spanish Mission Revival building at 819 South Street, across the street from the annex parking lot, now houses the City of Vicksburg Planning Department. Built in 1916, this was the former Carnegie Library***. It is a handsome building that has been well-preserved by the City. Good job!


* The Crawford Street UMC has a distinguished history. According to the Millsaps College web page:
Organized in 1834, Crawford Street Methodist Church in Vicksburg, holds a unique position in the history of Methodism in Mississippi as well as the history of Vicksburg. On the church grounds is the burial site of Tobias Gibson (1776-1804) , first missionary circuit rider - The Father of Methodism in Mississippi - to the Mississippi Territory for the Methodist Church. Originally buried some few miles away, the monument and grave were moved to Crawford Street in 1935. Newitt Vick , on whose property Vicksburg was built, and his family were hosts to the First Methodist Conference in the Old Southwest in 1812. Openwood church where the Vicks worshipped, was to be the forerunner of the Methodist church in Vicksburg. In 1841 J. W. Vick sold the M.E.C. South the land where the present church stands. The building was dedicated in 1850, But a new structure was to be built in 1899. It burned on Palm Sunday, 1925. After temporary arrangements a new building was constructed in 1955.
Source: Jenkins, William L. Mississippi United Methodist Churches: Two Hundred Years of Heritage and Hope. Franklin, Tennessee: Providence House. 1998. This title is available in the J. B. Can Archives.

**  The Vicksburg Sanitarium, now gone, was built around 1910. From the National Register listing:
The Vicksburg Sanitarium. A four-story, stuccoed, flat-roofed building, facing north, which was built incorporating an 1830s residence. A modillioned metal cornice is between the thud and fourth floors, and a plain cornice is at the roof. There are five bays in the main part of the building: four, two-over-two double-hung sash with stone lintels and sills and a non-historic entry. There is a stuccoe done-story portico supported by square stuccoed columns with a heavy balustrade on its roof. The center bay on the second floor is slightly recessed and is a non-historic door with original sidelights and transom. The recess is flanked by Doric pilasters supporting a denticulated entablature. There are several additions to the building. Ca. 1830s, 1910.
*** The National Register of Historic Places Registration Form notes:
The Old Vicksburg Public Library is architecturally significant in the context of public/governmental architecture in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It exhibits an outstanding design that represents the highlight of development during Vicksburg!s boom period. It is significant as the only public/governmental building in Vicksburg constructed in the Mission Revival style. While many residential buildings in Vicksburg were influenced by this style, the library is the only non-residential Mission Revival and is the largest building constructed in the style. Please refer to the contextual statement for more information about the architecture of Vicksburg.

In 1910 the Vicksburg Library Association decided to contact Andrew Carnegie to ask if he would help the Association build a new library. A library of sorts had been established on the third floor of the new City Hall in 1903, but the Association needed a larger building.

The Carnegie Foundation agreed to build a library building if the community would provide the ground for the building and agree to support the library once .it was established. The Civic League raised $5,000, of which $4,000 was used to purchase the lot and the remainder was used to purchase books and supplies. The planswere designed by Edward L. Tilton, an architect commissioned by the Foundation in New York City. The Library was completed in February 1916 at a cost of $28,000, of which $25,000 was provided by the Carnegie Foundation.
The black and white photographs are from Leica cameras with Fuji Acros or Kodak BW400CN films.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Old Country Store of Lorman, Mississippi - in Business

Old Country store, April 29, 2019 (Moto G5 digital file)
In the previous article, I posted pictures from the 1980s and 1990s of the Old Country Store in Lorman, Mississippi. Fast forward many years to 2019, and the Old Country Store Restaurant serves southern cuisine. My friends and I ate there on a Thursday in May of 2019 and had an excellent luncheon (big BBQ ribs!!). I did not try the famous fried chicken, but my friends attested to its culinary qualities and kilocalories.
These black and white frames are from Kodak Panatomic-X film exposed with the 50mm Distagon lens on my Hasselblad 501CM camera. The 50mm lens on the square format gives a similar view as a 27mm lens on 35mm, so in effect a wide-angle view. Click any frame to expand the view. I braced the camera body on a ladder or shelves and took long exposures.

The old adding machines and cash registers are gone, but I was surprised to see the remnants of an IBM punch card machine in the room with the faded business cards stapled to the wall. Some of you old-timers may recall when 80-character punch cards were used to submit programs and data to mainframe computers. When I learned FORTRAN programming in the 1970s, I used punch cards.
Currently unused church, McDonald Road, Lorman, Mississippi
There is not much left to the community of Lorman, My friend, Martha, told me that early in the 20th century, there were stores, a post office, and a rail junction. Her uncle used oxen to bring timber to the junction. Now it is all gone. But the Old Country Store is the spot of good news. This is a success story, a part of our cultural heritage still in use. Try the lunch there! And take a camera.

Friday, October 18, 2019

From the Archives: the Lorman Country Store, Lorman, Mississippi

Lorman Country Store, Leica M3, 50mm f/2.8 Elmar lens, Kodachrome film
Lorman is a small town - really just a hamlet - south of Port Gibson on US 61. Lorman was known for its old-fashioned country store, which had been in continuous operation from 1875 until 1996. In the past, US 61 passed directly in front of the store. Today, the new 4-lane road is a short distance to the east, and the old store is not subjected to heavy traffic right in front.
Waiting for a ride, 1990 (Olympus Zuiko 35mm shift lens)
In the past, the store housed a post office and sold all the necessities needed by a small farming community. By the mid-1980s, the store was still open, but most visitors may have come to see the museum of antiques, old adding machines, books, and stuff. It was pretty interesting. But finally it happened, bad news: in March of 1996, the Vicksburg Post announced that the store had been sold and that all the contents would be disposed at auction. My photographer friend and I drove to Lorman a day or two before the auction. The proprietor generously let us take pictures inside during its last day of operation.
The photographs are all from Kodachrome film exposed with a Nikon F3 camera with 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor AiS lens. In the interior, I used a Vivitar flash with a cardboard diffuser.
The frames above are from Kodak Tri-X Professional film (the ISO 320 emulsion) taken with my Fuji GW690II camera with 90mm lens (the "Texas Leica"). I used a tripod. A wider-angle lens would have been useful, but I did not have one at the time for 120-size film.

This has been a quick look at the Old Country Store. As of 2019, it houses a restaurant - photographs to follow.