Sunday, January 24, 2016

Quiet along the tracks, Bentonia and Flora, Mississippi

Bentonia is a small town in Yazoo County off Highway US 49, about 28 miles northwest of Jackson, Mississippi. The community grew up as an agricultural and postal town along the Illinois Central Railway tracks, which are on the main line between Jackson and Yazoo City. On an overcast November day in 2010, while driving from Yazoo City to Flora, I decided to pull off in Bentonia and look around. It was pretty quiet; not much was happening.
These shops on West Railroad Avenue were closed on the late afternoon when I took the photographs.
Across the tracks on East Railroad Avenue is the famous Blue Front Cafe, a juke joint that played an important role in the Blues tradition and the origin of the "Bentonia Blues." A 2006 USA Today article described the cafe.
Next to the Blue Front was a car repair shop occupying a former cotton gin shed.
The next town south (towards Jackson) is Flora. It also has the look of snoozing the decades away.
These two shops looked unused, especially the sports bar with the bush in front of the door.  Jackson is only a few minutes south on 49, and I suppose most local residents of Flora work and shop in the city. Small-town businesses have a hard time competing.

Photographs taken with a Fujifilm GW690II medium-format rangefinder camera on Kodak Panatomic-X film, developed in Agfa Rodinal developer at 1:50 dilution. I scanned the negatives on a Minolta Scan Multi scanner, cleaned lint and other marks with Faststone, and enhanced contrast and exposure with PhotoNinja software. Click any of the photographs to see a larger version.

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